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Turn a First-Gen Nova into a Gasser - Up, Up, And Away

How to easily turn your first-gen Nova into a gasser with B'z Rods' bolt on straight-axle front clip.

By , Photography by Robert McGaffin

Back in the late '50s, a trend started to show up at dragstrips across the country, as horsepower and speeds began to climb. Racers were looking for any way possible to lighten their cars, and change the center of gravity to transfer more weight to the traction limited tires of the time. Guys were taking out factory independent front suspensions and grafting in straight-axles from trucks and other heavy duty vehicles. This was a simple way to shed weight from the front end, and change the stance of a car and transfer more weight to the rear wheels. And so, the gasser look was born. It exploded during the early '60s, and if the owner added fenderwell headers, bright paint, colored Lexan windows, and some sort of name like "Widow Maker" or "Gas Attack" in gold leaf lettering, the cars really stood out. The trend continued until tire technology negated the need for such radical weight transfer.

Given enough time, just about any trend or fad will return, and we can tell you with no uncertainty gassers are back. What's great about a trend coming back into the spotlight is the parts get better, thanks to today's modern manufacturing processes. So, instead of scouring a junkyard for a rusty truck with a straight axle under it, then scabbing it onto your factory framerails, you can order an entire front clip ready to go, straight axle and all.

Brian Bell, proprietor of B'z Rods, has over 30 years experience building hot rods and race cars of all types. Brian says, "We are builders and fabricators of custom hot rods, street rods, and classic race cars, including gassers, vintage drag, modified and sportsman stock cars. My guys, Gene Pennington and Pat Norton, are the most meticulous builders/fabricators I have ever dealt with."

Brian and his crew have just put the finishing touches on their gasser front clip for first-generation Chevy IIs. The clips are all made in-house at B'z Rods. The geometry, spring rates, and steering has been perfected, and B'z even equips the clips with disc brakes. One thing that plagued older gassers was bumpsteer, but this new clip has a front steer configuration, effectively eliminating bumpsteer. The clips are made to completely replace the existing front clip, and allow for all the sheetmetal to bolt right back on, with the exception of the inner wheelwells. This story will show you what it takes to install one of the B'z Rods Gasser front clips on a clean street/strip car.

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