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1948 Ford rat rod Gasser buildup

Revell's new 1948 Ford Chopped Custom Coupe kit is one of those offerings that can support a variety of model-building themes — certainly well beyond the scope of the historically correct 1950s custom represented by the kit.

In several prior articles in Scale Auto, and at, I've shown a number of different building ideas for this kit, including a street rod; using the kit to hot rod Revell's stock-only 1948 Ford Woody; a custom convertible; and now, a Gasser. This is a project that is very "with it" in the 1:1 car world these days, and provides a pretty cool model to boot. Although I've used the Revell 1948 Ford body, there are many other bodies that would work, including the new Galaxie Limited 1948 Ford Coupe, when it hits the market.

Before we get started, I need to note that this Scale Auto Online Extra will be different than my normal articles. Let me explain why.

When I began to kitbash model cars in the mid-1960s, I noticed that model car magazine stories often tended to gloss over important steps in the conversion. I vowed that if I ever wrote model car stories, I would always try to include all the key steps. And with the support of Jim Haught and other editors I've worked with during the years, I have mostly been able to deliver on that long-ago promise.

But the reality is that all kitbash projects require many extra steps to get the model completed; steps that would require too much space to cover in their entirety in a magazine article. But with the flexibility afforded by this Online Extra format, I decided to record every step — big and small — in creating this chopped 1948 Ford Gasser.

Further, I've decided to cover each step sequentially, rather than grouping the steps under "Engine," "Chassis," and other headings as I often do in my Scale Auto magazine stories. Here, you will a complete, step-by-step, running recap of the actual building process.

So are you ready for the steps to take in building your 1/25 scale street Gasser model of this type? I thought so. Here goes...
1. Here is the car we'll be creating in 1/25 scale. It's a modern, rad-rod-style reinterpretation of a 1960s dragstrip Gasser. The base kit is Revell's 1948 Ford Chopped Custom Coupe, introduced in 2011.
So what does it take to be considered a Gasser?

When someone says "Gasser," there are really two types of cars it could be. The first would be a late-1950s or 1960s drag-racing car, built to the letter of the applicable NHRA rulebook. It would be a coupe or sedan, most likely of an early-1930s-to-late-1950s vintage (no convertibles, Corvettes, or Thunderbirds), though in the late-1960s Pony Cars (Mustangs, Barracudas) and even a few Opels became legal. In their most extreme forms, they were further characterized by the engine being set back from the stock position in the chassis the equivalent distance of 10 percent of the wheelbase from the stock dimension; lightening of the body and chassis throughout; and quite possibly a one-piece, tilting front hood and fender unit.

The ride heights were high — often the front being higher than the rear (though limited to no more than 24 inches from the ground to the centerline of the engine crankshaft) as a way of ensuring weight transfer to the rear slicks of the era. Slightly lowered ride heights evolved late in the decade. These cars were often finished in candy, pearl, or fogged paint, with gold-leaf lettering and a minimalist-but-impeccable finished interior treatment.

A more recent type of Gasser would be the streetable cars that you see at today's Rat Rod events or in the Autorama Extreme in the basement of Detroit's Cobo Arena. That is, a car that shares the high ride height, tinted Plexiglas windows, and overall proportions of the 1960s-era Gassers described above, but equipped for modern street duty.

These cars often wear a flat or primer paint job, with distinctive lettering and graphics that share nothing in common with their 1960s brethren. Engine setbacks, tilt front ends, and Moon fuel tanks alone (without the gas tank supplementing the supply) aren't in the cars for this category of street Gassers. Today's genre includes convertibles (illegal in the 1960s Gasser classes), plus Corvettes and T-Birds (which were classified as Modified Production instead of Gassers back in the day).

But keep the wheelbase stock - those with altered wheelbases are considered "A/FX" cars — an entirely different (if equally cool) genre of the dragster world!


Revell 1948 Ford Chopped Custom Coupe 3 in 1 #85-4253
(currently available): Body, hood, windshield, headlights and headlamp bezels, basic interior components, floor pan, etc.

AMT/Ertl 1953 Ford Pickup Street Machine #6341 (issued in 1991): Frame, rear suspension/axle/differential/ (also optional choice for front suspension assembly), exhaust headers. Note: this same frame and suspension are found in all issues of MPC's 1957 Chevy Gasser and 1953 Ford Pickup kits, which were each reissued several times, most recently as the Model King resissue of the MPC "Spirit if '57" Chevy circa 2006.

Revell K.S. Pittman 1941 Willys Drag Coupe #85-4990 (currently available): Front suspension assembly, rear ladder bars, roll bar, steering wheel and column, gas pedal, shifter, bucket seats (from two kits), exterior door handles, rear tube bumper and brackets, parachute. Note: Revell's prior John Mazmanian #85-2350 and Stone Woods & Cook #85-2032 (black car) 1941 Willys kits both have these same components; Revell's original Stone Woods and Cook "Swindler II" (blue car) kit dating from 1963 and its many reissues are based on an entirely different kit.

AMT/Ertl 1967 Mustang GT/GTA and 1967 Shelby GT500 kits (first issued in 1994-1995 and reissued multiple times since; I used #31550 issued in 2002): Basic engine and transmission assembly.

AMT/Ertl Surf Woody "Buyer's Choice" #31921 (issued in 2003; prior versions of this kit date from the mid-to-late 1960s and are expensive collectibles): Cross-ram intake manifold, carbs, valve covers, "Shelby" deep sump oil pan. Note: A similar cross-ram intake, carbs, and dual air cleaners can be found in Round 2's AMT 1966 Mustang kit #794-12 (currently available).

MPC 1969 Charger 500 #6284 (issued in 1987), MPC 1969 Daytona Charger #6278 (issued in 1990): Instrument panel. Note: the same parts are found in MPC's 1968-1970 Charger annual kits, which are expensive collectibles; however, the later MPC reissues referenced above sell at reasonable prices from the usual old kit sources.

Revell Tony Nancy "22 JR" Roadster and Dragster Double kit #85-1224 (currently available): Rear wheels and tires.

AMT/Ertl 1976 Chevy Caprice with Trailer #38454 (issued in 2006), #3001 (issued in 1999 and 2001): Front wheels. Note: the same wheels are found in MPC's 1968-1972 Corvette annual kits, and are likely available from aftermarket resin casters.

Mark Budniewski: Pontiac "drag car" scroop (originally a Ford HD truck item);

Slix Decals Rat Rod and Nose Art 1 #RRNA1-7136: All exterior decals except Mooneyes. Note: item is not currently available in the Slixx catalog as this is written.

Tamiya TS-29 Semi-Gloss Black; TS-79 Semi-Gloss Clear

Testor's Metalizer paints in five colors, Testor's DullCote

Parts Box:
Carburetor air intake horns, 1939 Ford teardrop taillight lenses, front tires.

REFERENCES (1960s Gassers)

Gasser Wars - Drag Racing's Street Classes, 1955-1968, Larry Davis, 2003, Car Tech Publishing

REFERENCES (1960s and current Gassers)

Street Rodder magazine, November 2012 - Gasser Theme Issue (Source Interlink Media)
Car Kultu
re Deluxe and Ol' Skool Rodz magazine - any issue (Koolhouse Publishing)
Traditional Rod and Kulture Illustrated magazines - any issue



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