JANUARY 2024: ’55 CHEV BEL AIR GASSER TRIBUTE—HE PUSHED THIS PROJECT OVER THE GOAL LINE

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You’d be surprised how many projects are started by one owner and finished by another one.

This 1955 Chevy Bel Air gasser tribute is a good example of what happens after a new owner takes over a stalled project.

Jerry Sutherland

Dale Drever is the proud owner of this incredible tri-five Chevy. He found the car in Chicago—it was in mid-project stage, so basically it was in pieces and the previous owner had a basic game plan that stalled at some point.

Dale bought the car fifteen years ago, and he reached the finish line after a 4-year build. The car came with some interesting pieces like the old school wheels and the classic 60s fuel injection tubes. The injection tubes are functional, but they are new tech electronic injectors—not the old mechanical style.

There’s a DART 427 small block under the hood now—Dale estimates it has nearly 500 horsepower at the rear wheels, so this gasser tribute would be a force if he wanted to run it at the track. Dale also added a 5-speed to drop the revs down at highway speed because this car has a 4:11 rear end.

Dale kept what he liked about the car and improved other things like the straight axle front end. He didn’t like the setup, so he went with a 21st century version of a straight axle to improve its drivability. Dale did retain the fender well header look because that’s a distinctive feature of a traditional gasser. 

The previous owner had radiused the rear wheel wells to replicate the look of a 60s gasser where giant slicks had to fit outside the car’s body. Dale narrowed the rear end so he could tuck slicks inside the wheel well.

Dale also brought back the Bel Air trim on his ’55 because he wanted a more upscale look to his car. Gassers were built for the track, so trim pieces were removed for weight savings, but this car still has every piece of trim because looks—not elapsed times (ET) mean more to Dale. He admitted he was fortunate because tri-five (1955-57) Chevy parts catalogs are thicker than a bible, so every badge is available.

The seats are out of a 60s Impala, so they blend in well with the concept of an 80s era gasser. The steering wheel is a custom smaller version of an original ’55 Chevy steering wheel. Dale fabricated the dash to accommodate the extra gauges.    

The Bel Air has dual electric fans and an upgraded radiator, so there are no overheating issues when Dale is on the road in his ’55. He cleaned up the firewall when he had the engine out, so the factory look is long gone under the hood.

Dale is comfortable behind the wheel–but only to a point. He said 100 miles in the car is far enough because the solid front axle is “like herding cats”. The Bel Air likes to follow the ruts in the road thanks to the skinny front tires and the drag strip front end.

There are risks when you take on a project in pieces, but Dale has been driving the ’55 Chevy for eleven trouble-free years now—he’s really happy he pushed the gasser project over the goal line.

Jerry Sutherland
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