Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
Gassers are a very special kind of madness, holding drag fans in their thrall while utterly baffling folks who don't know what they are. They look belligerently strange, they offer surprising performance that often belies their donor bodies' humble roots, and they're just downright nuts.
In the 1940s and '50s, the American street rod scene was flourishing, and drag racing was a natural development. Different race classes evolved, with the gassers being the ones that ran on regular pump gas (or at least some derivative thereof) rather than the alcohol mixtures of the more hardcore builds. Unlike alkies, gassers were the sort of cars that were driven to the strip, raced, then driven home again. And as time passed and competition modifications became increasingly sophisticated, so a certain function-over-form aesthetic developed - they wore skinny front tyres and fat rears, the front ends jacked up to aid weight transfer, with beam axles to save weight, plastic windows, stripped out interiors and, usually, sodding great V8s.
The Money Pit is an example of what happened when the gassers came to Britain. Drag racing arrived in the UK in 1964, and it was immediately popular, with the aesthetics and engineering transferring neatly from US to UK cars. This particular one is a 1957 Ford Thames van - a period build, all pre-1960s and original, including that 318ci (5.2-litre) Mopar V8. Well, it's a bit racier than the Thames' stock 1,172cc sidevalve motor anyway...
Spotted at the 2015 Goodwood Revival - more photos here.