Truck of the Month: The Quarter-Mile Cabover

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MONTREAL, Que. — The 1954 Chevy cabover was not originally built for speed. It was a work truck. This particular model even hauled grain during its working days in Arizona. But after finding its way into Canada, it was transformed into a tube-framed dragster.

That’s when the truck caught Bob Massey’s attention.

The owner of a Montreal-based flatbed towing service, and drag-racing enthusiast, believes it’s the only “big rig drag racer” of its kind.

Like many work trucks, it has been customized for a specific task. In this case, meeting a need for speed. Powered by a 486-cubic-inch, 600-hp GM big block engine, the 2,400-pound machine launches down a quarter-mile track in 9.6 seconds, reaching a top speed of 220 km/h. It runs an eighth mile in 6.1 seconds, reaching speeds of 209 km/h.

The one change Massey made involved installing a carburetor so the machine could run on racing fuel rather than alcohol.

“It goes down the track straight,” he adds, referring to how it handles. “You stick it in gear and you floor it.”

Admittedly, the cabover is a bit slower than the traditional dragster he drives, because it’s almost double the weight. But there’s a distinct advantage to having an engine behind him instead of up front.

“You’re not worrying about the motor blowing up,” he says.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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