Detroit hot rodders may never forget the white headers gleaming through the wheel openings,the blazing blue paint, the skyscraping stance, and the about-to-devour every thingin-my-way attitude of the '57 Chevy street gasser that growled its way up Woodward Avenue last summer. When Todd Haas and Jimmy Shine team up on a project, the results have a way of making an impression.
A few years ago, Jimmy, one of SO-CAL Speed Shop's best builders, had both hands in the buildup of the '34 Ford Ecotec roadster owned by Todd and his uncle, David Haas. The Haas Racing team drove that streetlegal roadster to the Bonneville Salt Flats, ran 210 mph, and drove it back to Pomona. Jimmy was their crew chief during that now-famous road trip. Todd's '57 Chevy 150 was the push car. In 2007, Todd and Jimmy got together again to turn the '57 into a modern-day version of a 1960s gasser. The Chevy had belonged to Todd's father, Bob, who passed away in 2001.
Todd said they had always talked about how the no-frills '57 would make a great gasser. When it was time to turn the concept into something real, Todd knew he wanted Jimmy to be involved-so he went back to SO-CAL Speed Shop where the conversation he'd originally had with his father continued with Jimmy and Pete Chapouris. As with the roadster, the goal with the Chevy was to build a car that was completely street-legal, and could hold its own-even dominate-in competition.
We couldn't wait until the car was finished before showing you some photos. Our write-up on the rolling chassis appeared in the April 2007 issue. Jimmy built the chassis around the stock frame, but replaced the frontend with fresh 2x4 tubular 'rails (which extend the wheelbase by about 5/8-inch) and fabricated an amazing front and rear suspension. He attached the bars of the five-point chrome 'cage with slip joints, so they can be disassembled in a matter of minutes. Three moon tanks were installed to carry fuel: two larger tanks in the trunk for pump gas and a 3 1/2-gallon tank mounted on the spreader bar for race gas.
John Beck at Pro machine gave the full hot rod treatment to the 27 small-block, fed by six Holley two-barrel carburetors with handmade stacks sticking through the hood.
The sheetmetal was in good shape at the beginning of the build, and was cut and channeled over the frame. The body was already painted at the time of our previous story and has since been lettered. "Bob Haas Chevrolet" on the rear panels is an homage to Todd's dad. "Callahan & mackenzie," painted on the doors, are the names of Todd's toddler son and infant daughter. A rear seat was created and custom brackets for kid seats were installed, so the whole team can ride in the car.
They'll have plenty of chances to do that, since Todd seems determined to keep the gasser on the street. One street he's already been to is Woodward Avenue, during the Woodward Dream Cruise in August, where the Detroit crowd was quick with the compliments. The comments that meant the most came from a bunch of Bob Haas' old buddies, who loved the '57 and were sure Bob would've loved it too.
What street-or strip-will Todd's dual-purpose gasser show up on next? Ours, we hope.
Osprey , Florida
'57 Chevy 150 Gasser
The balanced and blueprinted '64 327 was bored and stroked to 336 ci at Pro machine in Chico, California, where engine builder John Beck rebuilt the mouse motor with 10.5:1 KB pistons, high-performance camel-hump heads, and a COmP Cams camshaft. The combination makes 406 hp. Jimmy Shine built the stacks and progressive linkage for the six Holley 2110 carbs, mounted on an Edelbrock X-1 cross-ram manifold. Jimmy built the headers, which direct gases to Hushpower Flowmaster mufflers. The small-block is linked to a Hurst-shifted Muncie m21 transmission, using a Centerforce clutch.
Jimmy customized the stock frame, and he also added a 2x4 tubular frontend plus a custom transmission crossmember. An original '32 non-dropped axle was drilled. Original '40 Ford spindles were used along with transverse leaves, Pete & Jake's front shocks, SO-CAL hairpins on custom mounts, and a custom-built Panhard bar for improving handling. The Ford 9-inch houses 4.88:1 gears with limited slip. Rear suspension includes traction bars, and factory coilovers attached at a set of custom bungs welded to the back of the axle. The rear leaves were swapped left to right and hung inside the frame.
Wheels & Tires
Mickey Thompson 8.20-15 cheater slicks are mounted on American Racing Standards, which were produced in the '60s. These polished aluminum fourspokes were produced in a limited number and are rare rims. Jimmy Shine modified the wheels, and custom spring mounts in order to center the slicks in the wheelwells. The front 10-spokes are aluminum E-T gassers with a five-lug bolt pattern, rolling on 5.60-15 Pro-Trac tires.
Body & Paint
The '57 had been built and maintained by Todd's father, Bob, and the photos we've seen show a laser-straight body in good condition. The body was channeled over the 'rails. The grille and front bumper are gone, but the rear bumper, distinctive 150 side trim, and most of the rest of the chrome trim are intact. Abe Rodriguez at Abe's Custom Paint in Riverside, California, handled the lead work to prep the body for paint, and sprayed the cobalt blue paint (reminiscent of the mooneyham & Sharp '34 coupe). 'Striper extraordinaire Dennis Ricklefs applied the lettering, as well as the pinstriping on the decklid.
Gasser cockpits were originally built for function over form, but today are copied for their coolness. Ron mangus in Rialto, California, finished the inside of Todd's Chevy, adding Dodge van seats covered with white tuck 'n' roll. It's a little more comfortable than a typical '60s gasser, but those old drag cars weren't intended for trips longer than a few seconds; Todd has some more extensive traveling in mind. The stock 150 didn't come with a rear seat either, but Todd's has a full bench. Jimmy fabricated brackets so child seats can be installed when Callahan and mackenzie want to ride. Stewart Warner gauges were installed in the stock dash, with a Sun "football" tach mounted on top. The racing steering wheel and gas pedal are from moon and the belts are from Simpson. Jimmy built the five-point cage.