Gasser—it’s a super cool build style that started at the local dragstrips in the mid-’60s and spread like wildfire to the streets. At least that’s how it was in Southern California with the guys and gals that liked the badass look of a lifted dragster. One couldn’t pass a high school parking lot in the vicinity of Irwindale, Pomona, or Long Beach without spotting a jacked-up something sitting high above the crowd on extended rear shackles and a straight-axle in front.
For Darryl Nance, proprietor of D&P Classic Chevy in Huntington Beach, California, it’s all about reliving the glory days. Darryl is the owner of the 1964 Chevelle two-door wagon gracing these pages and he told us there’s no two ways about it, street gassers were fun back in the mid-’60s and still are even today. Darryl went on to say, “Like D&P’s customers, we all like to relive the glory days and I wanted something that made a statement about the good old days.” Darryl found the basis for his gasser wagon while attending a Tri-Five show in Bullhead City, Arizona. “It was a shell of a car missing a lot of hard-to-find parts surrounded by a bunch of cars that should have been sent to a scrapyard a long time ago. It took quite a period of time to track down the rare parts I needed. Special thanks need to go to Scott in Hesperia for all of his help tracking down the many parts the wagon was missing.”
After Darryl had all of the miscellaneous rare parts tracked down the next move was to have D&P Classic Chevy’s in-house staff of bodymen go to town on the sheetmetal to get it ready to go into paint. For paint, Darryl looked to his friend Paul Stoll at PPG to custom mix a PPG Ditzler basecoat/clearcoat pearlescent butterscotch hue they call Screamin’ Yellow. D&P’s master painter Little Al shot the stunning finish and then custom painter extraordinaire Steve Vandemon laid down stripes, genuine gold leaf lettering, and capped it with a caricature of the Master Cylinder.
Looking inward, the interior of Darryl’s ’64 two-door wagon is covered in a very popular-at-the-time black vinyl with a factory-correct grain thanks to the restoration parts specialists at Original Parts Group (OPG). Interestingly, the 1964-’65 Chevelle two-door wagon’s door and rear side panels are unique to the two-door wagon and thankfully OPG has them. All of the interior upholstery work was done in-house at D&P using OPG kits, including the black loop pile carpeting. The front seat is a stock ’64 Chevelle bench with the rear seat eliminated. Safety equipment includes a Chris Alston’s Chassisworks rollbar and a dashboard full of Auto Meter gauges.
Under the hood there’s a big, nasty LS7 Rat engine built by RC Performance of Huntington Beach, with all the go-fast trimmings. On top of the hood a blower scoop on two big Holley four-barrel carbs pokes through from its base on a Weiand tunnel-ram intake manifold. A Crane cam handles valvetrain operations and 12.5:1 pistons ensure only the highest octane gasoline will work without pinging. Although it’s doubtful pinging would be audible over the sound of the in-the-well Thorley headers running through a custom 4-inch exhaust system by Automotive Excellence of Huntington Beach. The ignition system is from MSD, and the cooling system is a four-row copper and brass radiator from U.S. Radiator.
A well-known name in drag racing circles from way back in the day of gassers, Art Carr California Performance Transmissions in Huntington Beach, built the beefed TH400 automatic transmission. A custom-made driveshaft from Drivelines Inc. of Irvine, California, bridges the gap between the Art Carr TH400 and J&S Gear 12-bolt Chevy rearend packing 4.88 gears with limited-slip.
The heart and soul of a gasser is its straight-axle frontend. In the ’60s it wasn’t uncommon to find every old pickup in the junkyard was missing its straight-axle because someone snagged it to build a gasser. To fit the bill for Darryl’s gasser build he sent away to Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska, for one of their straight-axle kits.
The P in D&P stands for Peggy, Darryl’s wife, and it was the ’64 Chevelle wagon Darryl owned while he was dating Peggy back in the early ’70s that inspired him to build the car. Darryl said he wanted something fun and made a statement about the good old days, and we’d say he found it.