Body Styles: What Is A Gasser And Where Did It Come From?

The term “Gasser” refers to a style of drag race car that was prolific in the late 1950s through the 1960s that ran on gasoline as fuel, as opposed to race fuel. These cars typically competed in “heads up” drag races that were classed by engine size and car weight.

In the faster classes the cars used a straight axle front suspension that produced the imitating stance that gassers are known for. Easily recognized by common features like the higher front end stance that was developed as a means of weight transfer to the rear wheels for traction. This style became popular later as builders attempted to achieve a traditional or nostalgic race look.

These cars became fan favorites as the well-known racers began to run “grudge matches” for higher purses. In no time these matches were the top billing at many shows due to the crowd entertainment factor. Gassers were the top drag racing classes in the period that is now referred to as “the gasser war years,” which ranged from 1955 through 1968.

Photo from wikipedia.org

In addition to the straight axle, most gassers also sported Halibrand wheels, no front bumper, and had a front mounted Moon tank. The gasser form was dictated by function and most builders looked to eliminate as much weight as possible. Having their exhaust pipes exit through the front fender to shorten the length of exhaust tubing is another common characteristic of gassers.

Builders used 1930s through 1950s production coupes or sedans to create these highly modified racing vehicles. The most common base vehicles were Willys coupes, Austin and Anglia sedans, and the Chevy Tri-Five cars. Late model cars were not allowed in the Gas classes until 1967, and the gas classes were totally eliminated by NHRA in 1972.

Most popular cars used as gassers:

  • 1933 Willys Model 77 Coupe
  • 1940 Willys
  • 1941 Willys Americar
  • 1948 Anglia
  • 1949 Chevy Fleetline or Styleline
  • 1951 Henry J
  • 1955 Ford T-Bird
  • 1955 Chevy Nomad
  • 1955 Chevy
  • 1957 Corvette

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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