This 1955 Chevy Gasser Relives the Past
When taking on the build of any hot rod it’s always smart to start with a well-balanced plan, regardless of whether you’re going to build a show car, reliable driver, or something in between. For Matt Bakas of Georgetown, Massachusetts, forming his idea for the perfect hop-up started back when he was knee-high to a Deuce bumper since he still has his first entrance ticket to New England Dragway from when he was 5 years old. Being born into an automotive family it was a tradition to visit the dragstrip with his dad, Mark, and brothers, Andrew and Dave, to experience the fusion of nitro and smoky burnouts on a regular basis. It was there that he started a lifelong fascination with nostalgia racing showcasing Gassers with mile-high stances; supercharged V-8s and candy paint.
As the years passed he became involved with the restoration of his dad’s 1966 big-block Chevelle while also honing his mechanical skills. This led to him building a street/strip competitive Chevy S-10 pickup that was running in the low 10s at the strip. Once out of high school he followed the path while working at Dan Page Race Cars in Hampstead, New Hampshire, for a number of years. Even with all of his past experiences he still yearned to build his first Gasser. As fate would have it, his uncle Paul gave him a contact on a listing for 1955 Chevy parts that would lead him to a complete 210 in need of a full rebuild. Knowing the car could be saved, Matt made a deal and hauled it home to lay out a game plan.
To start, the original frame was blasted clean and boxed for additional strength. From the firewall forward he then fabricated 2×4-inch rectangular framerails along with custom crossmembers. Out back a Currie Enterprises 9-inch rear packs a Strange S-Trac with matching 35-spline axles and 4.71 gears. It’s all suspended in place by parallel leaf springs from Danchuk, CalTracs bars, and Lakewood 70/30 tube shocks relocated behind the axle housing. To nail the perfect Gasser stance Matt started with a 1956 Chevy 1/2-ton truck axle with matching spindles combined with parallel leaf springs from Summit Racing and Lakewood 50/50 tube shocks. When its time to drop anchor, a dual master pushes fluid through steel lines to 11-inch rear drums matched with front discs and calipers from Speedway Motors. Linking it to the street with era-perfect looks you’ll find a set of American Racing Torq-Thrusts D wheels sized 15×6 front and 15×10 rear wearing Firestone/Coker rubber.
When it came time to building a wicked mill it was obvious the engine would need the ultimate in performance parts to get the job done. Matt had Boucher’s Automotive Machine Shop in Rowley machine a 1970 Chevy 400ci block to perfection. It’s packed with an Eagle 4340 forged steel crank linked to matching H-beam rods topped with SRP forged aluminum pistons getting bumped from a Crower stick. A set of Dart Pro 1 aluminum heads make plenty of power while an Edelbrock Pro Ram II tunnel ram intake is fed by a pair of Holley 750-cfm carbs capped with velocity stacks. An MSD ignition lights the fire while Hooker fenderwell headers dump spent gases through a custom exhaust with Dynomax Ultra Flo mufflers. To move the goods a TREMEC TKO-600 updated by Liberty Gears links to a Strange Engineering chromoly driveshaft.
To bring the vintage steel back to life Matt got started by stripping the body to bare metal to address a number of issues, including the floors, trunk, and rockers. With the sheetmetal back in solid condition he continued by radiusing the rear wheel openings and also creating an opening in the hood to clear the velocity stacks. He then set all the gaps and metal-finished the body to prepare it for a subtle coating of Diamont Wilderness Green vibe to bring the project to life.
Inside it’s all business starting with the restored factory dash filled with original gauges accented by dials from Mooneyes to monitor the vitals. An original steering wheel mounts to an ididit column to set the course while a Pro-5.0 shifter with a Hurst handle pulls gears. To complete the nostalgic look, Mitch’s Kustoms of Monson nailed it with a perfect combination of black vinyl rolls and pleats for the stock seats with matching panels accented by black loop carpeting. This Chevy is making itself known on the streets and at the dragstrip and to us that’s the real deal.
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