Daly’s Machine: The Story Of A 1955 Chevy Gasser

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Sharing cool hot rod stories is what we’re all about! Which is why this is such a great one to share; the story of a hometown hero and childhood dreams, a story about a boy who grew up to build the car that he loved watching race at the strip as a kid. It’s the story of bonding and the love for a very particular automobile – this bitchin’ 1955 Chevy gasser known as Daly’s Machine.

Dan is 51 years old now and he lives in Omaha, Nebraska, a town which he has called home for most of his life. It was in Omaha that Dan discovered his love for cars and racing. His favorite pastime growing up was attending races at Cornhusker Raceway and watching the gassers. He enjoyed watching those supercharged coupes line up at the tree, pop their clutch and seeing their front wheels lift into the air as they flew down the strip.  

The car he loved watching the most was a 1955 Chevy gasser nicknamed Daly’s Machine. This ’55 Chevy was owned by local racing legend named Mike Daly who happened to live on the same street as Dan’s childhood home. Every time Dan saw that ’55, he dreamed of being behind the wheel, racing and crushing all of the competition!

The original Daly’s Machine that Dan grew up watching at the drag strip. He would dream one day of clenching his white knuckles on the wheel of his own.

In 2009, Dan’s dream would come true! He would own Daly’s Machine! He wouldn’t own the actual Daly’s Machine, but he would begin building an exact replica of the car, with the help of Mike Daly himself! Dan was 48 years old and he was finally going to have the car he always dreamed about as a kid.

Dan began by purchasing a 1955 Chevy in Georgia. This ’55 Chevy had been sitting in the back of a garage since 1968. The ’55 Chevy was nothing more than a shell, but it had minimal rust, the floors and the trunk were completely rust free! Dan wanted his car to be authentic and as true to the original as possible, this meant he had to replace the IFS with a solid axle front suspension just like the original.

Dan wanted an exact replica of the original powerplant which was a 392 ci Hemi V-8. Dan purchased one from a man in Utah. Dan took the motor to Daly’s Machine (the machine shop owned by Mike Daly) where a Hillborn EFI system and a Weiand supercharger were added. The original Daly’s Machine used mechanical injection, which Dan considered using, however he planned to drive his ’55 Chevy daily and felt that an EFI system would be more practical.

Daly’s then put the finishing touches on the motor by machining custom cylinder heads for the engine and replacing the stock internals with 8.5:1 Ross pistons. Dan did some machining of his own, as he hand made an oil pan from a few old ones that Mike Daly had laying around the shop.

Since the front suspension and the engine were true to the original Daly’s Machine, the rear suspension had to be that way as well. The original Daly’s Machine had a quarter-elliptical rear suspension, so Dan created this by taking some of his leafs and flipping them. A shorter housing on the axle was added to make room for bigger tires and a 9-inch rear end was added as well. To keep the rear suspension authentic, ladder bars were added as a finishing touch.

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Both of the Daly’s Machines are almost 100 percent identical, the only major difference is their exterior paint jobs. The original Daly’s Machine went through several different paint schemes over the years; it started out as a black car with a red stripe before being painted silver in the early 70’s, and finally being given a multi-colored paint job in the mid 70’s.

Dan’s replica is painted silver, similar to the paint job the original had in the early 70’s. The difference is Dan’s features hand-painted graphics on the side of the car that are inspired by the classic Monogram Model ’55 Chevy known as Badman. The final touch on the car is the gold lettering of Dan’s Daly’s Machine on the door, which he did by hand. After Dan finished painting it, his Daly’s Machine was complete!

The completed Daly's Machine ready to race.

Since being finished, Dan drives his Daly’s Machine around Omaha fairly often. The car has been featured in several car shows including a Super Chevy Show and the O’Reilly World of Wheels. The only thing that his car hasn’t done that is keeping it from being a true replica is make a pass down the drag strip.

To all of you young and old gearheads out there, one day you too could build a replica of your favorite childhood hot rod!

Mike Daly and Dan’s Daly’s Machine.

About the author

Josh Courter

Josh Courter is a Power Automedia freelancer with a serious passion for anything custom. Rods, classics, sleds, and even motorcycles provide inspiration for Josh along with his passion for automotive history.
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