What comes to mind when you hear the word “Gasser”? For many, visions of a nose-high Tri-Five come to mind, and naturally so. While ’55-57 Chevys only comprise a fraction of actual Gasser material, next to a ’30s-40s Willys, they just seem to best fit the mold for a good number of street-driven versions we’re mostly all familiar with. But, all Gassers are not created equal—not by a long shot. Some, as you’re about to see, are just as suited on today’s highways and byways as they are on a quarter-mile strip.
When Ohioan Doug Huff first set out to build himself a Gasser, his aspirations were of the norm; “…a primered-up and lettered old-time looking race car”, as he recalls. After initially locating a rusty hulk of a ’57 sedan body shell, the game was changed big-time when he went to see a particular used parts dealer about buying some fenders and miscellaneous parts. “I ended up buying him completely out … I had four semi-trailers and two buildings full of parts to bring home!”
In short, instead of having to rely on whatever parts he could scrounge up from abroad, Doug had amassed an inventory of parts to choose from (the only exception being a solid frame, which he would later find). Ultimately, this is where the project went from ragtag to rotisseried resto. As Doug readily admits, “Well, I got a little carried away and finished the car inside and out … every piece on this car was the best I could find.” Not only did Doug incorporate the cream of his newly acquired parts crop, he executed their fit and finish better than the employees on the GM assembly could’ve ever imagined half a century ago.
But he didn’t go it alone, and he’s quick to give credit wherever it’s due. “At the time, Dave Pleasant, of Quality Machine Company (Dayton, Ohio) was starting to build a ’55 straight-axle car. We got together and he helped me build my frame and suspension; I ended up doing the body mods and paint on his car.” All nestled in a clean, box-plated framework, Pleasant’s chassis contributions include a parallel leaf hung and sprung tube axle up front with a 4.11-geared 9-inch rear with custom-built traction bars out back. The finished assembly rolls on a set of polished-aluminum (Halibrand/ET-III–inspired) Majestic Type 787s.
And as you may have already noticed, there’s no roots-type blower sticking out the hood—actually, there’s no hood, either. No, Doug probably figured he’d get more behind-the-wheel enjoyment out of his ’57 if he went with a modest mode of naturally aspirated motivation. Using an early ’70s block machined by Fetters Racing Engines, he personally assembled the 355 with steel GM rods and crank and a set of iron Dart heads. And to utilize the small-block’s potential on both the top and low end, not to mention accommodate the shorter rear gear, he opted for a Tremec TKO 600 six-speed trans.
When it came time for the fit and finish (pre-finish, that is) of all the cherry-picked parts, Doug enlisted the help of his son, Mike, and longtime cohort Boyd Spencer, the latter of which is credited with applying the DuPont two-tone paintjob. Aside from the interior, a rudimentary bare-bones upholstery job mimicking the original 150 style by Rick Futrell, the majority of the build was handled in-house.
When asked what part of the Chevy stands out the most, Doug had two things to say: “This car is very special to me because it’s the last car that my partner of over 30 years—Boyd Spencer—worked on before he retired. And the most memorable experience was taking the ’57 to Kil-Kare Dragway to the old-time drags and running it with Dave Pleasant’s ’55.” That said, we don’t expect to see this car roll across an auction block or appear in the classifieds any time soon.