Local record-holding drag race car to be sold at auction

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Bill Johnston's 1955 Chevy Bel Air nostalgia drag car is an NHRA record-holder and will be sold Saturday at Gateway Gallery Auction. PROVIDED PHOTO

CHAMBERSBURG— Bill Johnston loved all things automotive—especially the 1950s era—and enjoyed sharing his passion with others.

In his early life, the Fayetteville man was the owner and operator of the Sunoco Gas station on Radio Hill in Chambersburg and later worked as a mechanic at Eastland Motors. He was also employed at Mack truck for a time before a stint at Letterkenny Army Depot and later Ft. Detrick, prior to his 2013 retirement.

Bill collected and restored all kinds of petroliana memorabilia including signs, posters, racing suits, gas pumps and even a mannequin in a Texaco uniform.

He even turned his two-bay garage into a 1950s museum that he would share with any interested neighbor or salesman with time to spare.

But his pride and joy was his 1955 Chevy Bel Air nostalgia drag race car—a record-holder for its class in the National Hot Rod Association.

When he bought the car from Forrester’s, the engine was in the trunk.

Bill and his wife, Peggy, raced the car at Mason Dixon Dragway and York Dragway. She drove in powder puff derbies—and usually won.

A member of the Chambersburg Motor Knights Club, Bill raced until 1980. He passed away in January at the age of 84 and his ’55 Bel Air along with his automotive collectibles will be sold Saturday, Sept. 24, at Gateway Gallery Auction, 643 Kriner Road, Chambersburg.

Also included in the auction is a 1996 BMW convertible 328i; a 1929 Model A Ford standard, four door sedan; a 1966 Ford Mustang w/new interior by Secrest; and nearly two dozen vintage Kawasaki and Yamaha motorcycles.

“This is the perfect sale for automobile enthusiasts to find something unique,” said Heather Kohler, auctioneer. “There’s such a wide variety of parts, accessories, vintage items and petroliana, not to mention the vintage vehicles and motorcycles, all well cared for.”

Auction begins Saturday, Sept. 24, at 9 a.m. with parts, tools and collectibles. The Bel Air will be sold at noon, followed by additional vehicles and motorcycles.

An open house preview will be held Friday, Sept. 23, from 3-5 p.m. at Gateway Gallery.