Hans Gebhard has, like many, been around cars since he was a youngster. His dad repaired cars on the side when he was growing up and showed him the ins and outs of repair and modification throughout his formative years. While Hans worked the majority of his life repairing heavy equipment and doing cars on the side, around eight years ago he finally made it official, forming Fine Line Restoration.
Around that same time is when he started building the black and orange '66 Nova you see here.
"At the time I had no money," said Hans. "But as the years went by I was able to add various items, like the TCI front clip and the rear seats."
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before Hans could even get in the position to upgrade the chassis, he had to actually acquire the car. Which almost didn't happen.
"I always wanted a '66 but they were just too expensive," he said. "One day, the day after Thanksgiving in fact, I was flipping through the Denver Post and came across what seemed to be a pretty good bargain."
Hans got the seller to email him some pictures and although the car was torn apart and didn't run, it looked to be in good shape. And at $2,000, was a steal.
"I called the guy back—he lived like four hours up in the mountains somewhere, and he said that somebody was on his way up to get it," Hans said.
The race was on. Hans, with the assistance of his uncle, hitched up his trailer and headed up towards Walsenburg, Colorado. En route they ran into one of the Rocky Mountain's famous early season snowstorms. At one point the trailer jackknifed, nearly hurtling them off of a 1,000-foot cliff. Not wanting to relinquish the "miracle find" they soldiered on.
"When we got there, the seller told us that the other guy had already showed up," Hans said. The stoic Viking's fortitude nearly turned to tearful regret until the seller, a younger guy who may have just tired of the project, continued: "He showed up here without a trailer and left," he said.
As luck would have it, Walsenburg is a one-horse town, so the guy's plan to rent a trailer didn't exactly pan out. Hans came prepared with his 20-footer. "It really was a miracle find," he said. "Each and every piece was hanging on the wall blasted to bare metal. It wasn't running, so we had to push it on the trailer."
Once he got the car back to his garage in Brighton, Colorado, Hans messed with the electrical elements here and there and got the car running.
"Then I took it for a drive and realized the tranny was slipping," said Hans. "So the first thing I did was to install the '86 700-R4."
One has to imagine the neighbors' reaction as Hans putted down the street in an old Chevy with no glass or panels, but that state of affairs would only last until he put the panels on, got them lined up with a bit of metalwork, then took it apart again for paint.
"I actually painted it twice," Hans said. "I always had this picture of a Chevy truck with flames, and I always wanted to paint my dream car that way. But when I finished it was really ugly, so I resprayed it."
The current two-tone consists of House of Kolor Sunset Pearl up top, and black from the same company down below, while the scheme is broken up with a "Fine Line" of Orion silver fading to violet pearl. Finishing exterior touches include the chromed bumpers and two-inch cowl hood. The dazzling paint job may be the highlight of this medium-dollar build, but that doesn't mean Hans forgot about the rest of the car.
The motor is the same '70 383 stroker that came with the car, but with a few additions. On the intake side there is a Quadrajet carburetor, an Edelbrock manifold, and a K&N 6.5-inch air filter. Hans also added an AFE aluminum radiator with two one-inch cores. He also raised the alternator a few inches with custom brackets found online. He estimates the horsepower at around 370, and the sound from the Hooker Headers leading to the 3.5-inch custom exhaust through the Flowmaster mufflers has a fitting growl for that kind of power.
Albatross Upholstery came through in the one area of car building that Hans doesn't do. It did the rear seat, while the fronts hail from Corbeau. After Hans got the door panels and carpet in from Classic Industries, he drove it around for a few years. Then as his company started to take off, he went all out for the TCI front clip and a few other upgrades, like the three-inch driveshaft.
"I had no money when I started the build," said Hans, "so while the suspension utilizes Air Ride components like the tank and lines, the front and rear mounts for the Slam Specialties airbags I custom made."
After incorporating the TCI front clip to these other suspension components, Hans attended a Super Chevy show, garnering accolades in the form of Best in Class and Best of Show honors. It was around this time that yours truly approached him to be featured in the magazine. It took a while, but here it is. And if you think this Nova is one "sick sixty-six," then wait until learn see what he's got cooking now: a twin-turbo big-block Nova with close to six figures invested.
"I figured this one is worth some money as it is," said Hans referring to his finished '66. "So I'm doing to the other one all the things that I couldn't to this."
We have seen a build picture of new Nova, and if Han's two-tone creation is an example of what he can do on a budget with his one man company, we can only assume that his next build is going to be straight evil.