Chevy has a long history of creating performance vehicles beloved by modification enthusiasts. Recently restored versions of ’57 Chevrolet models used in drag racing provide a tangible link to Chevy’s proud history of American ingenuity and passion.
A Gas from the Past
Many 50s era Chevys found themselves going from the Chevy dealership to the race track as the vehicles became popular among drag races. Many of the vehicles were converted into gassers – hot rods stripped of extra weight and jacked up to allow for better weight distribution on acceleration.
The front end of a gasser was typically raised higher than the stock to aid in weight transfer during rapid acceleration. Gassers were also renowned for having very flamboyant lettering and designs painted on their sides. Chevy vehicles were often used as gassers, as they were inexpensive and easy to modify.
In the late 50s and 60s, gassers were extremely popular, and teams of drag racers driving gassers competed throughout the U.S. Enthusiasts used any number of tricks and tweaks to achieve better results, including cutting weight with fiberglass body panels and Plexiglas windows, and increasing performance by installing larger and more powerful engines.
Gassers have a very unique look, thanks to their often-oversized engines and unique suspension. Car manufacturers often used photos of gassers in their promotional materials and ads, thanks to the iconic look of these remarkable vehicles.
All good things eventually come to an end, however. Gassers eventually fell out of style in the 70s, as drag racing turned to other, newer vehicles. Many gassers ended up in junkyards, while others were tucked away for decades in garages. In recent years, as car restoration television shows have become more popular, gassers have enjoyed a resurgence in interest.
The ’57 Bel Air
A growing number of old gassers are being found and restored, as interest in them grows. Consider a ’57 Bel Air model recently found in Green Bay by a writer for “Hot Rod.” After searching car yards for parts for another vehicle, the author found a ’57 Bel Air with many of its original parts.
After purchasing the car, an extensive renovation project began, and over time the writer made contact with the original owner of the vehicle and another owner who raced it in the 70s. The project turned out to be not just a great restoration, but also an interesting lesson in America’s automotive history.
Today, Chevrolet vehicles remain popular among people who love performance vehicles. Chevy cars and trucks are much-beloved among the modification community, and souped-up Chevys are often the center of attention at car shows and fairs across the U.S.
For a Chevy you can call your own, visit Valley Chevy, a Spencer Chevrolet dealer, serving the Terre Haute and Bloomington, Indiana area. Valley Chevy has a wide range of new and used Chevys on the lot, and our parts and service department can advise you on the latest and greatest aftermarket products for your Chevy.