Here’s an interesting pair that was recently just shown at this past 2014 SEMA show in Las Vegas. Apparently, this 1955 Chevy Bel Air Gasser is all original as it was last raced in ’76, and was only recently reunited with the restored hauler that it used to piggy back on to the track. Check out the story of the “Mr. Chevy” duo on the following page…
1955 Chevy Bel Air Gasser “Mr. Chevy”/ 1955 Chevy 4400 Truck
The car is a surviving race car that was built to this configuration in 1968 and raced until 1976 by Van Heck of Southwestern Illinois. Heck was as much of a showman as a racer, as evidenced by the incredible detail on the car and truck. One fateful day in 1976, Heck broke a universal joint in the car at the track, loaded the car on to this very hauler, then was hit by a drunk driver on his way home from the track, totaling the truck. Luckily, the car was not damaged in the crash, but it still shows the hole in the quarter panel from the u-joint failure!
Unfortunately, Heck parked the car and truck in a barn that day and never drove them again. He passed away in 2006, and Mr. Chevy and the hauler are now owned by Larry Frees, an acquaintance of Heck who cleaned up Mr. Chevy and returned it to its last-day-raced condition. All the parts on the car -the Hillborn injected 327, the straight-axle suspension, wild interior, exterior and stickers – are all as they were in ’76, down to the 38+ year old Firestone tires! This combination was reported to be good for low 10 second quarter mile times in the 70’s.
The hauler was treated to a cosmetic restoration to fix the damage from the crash and to make it road-ready once again. Larry Frees performed the restoration, with the V8 Speed & Resto Shop handling sheetmetal work, bodywork and paint. It is powered by the original 235 staight 6 cylinder engine, but Larry added a few speed parts. Jack Irwin lettered the car and truck back in ’68, he did the new seat for the truck this year as well. There are many who helped Larry bring these vehicles back to what Van had envisioned. Once completed, Mr. Chevy was loaded on to the back of the hauler for the first time in 38 years in June, 2014.
You can read more about this amazing survivor vintage Gasser and hauler at www.MrChevyNut.com and watch a video on the car at www.V8TVshow.com. Look for a book on Mr. Chevy soon!