1968 Chevrolet Fred Gibb COPO Chevy II Nova With Dick Har­rell 427 Con­ver­sion

Muscle Car Review - - 1968 Super Stock Cars -

Bench-rac­ing ses­sions be­tween Fred Gibb, owner of Gibb Chevrolet, and racer Dick Har­rell con­vinced them that a 1968 Chevy II Nova with an L78 396/375hp en­gine and a Turbo 400 trans­mis­sion would be great for NHRA Su­per Stock com­pe­ti­tion. But Chevrolet did not of­fer that com­bi­na­tion for sale to the pub­lic. Gibb called his friend Vince Pig­gins at Chevrolet to help him get ap­proval for build­ing 50 of these L78/Turbo 400 Chevy II No­vas through the Cen­tral Of­fice Pro­duc­tion Or­der (COPO) sys­tem.

The cars were ap­proved, and by July 1968 had ar­rived at Gibb Chevrolet. All 50 of the COPO 9738 Chevy II No­vas came equipped with the L78 en­gine, heavy-duty ra­di­a­tor, TH400 trans­mis­sion, power drum brakes, bucket seat in­te­rior, floor shift with con­sole, and 4.10 Posi­trac­tion 12-bolt rear. Four colors were or­dered: Fathom Blue, Gre­cian Green, Mata­dor Red, and Tripoli Turquoise. In­te­rior colors were ei­ther blue or black.

Some of these COPO 9738 Chevy II No­vas were sent to Dick Har­rell Per­for­mance Cen­ter to re­ceive a 427 swap. The ac­tual num­ber of cars sent is un­cer­tain. Har­rell would typ­i­cally in­stall af­ter­mar­ket speed equip­ment, like an A&A fiber­glass Stinger hood, a Sun tach, and an af­ter­mar­ket in­take man­i­fold. The fea­tured Mata­dor Red ex­am­ple, owned by Rick Thayer, is one of those cars that re­ceived the Har­rell treat­ment.

Thayer called on Brian Hen­der­son and crew at Su­per Car Work­shop in La­trobe, Penn­syl­va­nia, to re­store his Gibb/Har­rell Chevy II Nova to per­fec­tion. Hen­der­son said that a big rea­son he was able to make the restora­tion as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble was Thayer’s abil­ity and tenac­ity in hunt­ing down hard-to-find, pe­riod-cor­rect, and date-cor­rect parts and com­po­nents. The end prod­uct is ab­so­lutely stun­ning.

n The 50 COPO 9738 Chevy II No­vas were or­dered by Fred Gibb in four colors. Brian Hen­der­son re­ports that 20 of them were Fathom Blue with a blue in­te­rior, 10 were Gre­cian Green with a black in­te­rior, 10 were Tripoli Turquoise with a black in­te­rior, and 10 were Mata­dor Red with black in­te­rior.

n Key­stone Race­way Park in New Alexan­dria, Penn­syl­va­nia, was kind enough to host the shoot of the three Su­per Stock cars.

The dragstrip hosts a num­ber of pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur events dur­ing the rac­ing sea­son. Key­stone Race­way Park is scenic and clean, a great place for fam­i­lyfriendly drag rac­ing.

n All of the COPO 9738 Gibb Chevy II No­vas came with ei­ther black or blue in­te­ri­ors with bucket seats and the floor shift/ con­sole com­bi­na­tion. Dick Har­rell added the Sun tachome­ter. An in­ter­est­ing 1968-only fea­ture is the ig­ni­tion key place­ment in the dash rather than on the steer­ing col­umn.

n The 427 en­gine is built from a cor­rect 1968 CE block with alu­minum heads, a Weiand du­alquad man­i­fold with Carter 4762S car­bu­re­tors, a Joe Hunt mag­neto, and N.O.S. Mickey Thompson Su­per Scav­enger head­ers that have been coated to a sparkling white color. Mickey Thompson 427 valve cov­ers, Mickey Thompson breathers, and Cal Cus­tom 40-40 chrome air scoops sup­ply eye candy.

n “We’d seen a num­ber of pic­tures of the Har­rell cars with cus­tom paint on the Stingers,” says Hen­der­son, “so we de­cided to do the lace treat­ment as well.”

n The rear cove panel is blacked out and fea­tures the SS em­blem. Trunk gaps, body fit­ment, and panel align­ment on this restora­tion from Su­per Car Work­shop are out­stand­ing.

“The end prod­uct is ab­so­lutely stun­ning”

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