Ford Mustang Mr. Gasket Gasser
Following the first officially sanctioned drag racing event held in 1949 at Goleta, California, where the blown Ford Model A Roadster of Tom Cobbs was defeated by Fran Hernandez’s Edelbrock-sponsored, fuel-burning 1932 Ford Coupe, the rules of drag racing were relatively simple. As the sport quickly developed, a loose class structure evolved during the early 1950s, in addition to the burgeoning dragster ranks, which often featured dual-purpose lakesters.
“Gassers” emerged from the NHRA Gas Coupe and Sedan rules of the late 1950s, which mandated standard wheelbases, limited engine setback, gasoline fuel and very few other restrictions. Two groups of “Gasser” classes emerged, with A through K/Gas for cars with naturally aspirated engines, while the top AA/GS through CC/GS classes were reserved for the quickest and lightest supercharged cars.
The “Gasser” classes were initially the home of dual-purpose cars that were required to retain street equipment including working lights, wipers, starters, generators and all other street-legal equipment. Cooling fans and belts were optional, radiators were required and the cars were also required to be properly licensed for street use, including full exhaust systems and mufflers, which could be disconnected or bypassed for racing. A “factory type” interior was required, but rear seats were optional and lightweight bucket seats were allowed, if two were used and they were fully upholstered. Limited body modifications were permitted as well and in general, the original full fenders and a rear bumper were mandatory, along with four-wheel brakes.
As the forerunners of Funny Cars and Pro Stockers, the “Gassers” carried some resemblance to street cars, providing brand identity heightened by many famous on-track rivalries among the various racing teams. As these cars became more specialized with the lifting of requirements for street legality during the 1960s, they continued to draw record crowds with their blistering performance and thrilling, wheels-up launches accompanied by incredible amounts of noise and billowing tire smoke. Parts manufacturers provided sponsorship and support to many Gasser teams, giving rise to the infamous “cam wars”.
A number of Gasser teams rose to national prominence during the 1960s, including those of “Big John” Mazmanian, K.S. Pittman, Stone, Woods & Cook, but none were as consistently successful as “Ohio George” Montgomery. Beginning with a blown 1934 Ford Three-Window Coupe powered by a supercharged Cadillac V8, Montgomery progressed to his famous 1933 Willys coupe, which he has since trademarked as the “World’s Wildest Willys”. Between 1959 and 1967, the Willys ran with a succession of supercharged Cadillac and Chevrolet engines, culminating in an exotic, supercharged 427 cubic inch, single overhead camshaft (SOHC) Ford V8. In his Willys, Montgomery set nine NHRA national records, with eight class wins and three Eliminator wins at the prestigious U.S. Nationals.
As Montgomery’s success continued, his relationship with Ford Motor Company grew, leading to the retirement of the Willys in mid-1967 in favor of a new Mustang-bodied car at Ford’s insistence, to maintain brand consistency. The new car, known as the Malco Gasser, debuted at the 1967 NHRA Springnationals in Bristol, Tennessee, again powered by a supercharged “Cammer”. The car completely revolutionized its class with its current-model body and outstanding performance. Montgomery also found the aerodynamic Mustang body provided much safer handling than his old Willys. This was an important consideration, given the low eight-second elapsed times of the new car, which was capable of speeds in excess of 180 mph.
For the 1969 season, Ford provided a brand new, hand-built "one-off" fiberglass Mustang body, which Montgomery mounted on a 1933 Willys-based chassis to comply with class rules. The resulting “Mr. Gasket Gasser” successfully debuted in August 1969 at the U.S. Nationals, initially powered by a SOHC 427 engine with a 6-71 supercharger, producing 1,200 horsepower on pump-grade gasoline. Montgomery emerged victorious, taking the Super Eliminator win at this high-profile event. In October 1970, Montgomery switched to a supercharged Boss 429 engine. Soon, the comparatively inefficient, crank-driven GMC-type supercharger was replaced by a radical twin-turbocharger system, which generated 1,800 horsepower, again on pump gasoline!
The Mr. Gasket Gasser remained in this form until October 1975 and with “Ohio George” behind the wheel, the Mustang achieved back-to-back Super Eliminator wins at the NHRA Gatornationals in Florida, in addition to setting six NHRA-certified class records and being awarded two Best Engineered Car awards during its competitive career. Unlike the vast majority of period drag racing machines, however, the Mr. Gasket Gasser was not cannibalized for spare parts or allowed to deteriorate behind Montgomery’s racing shop when it was retired from active competition. Instead, Montgomery carefully stored and maintained his trusty racer along with its other stablemates offered here. It remains today as it was raced.
From its impressively preserved fiberglass bodywork to its sparkling Candy Red metalflake paint finish, the Mr. Gasket Gasser appears as stunning as it did on its 1969 racing debut. The interior retains its original red-anodized tinwork throughout as well as attractive bucket seats with distinctive two-tone metalflake vinyl upholstery. The dash is all business with just the essential gauges, and driver controls include a three-spoke steering wheel and a Hurst Dual/Gate floor shifter. The twin-turbocharged Boss 429 engine features impressively polished plumbing and fittings, while the painted frame and chrome-plated suspension remain beautifully detailed throughout.
The legendary “Mr. Gasket Gasser” Mustang is virtually flawless today and was purchased in 2006 directly from the legendary “Ohio George” Montgomery himself. In addition to many appearances on sponsor handouts and magazine features, the “Mr. Gasket Gasser” was also immortalized recently with the release of a limited run of 2,500 highly detailed 1:18-scale models by GMP. A proven winner in every respect and with unquestioned provenance, this car presents a rare opportunity for drag racing enthusiasts, which is unlikely to be repeated.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Est. 1,800 hp, 429 cu. in. Ford Boss 429 V8 engine with twin turbochargers, Ford C-6 three-speed automatic transmission, solid tubular front axle with coil-over shock absorbers, 9-inch Ford rear end with coil-over shock absorbers and lateral stabilizer, and two-wheel hydraulic drum brakes at the rear with a single rear-mounted braking parachute. Wheelbase: 110"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel