After attending a drag racing event in 2015 at Byron Dragway in Chicago, IL, Wendell Whynot and Mike Herman decided to transform two cars that were sitting in the lot at Wendell’s shop. One was a ’55 Chev two door post, and the other an original ’64 327 Nova SS. Wendell had not yet decided what to do with the two cars, but after seeing 500+ authentic gassers and front engine dragsters at Byron, he and Mike knew that they needed to build a nostalgic gasser for each of them.
Wendell started building the ’55 first. After 30 years in a barn in Bridgewater the car emerged in excellent shape, body wise. Wendell started by removing the original frame to the firewall, and then building a new frame. To the new frame he added a straight axle and springs from Speedway Motors. Brakes are Wilwood disks. In the rear, Wendell added a Ford 9” with 4:11 gears, modified leaf springs, and drum brakes.
Power for Wendell’s gasser comes from a 454 CID Chevy Big Block topped with a tunnel ram and two 500 CFM Holley Carbs. Adding to the nostalgic look of his gasser are a pair of fender well headers that feed into 3” exhaust. The scoop covering the tops of the carbs is a very special piece. Wendell had his grandsons, Angus and Maxx finger paint the scoop. Once they were done, the scoop was cleared and serves as the icing on top of the proverbial big block cake.
The only modification to the body was to radius the rear fender wells. He contemplated adding a fibreglass flip front end, common in some gassers, but the original body panels were so straight he thought it would be a shame not to use them. Wendell’s car started out all white, with the original plan to add graphics as a tribute to his brother and a friend, Calvin Whynot and Borden Hanley, who had recently passed. Calvin Whynot had a body shop and Borden Hanley was a local mechanic. Four days before the annual Liverpool Memorial car show, held for Calvin and Borden, Wendell asked the 10 or so guys that were hanging around his shop to grab some masking tape and start taping the blank canvas for some graphics. Along with some help from the “Paint Fairy” they had the graphics laid out and painted in two days. Friday night the car was back in Wendell’s shop and the same group of guys was there to clean, polish and reattach all the chrome; the ’55 Gasser made its debut at the car show on Saturday.
Wendell’s ’55 was without an interior when he bought the car. For the nostalgic gasser look he stripped what was there, put three gauges in the centre of the dash, along with a dash top tach, installed two bucket seats, aluminum door panels, and a Moon steering wheel. He would have installed a roll bar a few years back, but learned that insurance companies were no longer insuring street cars that had racing components such as roll bars.
When they built Mike’s Chevy II gasser they removed the original front frame, again to the fire wall, and rebuilt it with a complete Chevy II/Nova kit from Speedway Motors. The kit comes complete with frame, springs, spindles and brakes. The rear end in the Chevy II is a 10-bolt posi-traction axle with 3:42 gears. The motor in Mike’s gasser is the original 327 warmed up with a Weiand tunnel ram and two Edelbrock carbs. The motor also has a set of aluminum heads and the requisite fender well headers feeding into a 3” exhaust.
The body on the Chevy II was just as straight as the ’55, so the only modification was to radius the rear fender openings. Mike didn’t know what the paint scheme was going to be until after Wendell completed the base graphics. Once again there was a significant amount of taping and a visit from the “Lace Fairy.” Once the base graphics were complete, Mike had Kermit and Clifford Keddy (CK Signs), two well known pinstripe artists in the Maritimes, come apply the hand painted graphics. These included all the pin-striping, 327C.I., and Mouse House and mouse. Originally “Mouse House” was painted gold, but Clifford came back in the winter of 2019 and applied gold leaf to the lettering to add an extra nostalgic pop to the car’s graphics.
The interior in Mikes Nova is original, except for a roll bar, under dash gauges, and a cable driven tach bolted to a plate where the ashtray would have been. Both Wendell and Mike have a long history of drag racing in the Maritimes, and Mike still races an altered T-bucket drag car that he and Wendell painted. However, as true to the theme of nostalgia gassers the two cars appear to be, these builds are meant more for the street/show scene, than the drag scene.