WE LAST caught up with Steve Brown back in SM Hot Rod #13, when we interviewed the Adelaide-based artist about his work, which is heavily influenced by his time hanging around speedway, drag racing and the hot car scene in Tea Tree Gully where he grew up. Since we last spoke, he’s kept himself busy and kept us in the loop with what he’s been doing. We spotted his wild FJ gasser on social media and got in touch to see if he could come up with some more 60s- and 70s-style gassers that were a little bit out of left field – just how Steve likes it. Check out his thoughts on what the artwork could be if brought to life.
This article was first published in Street Machine's Hot Rod magazine #20, 2019
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“INSPIRED by the flip-front scene in the 70s, this could be used as the basis for a crowd-stopping 60s-styled gasser. Here the original front panels are bolted together and front-hinged with cable-operated catches on each side of the cowl, with two pull handles mounted under the dash.
“I see a traditional red motor/four-speed set-up with gold-plated triple Webers – little or no setback. Tie the floor together with CRS under-floor rails. The body has a six-inch extension on the doors and a traditional top chop with finesse thanks to shaved gutters and rounded corners. This may even be beneficial on a race car if done well by a good body worker. Link-style rear end could be set for variable positioning, and wheelie bars bring the look closer to the 70s here.
“Lettering is rudimentary, leaving plenty of scope for further imagination. Paint is a real layerfest of candies over metallics using House Of Kolor and a ton of masking tape. A boot full of louvres and a stock-style tail-light, but it could just as easily be a ’59 Cadillac light. Dragway wheels or a set of Halibrands, if you had the bucks, to finish it off.
“In ’71-’72 there was a little period where people went with having a complementary colour scheme; underneath the car would be, say, lime green and the top would be purple or red, and I kind of went with that. The way the car is illustrated, it would be a big-dollar thing.”
“THIS is a chassis plan for the FJ gasser – a bit rudimentary I guess, and it probably wouldn’t pass engineering with that wonky X-member in the middle. What I really wanted to stress was putting a strong frame under the straight-axle front end. I’m thinking of ’32 Ford rails or similar from the horns back to under the firewall and then tie it in with a three-quarter chassis. It may seem to be overkill if running a red motor, but may provide a strong platform capable of running a C/Gas-style V8.”
MORRIS MINOR ALTERED
“MORE altered than gasser, this could be dragged back to gasser with a modified and extended stock-style front clip. Use a 5/8-inch tube subframe with Dzus fasteners. As it is, the body is heavily modified, while retaining stock-appearing door openings and cowl. Small cowl panels with louvres cover the door hinges and a Topolino-style bonnet has a peaked hood scoop and a reveal aping the Morris Minor grille shape.
The Topolino-style bonnet has a peaked hood scoop and a reveal aping the Morris Minor grille shape
“Here we have a 394 Olds Rocket mill; you’d choose a strong transmission and an Oldsmobile rear, but that could be open to interpretation. With a nice strong chassis underneath it, you could go any way with that – Cadillac, Ardun, whatever. A dropped and drilled I-beam, 10-spoke spindle mounts and Halibrands for rolling stock.
“Paint has gold pearl over a straight yellow base toned off with a bit of green and candy side coves in a deep red. Come up with your own name based on the Minor theme – I’ve come up with a musical play on words.”
“HERE we are shooting for a 60s ethos of low-dollar drag fun. Keep it strictly traditional by cherrying out a van body, box an original frame and set some altitude adjustment into the front crossmember, or keep it strictly stock with stock wheels. “The sign says there’s a 179ci under the hood, but you could go ‘swinging 60s’ and use a Falcon, Zephyr or slant-six. How about an Austin six, a la Austin Healey? They’re quite heavy, but they’re kind of cool. Your imagination is the limit.
“Ramchargers-inspired stripes and lettering can give some punch to a basic paintjob. Primer is not a crime; you could have a cool look for next to nothing. It could even be primer grey with pressure-pack red – why the hell not? Put the red over a white base or mask out the white base over whatever paintjob is there.”
VAUXHALL VIVA GASSER
“THE strong resemblance to the Caruana/Pirotta ‘Satisfaction’ Cortina gasser is no coincidence. I saw it run in Adelaide in 1982 on a really cold winter day; it was about 15 degrees max and the air was crisp and severe, and there were grey skies too. They came out late-morning in this biting air and you should have heard that sound – it was one of the best-sounding engines I ever heard. For a non-nitro car, man, it was screaming like a banshee. Beautiful. I loved those cammers after seeing that.
“Like ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Viva Las Gasser’ has a pretty severe chop, at least five-and-a-half to six inches. I see the floor being lost from this one and a nice full chassis being fabbed. Set the engine back so the injection kisses the windscreen, nice period Dragway five-spokes up front, and out the back, more Dragways or Halibrands.
“Paint goes with a nice fade in signal colours with a pearl overlay on the belt line. Use nicely restored stock stainless trim and win hearts every time you pull it to the line!
“A big-block would be great, but man, that would be a handful. There used to be a couple of Viva gassers here in Adelaide and I never saw one run straight. They were always all over the place – and that was with small-blocks!”