AUGUST 21, 2012: A TRIBUTE TO A 1955 CHEVY GASSER IS A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE FOR ITS OWNER

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Don Macgowan is old enough to remember an era when a 1955 Chevy two-door post was the stuff of serious daydreams for any kid stuck in grade school long before he could actually own one.

 

Instead we drew them in a generous portion of our notebooks and also built them as plastic scale models when we were kids.

 

The appearance of a muscled-up ’55 Chevy was even more of a draw for Don.

 

He has race fuel in his veins and has turned his childhood hot rod dreams into a business with Quick Times , a Canadian automotive magazine that is totally dedicated to the go-fast crowd of which Don is a charter member.

 

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Don knows his way around an internal combustion engine enough to make it combust faster and stronger in a rod. He owned a Tri-Five Chevy once before in his life and decided that he needed to own another iconic Bowtie legend once again in his life.

 

He had given himself a basic set of guidelines for his project: it had to recreate the look of a gasser and still be civilized enough to drive on the street. He also wanted to keep his ’55 within a reasonable budget so he tackled the project himself with a little help from his hot rod friends.

 

Don is a confident guy with a good set of wrenching skills so he was not fazed when he discovered his project car rusting in pieces in a field. He had a vision of a retro –looking street car and he dove right into the deep end of his project a couple of years ago.

 

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The ’55 is an excellent tribute to a bygone era and draws a great deal of attention from former grade-schoolers who dreamed Don’s dream in a classroom a long time ago during their much younger years.

 

Don is no different from every car guy because a project is never really 100% complete and his Chevy is no exception to that rule. Don has yet to put the hood back on the car because of his supercharger and the need to cut a hole in the hood. However those of us of a certain age know the real reason: these cars just look so damn cool without a hood.

 

It does not appear to be a sentiment shared by Don’s wife, but we definitely get the cool factor on a hoodless Chevy gasser tribute car.

 

Don has made a few concessions to practicality with his ’55. It looks like a straight axle gasser but Don prefers to drive a car without the limitations of a straight axle steering system, so he added spacers to bring the front end of the conventional steering system up to the standard gasser height.

 

The car has been stripped down to its bare essentials that include “a steering wheel and brakes”-in Don’s words. It does have a roll cage and one does not have to work the imagination too hard to envision this car travelling a quarter mile at a time-very fast.

 

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The car has a beefed-up Chevy 355 in it and Don’s future plans include a practical use for the gasser gas tank on the front end as a container for a water/ethanol mixture to feed his hungry supercharger.

 

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Don wanted to put fat rear tires on the Chevy but he did not want to tub it and that is where his old school hot rod instincts entered into the solution. He bought an Explorer rear end that was narrow enough to allow wider tire clearance and his total investment for the swap was 300 bucks and some wrenching skills. That is retro rod planning done very smart and at a reasonable cost.

 

We also liked the cut-out rear wheel wells that were such a big part of the look from a bygone era and we only wish that we could have done as nice a job doing a radius with an Exacto knife on our plastic models when we were kids.

 

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Congratulations Don, you have made an entire generation of older car guys happy with your stylish tribute to a golden age of hot rods.

Jim Sutherland

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