If history stands correct, you’re never too young to step into the world of hot rodding. Regardless of whether you got your first introduction in the form of magazines, scale kit models, or by watching the bigger kids in your neighborhood doing engine swaps, one thing is for sure: Once you were influenced, it held you for life.

For Andy McDonald of Edgewater, Maryland, it was hanging out with his dad that turned on that magic light, indoctrinating him into a passion for hopped-up Detroit muscle. He was fortunate enough to grow up with a yard full of cars while sharing the quest with dear old Dad to locate as many Tri-Five Chevys and related parts as they could.

As he got older he began to frequent local dragstrips, like Capital Raceway and Maryland International Raceway (both in Maryland) to watch some of the top names in the sport tear up the quarter-mile. His main influences growing up included the Stone, Woods & Cook Willys Gasser, and the well-traveled Project X from Popular Hot Rodding magazine, as it underwent a dizzying array of engine combinations as the years passed by.

Another major influence was the ’55 Chevy driven by Harrison Ford in American Graffiti with its evil stance and radiused wheelwells, which further fueled the fire. By the time he was 14, his dad gave him a ’57 Chevy 210 model two-door sedan to get started on and worked with him to begin the rebuild, commencing with the mechanical upgrades. He continued to build and race numerous Tri-Fives as well as Camaros and other GM models but never forgot the adrenalin rush he got when watching Gassers launch off the line under the lights at the dragstrip.

Fast forward a number of years and after meeting and marrying his lovely wife, Mickey, and raising a family it was time to get back involved in the hobby. Still owning the original ’57 his dad gave him as a teen, he tore the car down to bare bones with the intention of rebuilding it into a Gasser while at the same time owning a number of Tri-Fives, Camaros, and Novas. You never know when that next car will come calling and one afternoon the phone rang and it was good friend Courtney Accititer, of Old Town Automobile in Huntingtown, Maryland, to tell him about a lead he just received on a wicked ’55 Chevy Gasser. That’s all it took to generate Andy’s interests and without wasting any time he immediately went to check out the car. When he saw it, he was immediately transported back to the ’70s when he was a teenager watching cars launch hard from the line at the local tracks. The car was everything he’d ever hoped for and was even lettered to pay homage to one of the greats of the day, the Tuff-E-Nuff ’55 (originally campaigned as Mr. Tuff). The deal was made and the car was driven home to his shop and parked alongside the ’57 currently undergoing the resurrection. Although he’d done quite a bit of research to locate the car’s original builder, it remains to be determined at this point in time so let’s just check out what it took to bring this wicked ’55 to life. To create a rock solid base ready to take plenty of abuse, a new spine was constructed from 2x4 rectangular steel, complete with custom crossmembers, floor bracing, and tubular firewall support tubes. For a bulletproof rear, a Ford 9-inch was packed with 3.55:1 gears and anchored in place by a combination of Carrera coilover shocks and Speedway Motors ladder bars ensuring plenty of traction. Nothing says Gasser like a nosebleed stance, and a Speedway Motors kit provided all the right parts straight from the box. A dropped tube axle was matched to fresh ’49-54 Chevy spindles, and secured in place by a combination of multi-leaf, semi-elliptical springs and chrome tube shocks. To tame the beast a dual reservoir master pushes fluid to each corner through stainless lines with 12-inch Wilwood discs and matching calipers out back and 10-inch versions up front. For a classic look, 15-inch Cragar S/S wheels set the pace capped with Moroso Drag Specials up front and Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials out back.

With the stance and chassis completed, it was time to ensure there was plenty of horsepower on tap, starting with a fresh 454ci big-block Chevy packed with loads of speed shop goodies, including a COMP Cams roller stick, 8.5:1 slugs, and warmed-over GM cast-iron heads. A pair of Holley 750-cfm carbs suck plenty of air though a Weiand 6-71 huffer while an MSD ignition lights the fire and spent gases get dumped from 2-inch baffled Hooker fenderwell headers. Power moves through a Richmond Super T-10, four-speed to a custom driveshaft to spin plenty of rubber out back.

It’s obvious a lot of attention to detail went into the body both in the prep and finish stages prior to a flawless coating of vibrant blue pearl being applied. To personify the Gasser Wars era, the body was then lettered with just enough classic accents inspired by the original Mr. Tuff ’55 Chevy. Completing the exterior look, a Moon tank was mounted in place atop the front tow bar, and a Hilborn-style intake scoop proudly protrudes through the fiberglass tilt nose while a fiberglass trunklid and rear bumper round out the look. The final icing comes via the blue tinted glass and venomous stance.

Inside the car is all business, like a race car should be. A pair of high-back race bucket seats covered in black Naugahyde look right at home along with Simpson five-point harnesses and a full 1-3/4-inch rollcage. To take care of business, an ididit column topped with a Speedway Motors blue metalflake steering wheel looks cool while gear changes work through a Hurst Competition Plus shifter. The stock dash was filled with Auto Meter dials to monitor the vitals while Tilton pedals move the power. Andy and Mickey have been laying down endless miles in the ’55, as their newest ’57 Gasser is well underway in the construction phase. To us it doesn’t get any better than that.

Tech Tips

COMP Cams

How to select the correct fuel pump pushrod

When you are upgrading your camshaft in a vehicle equipped with a mechanical fuel pump, you may also need to upgrade your fuel pump pushrod to ensure compatibility with your new cam. The material that the pushrod is made from must be softer than the camshaft material. This will keep your engine running both safely and at peak performance.

FAST

Voltage matters

On an EZ-EFI system, the pink wire on the harness needs to get 12 V in the crank and run position. If it does not, running of the EZ-EFI will be affected.

Inglese

How do I keep trash out of my stacks?

Inglese Metal Screen Filters are the best way to keep larger trash and debris from becoming lodged within a custom Inglese EFI System. They are designed to bolt into place out of sight between the throttle body and stacks.

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