Quite often we feature cars owned and/or built by folks who got their start when they were kids hanging out with their dads in the garage. It’s a time-honored tradition of passing on both practical knowledge and sometimes-impractical passion for this hobby we all love. We were lucky enough to find this awesome Nova wagon that is a perfect specimen of such a father/son endeavor. The owner of the car, 16-year-old Harrison Beach and his father, Kevin, have been working on this car for 2 years, which has not only yielded a gorgeous ride, but another member of the dirty hands fraternity of automotive enthusiasts.
“Dad and I got to talking when I was about 14 how I would be driving in the near future and what type of car I might be interested in,” recalled the teenaged Harrison. “We decided on something older but were not sure if that was going to be an old VW, truck, or muscle car. After spending some time looking at different options we settled on old muscle cars. We were looking for a car that would be cool and well supported by the aftermarket industry. However, we didn’t want a typical car, we wanted something a little different.” So began the Beach family’s search for a muscle wagon. Muscle car appeal—but with a twist—was their goal, and they started combing the ads for something that fit the bill. “We first saw this car online in early summer of 2014. It showed well in the ad, so we kept our eye on it,” Harrison said. “It hadn’t sold by the end of summer and then we saw a significant price drop in the ad. We contacted the owner and made arrangements to look at the car.” After arranging to meet the seller in the middle of the 2-hour drive separating them and looking the car over, Kevin and Harrison became the proud new owners of the 1964 Chevy Nova wagon. “Once we got the car home we checked it over and started a list of things to do. After fixing a few little safety items we attended some local car shows and cruises,” said Harrison. There they got ideas and inspirations for their new project. “After weeks of research we decided that we would tear the car down during my fall school break. The plan was to install a new front clip, re-valve the 700-R4’s valvebody, and inspect the motor.”
When fall break rolled around, Kevin took the week off of work to spend the whole time with Harrison working on the car; and work they did. In addition to learning the ins and outs of the car from his dad, he also learned one of the other constants of this hobby—nothing ever goes exactly as planned. “We got a call from Joe at Westminster Transmission, and our 700-R4 needed a complete rebuild instead of just the simple re-valving we thought. We also ran into some snags with the engine that delayed everything,” the younger Beach related. Though the weeklong thrash-fest ended slightly behind where they wanted to be, the project maintained forward progress. “The following week was back to work for dad and back to school for me so progress on the car slowed to a crawl. Dad had made it clear all along that work on the car was directly connected to my grades. Bad grades equaled no progress on the car so I had to hold up my end of the deal,” chuckled Beach. “Thanksgiving weekend brought another opportunity to make a lot of progress. We spent a lot of time installing wire loom and routing all the harnesses and hoses. Over the next few weeks there was plenty of detail work to address. The car’s official return to the hot rod scene was a trip to Donut Derelicts on December 20, 2014. I can’t believe how much we accomplished and how much I learned in those two months.”
As the car sits now, it is a stout machine that any enthusiast would be proud to own. From the outside, it has a clean, factory-stock look with subtle upgrades such as the Classic Industries billet grille, 17-inch Boyd’s Junkyard Dog wheels with Wilwood brakes peeking through. The killer stance of the Nova wagon is thanks to the complete TCI Engineering suspension on the car. Up front, 2-inch TCI drop spindles, tubular A-arms, along with RideTech springs and shocks handle all the dynamic weight-shift, while out back, RideTech HQ adjustable coilovers work well with the TCI four-link. Wilwood 11-inch brakes all around provide the stopping power to the ample horses under the hood.
A Chevrolet Performance Vortec 350, topped with an Edelbrock Performer intake and Demon 625 carb housed in a K&N filter provides the go. TCI Engineering full-length, ceramic-coated 1 3/4-inch primary headers feed into a 2 1/2-inch stainless exhaust system utilizing MagnaFlow Race Series mufflers. A completely rebuilt 700-R4 from Westminster Transmission coupled with a 2,500-stall converter from The Converter Shop sends power back to the 10-bolt rearend.
Inside the wagon, Procar Elite seats and Crow Enterprizes Pro Formula CamLock harnesses keep the occupants planted, while a Classic Console black vinyl dash filled with Classic Instruments’ Velocity White gauges keep Beach apprised of the car’s vital signs at all times. And what 16-year-old would own a car without a nice set of tunes in it? A Kenwood head unit and Alpine amp power JL Audio speakers and an 11-inch Alpine subwoofer.
Obviously, not all of the car’s upgrades happened over those first two months, as Harrison and Kevin continue to tinker and upgrade the car. “Over the past few months we added the Procar Elite bucket seats, Crow harnesses, Eddie Motorsports billet hood hinges, and many other items. Building this car has been an incredible experience and it’s not over yet,” said Harrison, adamantly. “I have always enjoyed working on cars but I never had a car this nice. This is the first car I can call mine. I take pride in knowing that I helped to make that car what it is today.”
Harrison is also quick to thank the people who helped him along the way, saying “Fran Cyrus and Kelly Tidwell from Pure Power Inc. not only helped with oils, filters, and fluids, but a whole lot of encouragement, too. They are my automotive Godparents. Joe and Mike Piraino at Westminster Performance Transmission; Sal Solorzano, Evan Dalley, and Anthony Rodriguez from TCI have awesome customer support. Hillco Fasteners, Maximum Performance speedshop, and Jackson’s Napa all helped me, too.”
Not many 16-year-olds know how to change a flat, let alone their own oil these days. Here we have a teen who, with the help of his dad, has a killer muscle car to cruise around in on the weekend. “We’ve driven the Nova over 5,000 trouble-free miles,” Harrison said proudly of the car’s street worthiness. “I hope that building this car is the first step toward a career doing what I love.” With a magazine car under his belt before high-school graduation, we’d say it’s smart money that Harrison will follow in his dad’s footsteps and find himself in the automotive industry sooner rather than later.