Lindsey Fisher February 08, 2024 Buyer’s Guides
Words by Lindsey fisher
Photos by Mach1Media
When it comes to custom classic trucks, there are a number of different subcategories from factory-condition restorations, to more radical restomod and Pro Touring builds. One subcategory that doesn’t get nearly the attention and fandom we think it should lays somewhere in between. We’re talking about the gasser hot-rod style, and this beautiful 1957 F-100, owned by Francis Bolduc III, is everything right about the classic subculture.
The gasser era got its start in the mid-to-late 1950s, and gained popularity through the 1960s on drag strips nationwide. In some places, the style even extended into the early 1970s, before it became less popular as advancements and technology changed the drag racing industry. The look and stance of these gasoline-only drag cars are truly what makes them stand out in a crowd even today, which has maintained their iconic status as a true subcategory within the hot-rod world.
While hot rod culture has seen its ebbs and flows over the last few decades in regards to the popular way of building a classic vehicle, gassers have continued to be part its story through representation at car shows, cruises, and even nostalgic drag racing series across the country. More times than not, if you come across a gasser, it’s probably in the form of a Chevy Tri-Five model or a Ford Shoebox—not a late ‘50s pickup. But what fun is being part of the conventional crowd, anyway? Enter a truck named “Bombs Away” to shake things up!
Built as part of an ever-growing collection of impressive classic pickup trucks, Bombs Away is Francis’ nod to the gasser subculture. In true form, this meant the truck had to be a little rough around the edges, have some serious power, and of course, have that iconic stance dialed in right from the start.
When it comes to building a gasser, perfecting the recognizable stance is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle. For his F-100, Francis achieved this look by re-arching the truck’s front springs while leaving the rear springs stock. This helped put a 6-inch suspension lift up front built off of the truck’s factory frame. Other components Francis used to create a fun and functioning gasser out of his truck include a Borgeson 525 steering box, heavy-duty wall steering components, an added steering stabilizer, and chromoly heim joints.
Raise the front suspension of any classic vehicle and you’re one step closer to having a gasser, but there’s a little more to it. To be a true gasser, there is a certain styling one has to achieve. Francis created his version by removing the front bumper, hood, and tailgate in true weight-saving form. From there, he painted the truck in brown primer with a prominent white grille and headlight surround. Hand-painted graphics by John Foster add even more flair to the truck, giving a nod to classic war-time propaganda while introducing the truck by name in bold red letters. Of course, we can’t forget about the gasser’s red window tint, which leads the eye nicely to the fully custom interior.
While the outside of the truck may seem simplistic, the interior of the truck provides plenty of eye candy—even for the most discerning. Everything from the aluminum split-bench seat to the door plates and headliner are custom, hand-tooled pieces of art that feature diamond pleating, dimpled holes, and rivet details throughout. Even the rear window surround is handcrafted.
The entire truck may be beautiful, but the interior is by far the most unique part of the truck and could stand alone at any hot-rod show in itself. There is no radio, plush interior, or unnecessary gadgets to distract Francis from the open road and the Hurst shifter in his hand, but his truck only needed one more thing to give it that true gasser status—a bigger engine, of course!
While eliminating the hood may have been a stylistic and weight-eliminating choice back in the gasser era, it also made more room for bigger engines and intake stacks, which makes for heavier competition on the drag strip. For Francis, this made easier work of fitting his Ford with a Chevy 350ci V-8 crate engine—a special nod to all those purists out there. The engine was then topped with eight stacks of a Don Garlits Street Induction intake, as well as an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and a Holley Performance Avenger carburetor. Schoenfeld headers led into a Cherry Bomb exhaust, which exits the truck at the rear of the front fender wells, which is an another characteristic of the era.
The crate engine’s power is pushed to the truck’s rear axle by way of a turbo 350 automatic transmission featuring a B&M shift kit, heavy-duty red bell clutch, and an Allstar torque converter equipped with a 2200 stall. Axles on the truck include a Speedway gasser unit in the front, and a Ford 9-inch in the rear, which features a locker and 3.00 gears. Planting the truck to the pavement are Kumho shoes wrapped around 15-inch, 10-spoke Rocket Racing wheels. Braking responsibilities are handled by a combination of front discs and rear drums.
Truly a one-of-a-kind Ford F-100, Bombs Away pays homage to the famed gasser era in both form and function, while maintaining its relevance and driveability on the streets of today. That doesn’t mean there won’t be upgrades added to the truck in the future. As Francis told us,“[it] needs a blower!”
Francis Bolduc III
Chassis & Suspension
Wheels & Tires
Engine & Drivetrain
Body & Paint
Interior & Stereo