55 Chevy Gasser - Jay Rust / Chesterland, OH
How about an old-school simple big-block Chevy for this month's Horsepower! spread? No fancy induction systems or overhead cams, just cubic inches and a big Roots blower inhaling through a pair of Holleys. This is the engine in Jay Rust's 55 Chevy. We caught up with him at the Nostalgia Gasser race at Thompson Drag Raceway in Thompson, Ohio (near Cleveland). Though the racers consist of mostly straight-axle gasser cars, there is a Hot Rod class for cars like Jay's. He's owned his 55 Chevy for 14 years, and it will make low 9-second passes at trap speeds of about 144 mph. Let's see how he gets it done.
The 55 Chevy
Jay's 55 Chevy gasser is an especially clean race car, and we were drawn to its awesome stance and stellar black finish. Jay told us his wife bought the car for him as a surprise for his 40th birthday. Lucky guy! It was already a street/strip car and had its current 454. Jay got more serious, adding a full rollcage that's certified to 8.50s, replacing the hood, fenders, and doors with fiberglass panels, and fitting the Monster rear tires. It mostly runs at the track, but we suspect he drives it on the street from time to time. We're surprised we can't hear it from our offices in Los Angeles.
Because you can never have too much power, Jay's 55 Chevy has a Nitrous Express 200 shot kit wired up and ready to go.
Who are we kidding, here? The big draw is the blower poking up above the fenders. This is a B&M 420 Mega Blower. The drive is set to churn out 12 psi of boost, and Jay fills the fuel cell of his 55 Chevy Gasser with 110-octane gasoline, which is fed to a pair of Holley 830-cfm carburetors by a Holley fuel pump.
The headers in Jay's 55 Chevy were custom-made by Hutter Performance in Chardon, Ohio. Hutter also did some of the interior panels and wheeltubs.
This is a production 454 block that has been bored 0.030-inch over, so with a stock stroke of 4.00-inch, final displacement is actually 461 cubic inches. It's got a forged rotating assembly and dished pistons to accommodate boost from that big supercharger. The compression ratio is a conservative 8.0:1. The camshaft is from Comp, but Jay couldn't recall the specs. He did know it's a hydraulic roller design, and forged aluminum roller rocker arms inside Dart Pro 1 cylinder heads complement the roller lifters. The engine was machined and assembled at Jeff Gardner Race Engines in Claridon, Ohio.
Hidden below the subercharger belt is a Meziere electric water pump, which keeps a constant flow of coolant through the engine regardless of rpm. An aluminum four-core radiator keeps the water temperature in check.