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GARY KESSLER'S ROADSTER

#1
1970: Gary Kessler Roadster
Using components and ideas seen only on Fuel cars, Kessler’s roadster was a street-driven Funny Car that happened to look like a Deuce, with its exaggerated wheels, tires, and stance, combined with a stock-appearing roadster body. It’s actually a simple formula for a timeless highboy roadster, not unlike Edelbrock’s 30 years earlier.
From Hot Rod
GARY KESSLER'S ROADSTER.jpg
Gary Kessler's.jpg
 
#2
Gary Kessler's yellow highboy roadster debuted at the second NSRA Street Rod Nationals in 1971, where it was an instant hit with the crowd.

The body was unmodified except for a filled cowl vent, filled door handles, and three inches out of the windshield. Like all of the cars described on this page, it had a unique and classic look that's not easy to put into words.

One of the first Chevy LT-1 350 crate engines available was fed by a 750-cfm Holley on an early Edelbrock Tarantula manifold, and conducted by Ed Iskenderian. A flat firewall and a set of homebuilt headers finished off the swap. A Muncie four-speed and a beefy '57-'64 Olds rear end helped haul Gary to quarter-mile times in the elevens.

More than anything, it was the wheels and tires that made the car what it was. When a Funny Car racer brought them into a local speed shop to sell, Gary bought them for his highboy. The almost-neutral offset on the five-inch-bolt-pattern back wheels allowed the Olds rear end to fit just fine without having to be narrowed. A pair of fully-polished American Racing 15 by 4-inch magnesium five-spokes with a pair of skinny radials led the way, while overkill traction was provided by a pair of Top Fuel-sized 13.00-16 M&H Racemaster wrinkle-wall slicks spun by the 16 by 13-inch magnesium American Racing five-spokes. This combination of extreme big and littles easily set Kessler's creation apart from the masses of annoyingly-polite, adhesion-challenged pretenders to true wickedness.
More than any other hot rod in history, it was Gary Kessler's roadster that provided the inspiration behind the artwork on this site's cover page when I was telling Bill Drake all the details of how I wanted his illustration to look back in 1996. The lower-than-most windshield, the unfilled grille shell with the original trim left where it belongs, the dropped-and-drilled I-beam front axle, the finned aluminum Buick brake drums, the skinny front tires and monster slicks were all specified thanks to the lasting impression this car left behind from when I first saw it in a color, two-page spread in Petersen's Street Rod Pictorial back in 1971.

When it appeared in the August, 2001 issue of Rod and Custom, the classic highboy was finally given its first feature, written by Thom Taylor.

Back in 1973, Gary sold the car to fellow Missouri rodder Don Ward, who has kept it unchanged except for selling the wheels and tires to a local rodder (who also sold me the pair of 16 by 13 Halibrand magnesium wheels I'm using on the back of my roadster).

Gary is currently gathering the parts to build a clone of his car, which many of us consider to be one of the all-time great Deuce roadsters.
From Roadsters.com
Gary Kessler's (8) .JPG
 
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