There’s no denying gassers have been around for a longtime and they are here to stay. Can’t miss them with their nose in the air attitude and often times they come in an assortment of colors, makes, models, and powerplants but one thing is for certain…they have an unmistakable look. Let’s take a look at some of the finest Chevy gassers we located on our travels this past year.
Nose in the air is a given. How about bigs ‘n’ littles front to rear and throw in the oh’ so identifiable straight axle, well not always but the hardcore gasser does have that tube solid axle. Another given for a gasser, take a look inside there better be a big ol’ tach mounted to the dash right there in the driver’s vision. Of course, there were several popular dash mounted tachs back in the day, and today, but the most popular was the Sun. There was the SST Super Tach (8,000 and 9,000 rpm) with its chromed housing and a full sweep. There were also the RC and FZ models that came in the 8,500 and 10,000 rpm faces. The housing and faces were more “utilitarian” in appearance and not as fancy as the SST model but these models, with their high end numbers, spoke volumes about what was under the hood.
Other interior appointments included the obligatory three-pack of Stewart-Warner 2-5/8-inch gauges (now available from Classic Instruments in 2-5/8-inch and old-style face) or other smaller face gauges. There was always water temp, oil pressure, and battery. Of course, the really cool guys had mechanical gauges. Ah the days of pumping hot oil and water into your car just to have the lines develop a leak and drip all over that new Tijuana discount carpet. We should point out if you were really cool and into tuning your own V-8 you would have a three-pack of firewall gauges too. Of course, this was the late-‘50s and ‘60s and any gasser worth its straight axle would be found with a four-speed with a Hurst Competition-Plus shifter resting inside. The tranny of choice for the Chevy crowd, still the most popular gasser brand, would be a T-10, followed by a Saginaw. As horsepower output went up the somewhat anemic T-10 was either voluntarily replaced or replaced after it was “hand-grenade” via missed 2-3 shift or just too much torque.
But let’s get back to the rumble under the hood. Back in the day it would have been a small-block Chevy and with the advent of the late ‘60s the big-block began to settle in under the hood. Hurst or Herbert and Meeks engine swap kits were the rage for swapping any engine into anything. That was the era of the engine swap. But not all motors fit “under” the hood. The GMC 4- and 6-71 roots blowers were finding their way from the strip to the street. This was also the era of the tunnel ram; single and dual quad with the dual four-barrel being the option of choice. And with this there was almost as much engine above the hood line as there was below. This was still the era of a timing light, dwell meter, and feeler gauges (gotta love those solid lifter cams) in the trunk. The street gasser was the epitome of the street-strip car. Plenty of guys drove their gassers on the street for daily transportation but come the weekend out came the Casler cheater slicks mounted to a set of black steelies and to the dragstrip. Nowadays you can get the same look and experience, well a lot better actually, from the cheater slicks offered by Coker Tire.
However, aside from the nose in the air attitude brought about by the straight axle the most identifiable gasser accessory most assuredly has to be the fenderwell exit headers. These long tube headers would shoot straight out form the exhaust ports and immediately head for the inner fender and then jut downward behind the front rubber. Of course, this meant eliminating the inner fender panels but what the heck they just got in the way. These headers also needed to be painted in the brightest white VHT (high temp) header paint. Nothing looked as good as these bright as snow headers resting under the hood…and you could see them from the outside just peeking from right behind the rubber. It generally didn’t take more than a weekend for these “bright whites” to display the evidence of grease soaked hands, which meant another late Sunday night freshening the headers for another Monday morning…and the cycle of drivin’ out hot rod everyday continues.