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"Nemesis" 1955 Chevy Gasser

12/23/2020
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Scott Elston's '55 looks like it just rolled out of the mid-60's.

Those of us who were (or still are) car crazy kids remember the Monogram “Badman” ’55 Chevy gasser model kit. The Tom Daniel art on the box cover was an epic depiction of the gasser wars, showing the Badman leaving the line with its front tires in the air. And right there in the foreground we see just enough of its competitor to know that it’s another ’55, only this one is a distinctive orchid color.

Ever wondered what that other car on the Badman box might have looked like? Well, now you know.
Scott nailed the gasser stance.

Scott Elston built the Badman kit when he was 8 years old, and it made quite an impression. Not only did he fall in love with mean, nose-up ’55 Chevys, he also loved the box art. So, when grown-up Scott set out to build his own full-scale version, he started to wonder about the other car. What did the Badman’s rival look like? This car is his answer, and it’s called “Nemesis” because, as Scott puts it, “they’ve been racing each other on that model box for 50 years!”

Not only does the "Nemesis" name tell the story of the Badman's old sparring partner, it's also the perfect name for a 60's drag car.
More period-correct goodness under the hood. The cross-ram and fenderwell headers steal the show, but a closer look reveals a ton of neat details.

Scott’s Nemesis would give the Badman a run for its money. He built the ’67 327 up with 2.02 double-hump heads and a Comp 292H cam. The Mickey Thompson cross ram was the first part that Scott bought for the car (before he even had a car to put it on) and it’s topped by vintage Carter carburetors. A mag-look distributor from Joe Hunt lights it all up and Speedway Motors fenderwell headers handle the exhaust. Scott grabs gears with a Hurst shifter tied to a Muncie M21 4-speed.

This is our favorite angle. The Nemesis looks mean, nasty, and ready to launch those puny front tires into the air.

The perfect high and mighty stance is courtesy of a gasser axle kit from Speedway Motors, complete with the disc brake kit that bolts up the magnesium Americans that Scott picked up at an estate sale. A ’58 Ford 9” spins matching mags and M&H Racemasters. And those ladder bars? They’re taken right from the model kit, custom made to look like those on the Badman.

Throughout the car, Scott was committed to doing it right. No visible modern stuff to ruin the vibe. And no 60’s-style race car butchery on the fab and finish work. So, when it was time for paint, he needed the perfect color. Scott even emailed Tom Daniel to ask if he had a particular color in mind when he created the painting. Tom’s answer was not helpful, since he just mixed things together to get what he wanted, so Scott went to the 60’s GM swatch book and came up with a ’65-only color called Evening Orchid. In addition to the Nemesis lettering on the quarters and cool vintage decals around the car, Scott added “14th Street Garage” to the doors as a tribute to the backyard garage of his youth.

Far from a gutted drag car, the interior of this '55 is neatly finished and features Impala buckets and cool period details all over.

Inside, the ’55 sports ’65 Impala buckets, and they look right at home. In true 60’s drag car fashion, Scott removed the backseat, but the panel that replaced it is nicely finished in a pattern that matches the front seats and the door panels. The rollbar was built by sprint car fabricator (and Speedway Motors product engineer) Tom Brown. Many of us would be content to outfit our nostalgic gasser with a modern reproduction of a vintage tach. Not Scott. He had a vintage Sun Tach modified to work without the transmitter box. It sits proudly on top of the dash next to the very cool matching Sun oil pressure gauge.

Scott's view from the driver's seat is pleasantly interrupted by the vintage Sun tach and rare Sun oil pressure gauge.

Scott says that driving the Nemesis around town causes people to stop in their tracks. It’s loud, rough, and crude. In other words, it’s perfect. It’s just like going back in time to the days when 55’s prowled late-night boulevards looking for action and roared down dragstrips all over the country. Just like they did on the model box that Scott couldn’t forget.

What's next for the Nemesis? Well, Scott's got a 427 and a Jimmy supercharger sitting in the corner of the shop...

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