Bring a dated and dirty en­gine bay back from the brink of dis­as­ter in a week­end

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT: Jim Smart | PHO­TOS: Steven Rupp & Jim Smart

Bring a dated and dirty en­gine bay back from the brink of dis­as­ter in a week­end

The Chevy Nova and Ca­maro have a lot in com­mon. Well, sort of. The Chevy II/Nova started out as a hum­ble, eco­nom­i­cal com­pact plat­form in 1962. It was a sim­ple, af­ford­able ride you could do a lot with and for not much money. By 1968, the Chevy II/Nova was more so­phis­ti­cated with a new plat­form and a groovy bolt-on sub­frame shared with the all-new Ca­maro pony­car.

It is true that the Nova shares a lot of sheet­metal with the Ca­maro, though not al­ways im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. What the Nova and the Ca­maro don’t have in com­mon is num­bers. There are more sur­viv­ing Ca­maros than there are No­vas to­day. This makes the Nova de­sir­able as a dream project be­cause not every­one has one. When they roll into a show or cruise they catch the eye. We like the wavy, slip­pery lines of the 1968-’74 Nova, and be­ing they aren’t as pricy as a Ca­maro they are out there wait­ing for the savvy buyer.

Joel Rode of Hot Rod Spe­cial­ties in Up­land, Cal­i­for­nia, picked up this ’69 Nova for a song, hauled it home, and went right to work on it. Be­cause he bought it for chump change he had more room in his build bud­get than he would have if he bought a com­pa­ra­ble ’69 Ca­maro.

Be­cause the car spent most of its years near the ocean there were rust is­sues, which Joel took care of in his shop. With most of the body­work han­dled, Joel de­cided it was time to do some­thing about the ugly en­gine bay. The car was orig­i­nally a six-cylin­der Nova, as most of them were, but at some point had a small-block swap. A closer ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed a 350 with dou­ble-hump heads and af­ter­mar­ket in­take and a Hol­ley carb.

Joel has re­moved the Nova’s front end sheet­metal for eas­ier ac­cess and to show us what’s pos­si­ble even on a tight bud­get.

Let’s get started. CHP

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