Road or Race? 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Gasser

It isn’t that unusual to hear of cars where they have lived a competition life, and when this life has ended, the car is either cut up or scrapped. This 1955 Chevrolet Gasser, which spent its competition life racing in Southern California, has managed to avoid both of those possible fates, and it is a solid car that offers the next owner a few possibilities. It is located in Lompoc, California, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Gasser has now reached $13,300, and with the reserve met, this is a car that is destined to head to a new home.

As well as returning the Chevy to its former competition glory, the next owner has the option of returning the car to the road. The owner provides plenty of photos of the underside of the vehicle, and it is as solid and clean as you could ever hope to find, with plenty of original steel. There is some rust in the car, but the worst of it seems to be confined to the gutters, and a couple of spots around the rear window. The fiberglass lift-off front has deteriorated a bit, but a good specialist should be able to whip that into shape if the next owner wishes to return the car to its competition best.

The interior is about as “bare-bones” as you would expect to find in a competition vehicle. There isn’t a lot to talk about in the way of trim, and when I look at the seats and the roll bar, I doubt that either would come close to meeting current safety standards. As you can see, the floors in this car really are solid, and regardless of which way the next owner chooses to jump with this project car, they will have a pretty decent foundation from which to work.

It isn’t clear what sort of engine and transmission this Chevy employed to get it down the strip, but both the engine and transmission are now gone. The 9″ rear end that the vehicle utilized is still present and is located by the original leaf springs, multi-links, and coil-overs. At the front, we find a beam axle and coil-over shocks. It appears as though it would be possible to return a fair amount of the original drive-train to the car, as it doesn’t look the frame rails have been cut about in the conversion, but everything still looks solid enough to restore the car as a Gasser as well.

This is an interesting car, and vintage competition vehicles have become quite highly desired in recent years. I did some searching around in the hope that I might find some photos of it in its heyday. Unfortunately, I had no luck, but the next owner might if they make inquiries with people involved in the drag racing scene in Southern California. You never know, if you take this on as a project, you might just be lucky enough to gain some useful information from the person who built the car in the first place.

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Comments

  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    I’d say way to much work to put this back to what it started out as. Would be easier to just buy a stock 2 door post and restore it. It’s not to practical for street use the way it is either, I can see why they were stripped and scrapped when they were used up. There isn’t even a lot of usable parts on it certainly not worth anywhere near the asking price. As for the rear axle it would be a punished worn out beat down turd at this point. Even the body shell is to modified to reuse one look at the fender wells and fire wall tell me it’s not worth the work to get it back. Good luck to the new owner he’s going to need it. And who ever buys it they are welcome to it.

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  2. John M.

    When I saw this 55 Bowtie, the first thing that came to mind was the 1971 film “Two Lane Blacktop”

    17
  3. Rube Goldberg

    I enjoy Adam’s write ups, lots of research, but,,,it’s clear he may not be familiar with the US movie scene. To post a car like this and not to mention the hoaky, yet entertaining, low budget movie 2 Lane Blacktop, is a shame. This car is right out of the movie, who knows what happened to that car, coming from S. Cal. this could even be it. Wouldn’t THAT be something? Even though the movie was pretty plotless, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, it was Dennis Wilson ( of Beach Boys) and James Taylor driving around S. Cal. in a ’55 Chevy, 454 Gasser, drag racing( it was odd both with music careers and no music in the movie) and the standard romance schtick. The Ten Commandments, it wasn’t. Still, a fun car to replicate that, the hard part is done.

    6
    • Poppapork

      This movie is a cult classic by now, and they arent driving around south cali (unless you meant NM and AZ?) They are driving cross country racing a guy to east coast.
      Laurie Bird died tragically not too long after this movie at 26yo so if a chevy gasser ever falls in my hands im.naming her Laurie

      6
    • Steve R

      The cars from the movie that survived are documented and their whereabouts are known.

      Steve R

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      • rpol35

        One of the three got a second round of silver screen fame in 1973’s “American Graffiti” as Harrison Ford’s (Bob Falfa) “cruisin’ for a run” black 150 coupe.

