Originally raced at Lions Drag Strip and Orange County until the late 1970s, it was sold to California-based racer Bob Knudsen. The Bel Air became a regular at Famoso Raceway until 1981. The gasser changed owners several times since then and spent its recent years in Panora, Iowa. While it was retired from racing, "Panama Red" attended random car shows.
Come 2022, and the drag-read Bel Air is for sale. It comes with rust-free and original body panels, clean chrome trim and glass, and a period-correct interior with bucket seats and a roll cage.
"Panama Red" draws juice from a 355-cubic-inch (5.8-liter) Chevy small-block V8 with a 10:1 compression ratio and race-spec components of the Edelbrock, Holley, and Mallory variety. The mill mates to a Borg-Warner T-10 gearbox and McLeod Racing flywheel and clutch.
The rear end is an early Pontiac unit with a 5:86 ratio and still packs the original leaf springs and ladder bars. Up front, it has a straight axle and disc brakes, both of which were added sometime in the 1980s. The seller says the car "starts, drives, stops and idles just fine" and that "she'll put you back in the seat and turn you sideways" when you hit the gas.
The gasser also comes with a ton of documentation, including a title from 1961, time slips from Famoso Raceway, photos from the late 1970s, and a single driver seat claimed to be the original unit it was raced with.
"Panama Red" is being auctioned off as we speak by eBay seller "jersteph07." Bidding has reached $20,100 with more than four days to go, but the listing still has a "reserve not met" status. How much do you think this historic gasser is worth? Let me know in the comments.