"The old slicks looked cool," says Murphy. "But driving on them for even a short distance was scary, so we replaced them."
After enjoying the restored car for a while, Murphy sold it to Helen Gibb. It shares her garage with a one-off GMMG-built prototype ZL-1 Camaro, but the Nova is her time machine.
"It's a wonderful car," she told SUPER CHEVY. "I love the seats. Just sitting in it [the Nova] brings back all those memories of the racing days."
The turquoise car also has been restored, but still wears numerous authentic cues from its early days, including a firewall-mounted "Dick Harrell Performance Inc." identification plaque and valve cover stickers. The "396" fender badges were replaced with "427" badges, too, and there's a big Sun tach lashed to the steering column.
During the time of our photos, however, the car was still undergoing a few finishing touches, so the interior shows the standard center console is missing. Hattick also has sold the car since our photo shoot was completed.
Helen Gibb points to the research of the late enthusiast Dennis Hartweg, who verified several original COPO Novas prior to his death. Enthusiasts Ray Morrison and Kim Howie also have located some of the cars, the total of which, at the time this story was written, stood at 14. That leaves 36 others out there, each waiting to be found and returned to the spotlight. The list of VINs that has been graciously provided by Gibb is certainly the Holy Grail for those hoping to verify a barn-find muscle car.
As much as Fred Gibb should be remembered for his foresight and tenacity in his role as the instigator of the COPO muscle cars, Helen Gibb must be commended for her continuing enthusiasm and genuine affection for those involved in the hobby. Her VIN list is a gift to the Chevy world as much as those original COPO Novas were godsends to Chevy racers in their day. SUPER CHEVY thanks her for the contribution.
Editor's note: If you've got an original COPO Nova--or any COPO car or Chevy super car--the place to bring it is the annual Fred Gibb Memorial Car Show in La Harpe, Ill. This year's event takes place Aug. 6 and 7. Helen Gibb will be glad to see your car.