        9
    • Djjerme

      …what happened to that car?

      Well, to start off with, that car was legit. 454 powered, tunnel ram intake, full cage and could walk the walk as portrayed in the film. After 2 Lane black top, the tunnel ram intake was removed and the plastic hood scoop and original flip front was replaced to a stock looking one. The car was cleaned up and resprayed in gloss black for its next movie role (here’s a hint, it was driven by Hans Solo..)

      The car was rolled at the end of that movie, but it was rebuilt and circulated on the show circuit for a while. I think it now resides in a collection…
      https://youtu.be/ziBlpNVDcxM

      1
    • John Oliveri

      That car from the movie is alive and well, and was on Jay Leno’s CNBC show, along w James Taylor driving it last year

      1
  4. bobhess Member

    Must have had a healthy engine in it. Twisted the frame with no front body to frame support up front.

    3
  5. MikeV

    I believe the ’55 in Two Lane Black Top was used in American Graffiti driven by Falfa

  6. Troy s

    What a time capsule we have here! Depends on when it was raced as to what may have been lurking up front. Bored over 327? 427 big block, who knows. Any number of combinations could have been used.
    She’s as obsolete as the southern California drag strip scene where it ran, most all the race tracks are gone now, down here. There were many at one time.
    Two Lane Blacktop had two really great stars—a ’55 Chevy similar to this and a GTO that resembled a Judge although I don’t remember seeing that name on the car. Three ’55’s were built for the movie, two of which were actually used. The camera car for all the interior shots had a full frame built around it for various camera angles and was powered by a 454. The real deal race car we see on all exterior shots was powered by an L88 427 with the dual quad tunnel ram set up and custom fabricated headers. It ran 10.7’s.

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  7. Gaspumpchas

    Sure is all business . Would make a cool show car but as far as racing, its way obsolete. Scary thing is the roll bar that is only partially bolted, and that’s to the floor. Would be neat to put a small block and a 4 speed in it and display it. Seems pricey at 13 large but someone could still have fun with it. I’d leave the outside as is. Good luck to the new owner.
    Cheers
    GPC

    3
    • Harold whisman

      Why is Everyone going on about the 55? I am more interested in the 56 or 57 vette in the barn and the 57 Chevy on the lift in the barn.

  8. Retiredstig

    One or more of the cars from Two Lane Blacktop wound up as “Bob Falafa’s” car in American Graffiti, which is what came to mind when I saw this one. Same radiused wheel openings, identical front clip with scoop. The hero car is still around, heavily butchered by the current owner, no idea if he ever shows it.
    That car had an L-88 and a full dash, so a replica from this would be an enormous amount of work, but sweet if it could be completed.

    1
  9. John B.

    The ‘55 would be nice but the 56 or 57 Corvette peeking out from the building in the background would make me happier!

    3
  10. Mikey8

    One of my dream cars and hope to find one this day. I would love to find a shell even needing work. I have the front axle stored away. Unfortunately that’s all I have except for some shoe box trim.
    One day !
    😊

    3
  11. Jon Rappuhn

    Went over to EBay to look at all pics. Says it sold for $13,500, evidently to someone that has money to burn. Pics are interesting, between the rust along the gutters, in the corners under the windows, along the seams between the floor and frame, floor and transmission housing and firewall, what appears to be small tack welds attaching the rear rollbar tubes to floor, welds on the front and rear suspension pieces, what appears to be a badly twisted frame, etc. I’m not sure I’d put an engine with any kind of torque in it. To me, it looks like about $13,000 too much, but to each his own, I guess. Looks like it will take a LOT of bucks to even make it a static display, let alone making it even a nostalgia racer. Back to street use, lol.
    Just my humble opinion after 45+ years of racing.

    2
  12. TimM

    In my opinion it is best to leave this car the way it is!! In sure the rear wheel wells are tubbed and probably used aluminum!! The door panels are gone with the headliner and most of the dash!! It would be way to much money and part to put this back to a drivable street car!! The only thing that is true 55 is the outer shell!!

  13. The one

    One man’s garbage is another man’s popourri..

    “The Grinch”

    1

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