Under Construction: 1972 Chevy Nova

About 10-12 years ago, my friend Jason had wanted a car that he could drive fast and frighten people with. After some car-hunting with his muscle car fanatic friends, he ended up with a non-running 1972 Chevy Nova. It’s engine was junk, but the body was all one color and it still had a little bit of shine to it. So he picked it up for a good price, and started wrenching. He built himself a reliable 350(ish) horsepower small block Chevy to put in it, a TH350 transmission, and a Posi rear end. He then drove the car like he hated it, making sure to leave two rubber stripes on the pavement at every opportunity.  Over time, priorities in life changed, and his once potent, transmission eating, hell-ride ended up in a derelict state for several years in his parents driveway.  Typical automotive tale right?

Fast forward a few years, and he bought a house of his own. The Nova was transported gingerly from the forgotten driveway to it’s new home in a heated garage with all the equipment to bring it back to life.  The bubbling vinyl roof was removed immediately so that we could view the holes that we knew were hiding underneath. We also knew that the quarter panels had been replaced by the previous owner, but we didn’t realize that the right side was doubled up. Yes, a new quarter panel welded right over the original, both of them rotted and packed full of body filler.  The trunk lid and floors were both rotted, the fiberglass cowl hood was cracked, the lower tail panel was not attached, and the front fenders were fixed poorly from a previous accident.

Here is the simplified to-do list:
1) Replace both doors
2) Replace both quarter panels
3) Replace trunk drop downs
4) Fix the hole in the trunk floor that was meant for a fuel cell.
5) Replace the roof skin
6) Replace both front fenders
7) Replace both outer rear wheel houses
8 ) Replace portions of the inner rear wheel houses
9) Make inner and outer rocker panels and install them
10) Fix the 10,000 holes in the firewall, and straight it out
11) Replace tail pan (the metal that holds the tail lights)
12) Replace the rear section of the trunk where the tail pan attaches
13) Replace trunk lid
14) Fix rot holes in rear deck lid area
15) Fix rotted front body mounts
16) Fix hacked floors that I hastily installed one night when I was young and stupid.
17) Clean the underbody
18 ) Replace front subframe
19) Make custom subframe connectors that look like part of the body
20) Fix the rotted SS hood, and use it because it is cool
21) Make custom gauge cluster or convince Jason to use the stock one with supplemental aftermarket gauges.
22) Slam it to the pavement
23) Make new brake lines that are the proper size.
24) Install the all aluminum 6.2L
25) Do a celebration burnout
26) Do another celebration burnout
27) Finally race it against my truck since we made a bet about 9 years ago that I could build a 4 cylinder truck faster than his Nova.

Most sane people would have junked the car long ago, but when you have a personal connection to a specific vehicle, you can’t just give up on it. You put in the work and bring it back to make it better than ever before, and that is precisely what we are doing. It will be straighter, lower, louder, faster, and better engineered. It will be done right, with no exceptions. It it will be powered by an all aluminum, fuel injected 6.2L Escalade engine (L92 I believe?), backed by a built TH400, dropped several inches to tuck the tires, and have a body-filler FREE body.  If things work out right, it may even have some forced induction, but that is still an unknown at this time.

Disclaimer:  Making this post allows me to be accountable for work getting done or not getting done on his car.  If you fail to see updates on a regular basis, please kick me, and we will pick up the pace.  Ideally we want it to move under its own power in 2010.

6 comments to Under Construction: 1972 Chevy Nova

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