1957 Chevrolet 210 “Mr. Gasket” Tribute Hides A Nasty Surprise Under The Hood
The Chevy Tri-Five, which was produced from 1955 to 1957 with yearly upgrades, is today regarded as a symbol of 1950s design. Additionally, the top-of-the-line Bel Air model is a sought-after collectable that may sell for six figures when equipped in Sport Coupe and Nomad specification. The Tri-Five, though, is so much more.
Like many automobiles from the 1950s, the Chevy full-size also found its way to the race track. Thousands of them were successfully drag-raced back in the day, with Bill Jenkins achieving spectacular wins in various classes. Later, in the 1960s, the Tri-Five became very popular with the gasser crowd.
The stylish full-size was also a common sight on NASCAR ovals. Granted, Chevrolet did not win the series until 1958, when the Tri-Five went out of production, but the 150s and 210s were the cars of choice for many famous drivers of the era. There’s also the iconic “Black Widow,” which dominated the 1957 Grand National Series season despite NASCAR’s quick ban on fuel injection.
Built in cooperation with The Southern Engineering Development Company (SEDCO), the “Black Widow,” essentially a stripped-down 150 utility sedan with a beefed-up V8, saw daylight in only six units and it’s among the most desirable and expensive Tri-Fives. But I’m not here to talk about the super-rare NASCAR machine. The 1957 two-door sedan you see here might not be as famous, but it’s a cool tribute to a “Mr. Gasket” dragster.
Not familiar with Mr. Gasket? Well, you should, because this name was quite big in the 1960s. Oh, and it’s not a person, but a performance parts company founded by Joseph F. Hrudka in 1965. Originally established to fund Hrudka’s drag-racing career, Mr. Gasket produced a new type of gasket designed to withstand high temperatures and thus make it suitable for racing. An instant hit, the gasket brought Hrudka a whopping $600,000 in 1967.
By 1969, Mr. Gasket’s sales jumped to $3 million and by 1971, Hrudka was worth a whopping $6 million from an initial $5 investment. Needless to say, Mr. Gasket products were highly popular in drag racing and the company’s logo appeared on many cars. Perhaps even more than Hurst did in its glory days.
But I digress. While not an authentic “Mr. Gasket” racer, this Tri-Five is solid proof that the 1957 Chevrolet is still a cool project car more than 60 years after it left the assembly line. Yes, it’s not a fancied-up Bel Air (despite wearing some extra trim) and it’s not even a pillarless Sport Coupe, but it looks the part on black rear steelies and in a simple, garage-style livery as they used in the 1960s.
And it’s not one of those “all show and no go” cars. This Tri-Five packs a nasty and loud V8 under the hood. Specifically, the original powerplant was ditched in favor of a custom 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) mill. It’s based on a small-block Chevy, but it’s loaded with aftermarket internals for extra oomph.
Unfortunately, there’s no info as to how much horsepower it sends to the rear wheels, but this Tri-Five sounds like it could cover the quarter-mile quicker than most muscle cars from the golden era. And needless to say, it’s a great way to revive a 210 Tri-Five rather than use it for parts or send it to the junkyard. Check it out in the video below and make sure you crank up the volume for loud small-block V8 goodness.
By the way, Mr. Gasket is still alive and kicking as of 2023. Now part of Holley Performance, it still manufactures gaskets and a long list of aftermarket parts ranging from hardware and fittings to engine and transmission components.