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.
Rod & Custom Feature Car
West Milton, Ohio
1957 Chevrolet 150 Sedan
With the help of Dave Pleasant/Quality Machine Company (Dayton, OH), Doug was able to turn a solid ’57 passenger car frame into an even more solid Gasser chassis. The ’rails are reinforced front to rear and the wheelbase extended 2 inches by incorporating a new forward section that includes custom crossmembers and engine/suspension mounts. A Speedway Motors parallel leaf setup locates a tube front axle equipped with Speedway spindles and GM disc brakes; a Ford 9-inch limited-slip rear utilizes leaf springs as well but with added traction bar support.
Rather than going with an outrageously blown big-block as many would assume, Doug chose to go the more sensible (shall we say “anti-gas”?) route for the Chevy’s powertrain. Using a ’70s-vintage SBC machined and prepped by Fetters Racing Engines (West Milton, OH), he assembled a mild yet respectable Mouse motor that features a steel crank, TRW 10:1 pistons, COMP cam, iron Dart cylinder heads, PerTronix ignition, and an Edelbrock intake topped with a 4150 Holley carb. The unique-looking fenderwell exhaust starts with a set of Hooker headers, terminating with baffled collectors. Behind the 355 Doug installed a Tremec six-speed outfitted with a Centerforce clutch, connected to the aforementioned 9-inch (with 31-spline axles and a 4.11 ring-and-pinion) with a custom-made driveshaft from American Driveline.
Body & Paint
Having the “fortune” of being able to rely on an entire inventory of vintage Chevy parts certainly helped with the project, but ultimately it was the combined labor effort contributed by Doug, his son, Mike, and former partner Boyd Spencer who truly get the credit for the flawless fit and finish of the ’57 (paint by Spencer). Not present on the car at the moment are a hood (hanging in the garage), complete grille surround, or front bumper—but from the firewall back, Doug did manage to install the 150’s trim package, door handles, rear bumper, etc.
Wheels & Tires
The fully detailed chassis rolls on a quartet of period-influenced and polished aluminum Majestic wheels (15x6 and 15x8, respectively) capped with 195/75R15 Mastercraft radials up front and the appropriate 30x10x15 M/T slicks out back.
Spartan is key for not only your average Gasser interior, but for a stock 150 sedan as well. Rick Futrell (Dayton, OH) redid the Chevy’s innards in OE fashion using mostly black cloth and vinyl trimmings with the cobblestone accent pieces on the (front only) bench seat. Doug added a bit of ’70s “flair” by throwing in a set of Keep On Truckin’ floormats, but aside from an early Sun tach and a ’69 Corvette steering wheel, the interior is mostly stock.