There's nothing quite like your first hot rod. Popping the starter for the very first time and hearing that throaty V-8 come to life seems nothing short of a miracle, especially when that sound is coming from a totally trick '63 Nova. We think it's fitting that Aaron Ohama's new project is a Chevy II, as the Latin translation for Nova means new (contrary to the Spanish interpretation which means "no go.")
According to Aaron, a friend of his was the owner of a '63 Nova needing a bit of love. After 4 months of begging his friend to sell him the Chevy II, Aaron bough it for $1,500. After a closer inspection Aaron realized what he had gotten himself into and that a fair amount of sheetmetal work would be required. In preparation for doing the work himself, Aaron signed up for the autobody course at Chaffey College and made the decision to do all the paint and bodywork alone.
While attending the classes he met John Swoops, who through a turn of events hooked Aaron up with Evan Dalley at Total Cost Involved (TCI). The friendship that Evan and Aaron kindled was bonded by nothing more than two guys working on two Novas as Saturday afternoon projects.
With no prior restoration experience, and not knowing that paint and body are better left for the end of the project, Aaron welded new quarter panels and door skins in place. After straightening the fenders and miscellaneous sheetmetal, Aaron meticulously primed and blocked the '63. The super-straight exterior was dipped in a two-stage PPG Silver-Blue and wet sanded smooth.
After the paint was complete, Aaron installed one of TCI's new Nova bolt-on front clips accompanied by Firestone air bags. The TCI clip allowed for increased space in the engine bay as well as additional clearance for a wider wheel/tire combo. In the back a TCI 9-inch rearend stuffed with 4.11:1 gears was dropped in place, with stopping power provided by Wilwood 12-inch disc brakes. The '63's rails were boxed and sub-frame connectors were welded in place for an extra bit of rigidity when goin' through the curves. With the paint and suspension complete, Aaron moved on to a bit of small-block power. The 350-inch motor was assembled by Aaron and backed with a 700R4 overdrive tranny.
In a mad rush to get the car complete for our SUPER CHEVY photo shoot the stock seats were recovered and the carpet was replaced. The interior was finished off with an ididit column and B&M Pro Stock shifter.
On test day, Aaron showed up with a smiling face and a tank full of gas. We jumped in the car, aired up the bags and went screaming down the quarter. Our first pass left us in the low 14s, not bad we thought. After jetting up the carburetor, dropping air from the rear bags and power braking the '63 from 2,000 rpm we dropped our e.t.'s to the mid-13s at just over 100 mph. When it came time to slow the Chevy II from 60-0, 132-feet was the tune that our radar gun sang.
After a quick lunch break we were off to the skidpad and slalom course to see if the stigma surrounding air bags was indeed true. To our own amazement, we pulled .82 gs on the skidpad and 43.32 mph on the slalom. The '63's excellent handling performance was largely due to two things. First, the ability to actively control both the left and right side ride height independently. Second, the TCI front clip allowed for much larger tire clearance with the wheel tucked into the well. After all, lots of rubber low to the ground makes for excellent cornering.
In summary, we commend Aaron on building a car of this caliber on his very first attempt. It's not going to win the coveted Riddler award but according to Aaron his total investment was just over $12,000. I guess you could say that the Total Cost Involved was not too much!
|Owner||Aaron and Kristina Ohama|
|Engine||350-inch small-block, World Products iron heads, GM iron crankshaft, forged steel rods, TRW 10:1 pistons, Comp Cams 282 hydraulic camshaft, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold, Holley 650-cfm carburetor, block hugger headers, Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers, assembled by owner|
|Transmission||GM 700R4, assembled by Sherman Leach, Pomona, CA (909/625-2466)|
|Front||TCI 2-inch dropped spindles, TCI shortened axles, Firestone bags, TCI shocks, Wilwood drilled/slotted 12-inch brakes, total front lowering 7-inches|
|Rear||TCI 9-inch rearend, 4.11:1 gears, Currie TST limited slip, Wilwood drilled/slotted 12-inch disc brakes, assembled by TCI, Ontario, CA (909/984-1773)|
|Wheels||Intro Pentia, courtesy of Intro (877/424-8991)|
|Interior||OEM steering wheel, ididit column, B&M shifter, cool skull provided by owner, Alpine head unit and speakers, by Transonic, Montclair, CA, stock seats, vinyl/cloth by "Doc" at Artful Expressions, Pomona, CA (909/625-2466),|
|Exterior||PPG Silver-Blue two-stage clearcoat, by Stits Hot Rods, Upland, CA (909/208-9009)|
|Road Rage Performance Data|
|60 foot||2.07 seconds|
|0-30 mph||1.86 seconds|
|0-60 mph||5.06 seconds|
|1/4 mile||13.47 at 102.80|
|60-0 mph||132.40 feet|
|200-foot skidpad||.82 Gs|
|420-foot slalom||43.32 mph|