Friday, October 24, 2008

Sixties Era Gasser--55 Chevy--Getting Started

I'm pretty jazzed about Sixties era gassers--I think of them as funny cars before there really were funny cars. After seeing a few at Billet Proof I decided to read more about them and see if I could build something in scale, with the eventual goal being to build this 1:1 (if I ever have the money or the space).

it's a heck of a lot cheaper to buy a few kits then the 1:1 parts....I got two Chevy kits from ModelRoundup, Revell/Monogram's '55 Chevy Bel Air Hardtop 2n1 #85-2069 and AMT/Ertl's 1955 Chevy BelAir Street Machine #31931. The AMT appears to be a reissue of a 55 Chevy kit originally tooled decades ago; the Revell kit has what the hobby mags call "modern tooling". The difference between the two is profound--the Revell kit has significantly better detail, a higher parts count, and generally (to my eyes anyway) shows how model kit manufacturing has improved over the years.

This isn't going to be a "box stock" build (nothing I do ever is) so I got some additional kits out of which I will steal gasser parts: Revell's 51 Henry J #85-2036; Revell's Big John Mazmanian 41 Willys Gasser #85-2350; and Revell's Thames Panel Truck #7609. All three kits have some really great parts; the Olds engine with Hillborn Injection in the Revell Panel Truck is especially nifty.

So which body to use of the 2 donor chevy kits? That's an easy choice. The roofline of the AMT Bel Air doesn't look right to me--it looks more like a 57 Sport Coupe's, but it's not a hardtop--I am told it's a 55 "Club Coupe" which had on the 1:1 car a different roof then the hardtop. Bottom line, to me it just doesn't look right, so I am going with the Revell body.

The Revell Bel Air kit has one of those "all in one" chassis/frames, which is beautifully detailed and molded but not what I want for a Sixties era gasser. On the right is the frame from the Henry J kit. Its wheelbase is way too short for the Chevy, and it has a lot of ejection pins and whatnot that will need cleaning up, but I figure it's easier to use the Henry J frame as a base, and extend its wheelbase, then build the whole frame from stylene tube.

I modified the interior floor from the 51 Henry J by marrying the front section of the 55 interior to it. I saw gussets on one the floorboards of a gasser at the Billet Proof show so I added them here; in general the gassers there were more about lightness and strength then looking completely clean.

On the web there are a few builders who complain loudly about what a crappy kit the 51 Henry J is. I won't know, because I will never build it, it's just a donor kit for the project. Whatever assembly issues may exist with it, it has some great parts! For instance a very cool quick change rear end and a gnarly representation of (what I think is) a big block Chevy motor. I am not sure why, but I want a Chevy motor in this and not Mopar/Hemi. Not sure if this is going to be a "GS" (supercharged) gasser or a "G" (non-supercharged) gasser yet.

Next time: I'm just out of the starting blocks on this build. Lots of work down the road!!!

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