It takes a lot to make a Super Chevy staffer walk back to your car a few times when he sees it in the show field. But every time Editor Jim Campisano walked past this Nova at this year’s Memphis Super Chevy event, he had to stop and continue exploring. There were so many custom touches, so many subtle mods that kept popping up, that he had to go back multiple times for a closer look.
Owner Jimmy Shaw explained the custom bodywork to us: “The roof was cut 1-inch in the A-pillar, the vent glass was taken out, the firewall cut and smoothed, inner and outer fenders were handmade and a custom front bumper was shortened and smoothed. The rear bumper was shortened and the bumper was cut to allow for the exhaust. Floorpans were cut and channeled, mini-tubs were installed, and there are custom one-off headlights, rear taillight bezels, and lenses. The rear trunk plate was also custom-made, the front spoiler was handmade, and it was all done by Greening Auto Company.”
Novas have long been a part of Jimmy’s life. “Growing up, my dad had a 1962 Chevy II two-door hardtop that was red. I loved driving the Nova at 12-years-old,” he told us. “The Nova was traded for a bigger car before I got my license, and I lost my dad in 1977 after I graduated from high school.’
That Nova left a mark in Jimmy’s life and he went on to buy his own in 1981, trading a 1975 Ford Pinto wagon and $500 for it. He drove that car until 1982 when he got married. Money was tight, so it sat until 1987, when he had it painted without an engine or transmission.
“Fast forward to 1995, I built a new house and shop and had a guy that wanted the Nova, which still didn’t have an engine or transmission, so I sold it in 1996,” Jimmy said.
The good news is he eventually bought it back, modified the heck out of it including a 502/502 crate engine), but then the unthinkable happened: Around 2002, an 18-wheeler destroyed it. Jimmy knew that Chevy II was a goner and he moved on with his life, continuing on with his hobby of flipping cars until 2009, when he found our feature subject on eBay. At the time, it was white with red interior. He purchased the car and decided he would build it for autocross. That’s when he turned to Greening Auto Company in Nashville, Tennessee, for help with the build.
The Nova is powered by a Chevrolet Performance LSX376 crate engine, which comes with a nodular iron crankshaft, powdered metal connecting rods, forged aluminum pistons, a hydraulic roller camshaft (0.551/0.552-inch lift, 204/211 degrees duration at 0.050), and LS3 rectangular port 68cc cylinder heads. Investment cast roller trunnion rocker arms with a ratio of 1.7:1 are also part of the crate engine. Once Jimmy got his hands on it, a Precision Metal Works sheetmetal intake manifold was added, and the bottom end was sealed with a Mast Motorsports 5-quart oil pan. A Walbro fuel pump provides adequate nourishment. Detroit Speed Inc. NitroPlate-coated 1 3/4-inch headers flow through to a MagnaFlow stainless steel exhaust system.
The combination is good for 387 horsepower to the rear wheels, with the help of a Tremec T-56 six-speed transmission paired with a McLeod Super Street Pro clutch disc and McLeod pressure plate. A Moser Engineering 9-inch rear is paired with 3.50 gears and a TruTrac limited-slip differential.
As beautiful as the exterior is, there is a lot to be said about the physical appearance under the hood of this classic. A smoothed engine bay, billet aluminum valve covers, and more, all slathered in Victory Red make for a beautiful presentation, courtesy of Greening Auto Company.
Since the Nova was destined for autocross duty, suspension was an important part of the build. Jimmy turned to RideTech for adjustable shocks all around and Detroit Speed for the subframe. At the same time, a DSE QuadraLink rear suspension, sway bars, and mini-tubs were also welded in. The brakes are no joke, either: Fifteen-inch Baer rotors up front are squeezed by six-piston calipers, while the rear rotors measure 14-inches (again with six-piston calipers).
Ensuring the potential of the suspension components is reached is the job of Greening Auto Company custom “Shaw” wheels (19x9, 20x10) with 5- and 4 1/2-inch backspacing, respectively, wrapped in Sumitomo 235/35 and 275/35 tires. (Jimmy met with GAC’s engineers and helped design these rims himself, ergo the Shaw name.)
Inside, a Lipstick Red leather interior by Paul Atkins Interiors complements the Victory Red exterior (painted by GAC’s Jeff Greening), and Classic Instruments gauges have also been installed. The steering wheel and shifter are both one-off pieces by GAC, and the rollcage, custom-made console, gauge bezel, dash trim, dashpad, and door panels are all GAC creations. A JVC stereo with Kicker amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers was also installed by GAC, with a Vintage Air climate system for a comfortable ride.
“There have been no major body changes—just a lot of small custom features,” Jimmy explains. “More horsepower would be the only thing I would do differently, but driveability is the biggest thing and the car is easy to drive. I did a 3,000-mile road tour with it last year and it was so much fun. My dad would be proud of the red Nova.”
Despite its numerous show awards, Jimmy’s taken it autocrossing numerous times. He loves getting it out on the ragged edge of control (and beyond), using those high-quality parts like the manufacturers intended.
Jimmy has always enjoyed buying, fixing up, and selling cars. In high school alone, he owned 15 cars, and his hobby continued from there. This one’s special, though—it’s definitely a keeper. It’s so remarkable, in fact, Super Chevy’s parent company invited Jimmy to put his Nova in its booth at the Louisville Street Rod Nationals, the largest show in the nation for the NSRA.