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1966 Chevy II Nova Wagon - Hot Hauler

This High-Tech Wagon Moves People In More Ways Than One

By Mike Tulley

RK Smith seems to be a committed guy. The old saying "variety is the spice of life" doesn't seem to apply to him. Besides owning more than ten '55 Chevys and three Nomads in his lifetime, over the past 12 years Smith's owned a dozen '66-67 Chevy wagons.

Turned on to them by a pinstriper in Portland, Oregon, Smith's first wagon was a '66 100 series with power windows and a factory V-8. He's been sticking with them ever since.

This sleek '66 Chevy II Nova wagon was found by Smith in Newport Beach, California. The owner was working out of the hauler doing fiberglass repair on boats. Smith learned the owner wanted a truck, so they exchanged phone numbers. Three months later the Deuce's owner found a pickup and was ready to sell.

Smith and his friend Tom Schuster started the restoration with the intent of tearing out the stock 230-inch six and replacing it with a 283 Nova small-block. They settled for a new ZZ4 350-inch Mouse.

Smith calls the ZZ4 a crate motor, but at 355 horsepower the word "crate" is an understatement. Topped by a 750-cfm Quadrajet, the ZZ4 has aluminum heads and factory exhaust manifolds, which breath into a ceramic-coated dual-exhaust system fabricated by Rod Sexton at Rods Custom Fabrication in Orange, California. Halfway through the engine conversion they decided to strip the entire car and redo everything. After having the sheetmetal media blasted, Smith sent the wagon to Mahood's Collision and Restoration in Stanton, California, for some needed bodywork. Mark Mahood and his crew started by pulling a dent in the right rear quarter panel and performing some minor rust repair in one of the windshield pillars. Moving on to the fun stuff, Mahood shaved the body's side trim and emblems and shot the wagon with PPG Deltron single-stage Flame Red.

Next on the to-do list, Bee-Line in near-by Fullerton installed a lowered and upgraded suspension. Superior drop spindles sank the wagon 2 inches and new disc brakes, power booster, and proportioning valve from Classic Performance Products bring the wagon to a halt. Smith then had a set of polished 14 x 6 American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels wrapped by BFGoodrich Comp T/As mounted on the new suspension.

The red interior of the wagon shows true attention to detail. Roy Moyer of Milwaukee, Oregon, used red vinyl and original '66 sport coupe cloth inserts on the front and rear seats. He also fabricated the like-factory door panels. Next, Tom Scott at Collins Auto Trim of Downey, California, installed the immaculate carpeting and headliner. Topping off the interior, a restored 100 series steering wheel mounted to a rebuilt steering column keeps the wagon under control.

Maybe one day Smith will get tired of Chevy wagons and switch to something else. But, through 12 years and 12 Novas, Smith knows how to build them right.

By Mike Tulley
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