We’ve featured a few Californian shops on the site so far, so to re-dress the balance, here’s our first UK shop tour, we’ll be adding more from both sides of the Atlantic as we go, so keep checking back. It’s early March here in the UK as I write this and spring is definitely in the air, so today was a good day to jump in the old F1 truck and take a cruise down to the Hampshire village of Church Crookham, and go visit Tim Bowman’s Gasser Cave.
Let’s establish a few things first, Tim’s place isn’t really a Cave, it’s a big shed like most workshop’s, but it does makes for a good name, and secondly, Tim’s customer’s do not have surnames, or rather they do, but they’re never used, not written down anywhere, or even remembered. So cars that are in for work either belong to Steve, or Dave, or Gary, though sometimes Tim will prefix this with ‘my mate’, if he knows them well…..The other thing is that every inch is packed with projects, good for Tim, bad for photographers, plus it’s as dark as a , Er, cave in there. Good job we packed our flash. We rocked up unannounced, but we did take a bag of donuts, so before anything, Tim put the kettle on for a mug of tea.
As you might guess, Tim likes Gasser’s, and he’s built and worked on quite a few, mostly Tri-Chevy’s, a passion he shares with his son Beau. In UK Hot Rod circles, Tim is best known for the cool ’55 Altered wheelbase car that he built a few years back. Constructed from a bare shell, it was built more to publicize the business rather than be an out and out race car. We saw it running the flag start drags at the Hot Rod Hayride drags a few years back and it looked and sounded awesome!
Tim still owns it and it was in the shop, but the engine has been donated to another project and their are now plans to bring it out again any time soon, besides Tim has plenty of other projects to keep him busy.
The most recent is another Tri-Chevy, a ’56 that Tim has built from a straight and solid California body that just needed floors and chassis work to turn into another cool gasser. This time Tim wanted something that was authentic, yet that he could use on the street. With scarcely more than a pair of Mustang bucket seats and a four speed shifter inside, the ’56 is now on the road running a fully detailed 350 and a Muncie, though that is due to be replaced soon by a more period perfect (but less ‘blingy’) 327.
As you can see in the pic, the ’56 doesn’t run a sky-high stance, meaning that it is less of a handful for street driving, it’s common misconception that gassers were all running a King Kong stance back in the day, especially on the street. The brief trend for cars to be jacked all the way around was a Seventies street machine thing, and these cars were built just to be wild, hence they were known as ‘High Riders’ or Street Freaks.
The Gasser Cave does lots more than just build gassers though, Tim has been working on American cars most of his life, including a spell working on a US Military base, giving him added knowledge on four wheel drives and trucks in general. So it’s no surprise that there are always trucks in for work at the Cave. A ’57 stepside belonging to ‘Dave’ had just recieved full Camaro running gear, including front clip, V8, and airbags.
Outside, a GMC COE cab unit was being offered up to the chassis of a deceased Winnebago, its only in the early stages of build, we’ll check back on it at a later date, and an early Ford F1, similar to our own was being torn down ready for a front and rear clip swap plus full resto. At the moment though, its a handy place to leave your tea mug……
Thanks to Tim for letting us take a poke around and for the tea and thanks to me for the jammy doughnuts……..