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1963 Chevy Nova SS - For The Love Of Car

A Good Lesson In Making The Most Of Your Resources

By Jason Walker, Photography by Kevin Lee

Most of us will do whatever it takes to build our dream ride(s), even at the expense of women, cash, a nice pad-you get the point. In fact, one of the best things about talking with other car crazies, is hearing their tales of how they fit a project car into their family and working arenas. Happily, the world does have its fair share of tolerant women who not only encourage this insanity but will oftentimes jump in and lend a hand. Then, there are those of us who try to combine building a car with working at a career (this would be the more attractive avenue if your work allows it). After reading Dan Thompson's story of how he built the clean '63 droptop you see before you, we knew Dan was on the right track. Not only was he able to utilize the tooling and space at his work, but as it turns out, Dan works with quite a few car lovers that just happened to be talented car builders, as well.

Dan grew up in a neighborhood with a resident hot rodder that built everything from dragsters to street cars. This is who gave Dan his first taste of flying down the street in a fast car (the car was a '40 Ford coupe with Chevy power). The next step from there was obviously to hunt down and get a hold of his own four-wheel fun which, oddly enough, turned out to be a '63 Nova ragtop. Even after owning many other Chevys over the years, Dan wanted to roll down the boulevard in his first love. So, after finding a relatively clean, one-owner Deuce, he brought it to the shop, and with the help of co-workers, finished this stellar street car over the next nine months.

As luck would have it, Dan's work utilized paint booths, sanding booths, rotisseries, and lifts that could easily be converted from remanufactured medical equipment during the day, to a full-service auto shop at night and on weekends. This left Dan in a wonderful position (instead of paying a shop to build his car) to afford all the right parts like an '02 GM ZZ4 crate engine, 700-R4 trans by TPI of Griffith, Indiana, big Wilwood brakes, and a Heidts IFS, just to name a few. Some of the best work on the car was handled by co-workers like Jeff Bowers, who not only supervised the project but also performed the mechanical work, welding, electrical, and paint, among others. Even the interior modifications (a '58 Impala steering wheel, modified bucket seats, an ididit column, and a B&M shifter) were performed in-house, leaving only the leather upholstery to the professionals at Armando's Upholstery of Hemet, California. Other custom interior features are the electric windows, remote door poppers, Rockford Fosgate sound system, and trunk-mounted gas filler.

All in all, the point to this story is: if there is a will, there is a way, even if means combining your hobby with work just to keep the car parts from taking over your home life. I know, I know, it's just a little wishful thinking.

Tech Specs
OwnersDan & Judy Thompson, Murrieta, CA
Vehicle'63 Nova SS convertible
Engine'02 GM ZZ4, Holley 670 Street Avenger, Dawson
 1 7/8-inch headers, Flowmaster 50 Series mufflers,
 Street & Performance serpentine system, MSD Billet
 distributor, Vintage Air, Be Cool aluminum radiator,
 Moon valve covers and air cleaner
Transmission700-R4 w/ TPI 2,500-stall converter
RearendCurrie 9-inch polished with 3.70 ratio, TSD
 limited slip
Suspension
FrontHeidts spindles, 3-inch drop springs, KYB shocks,
 Wilwood brakes
RearEaton 2-inch drop springs, custom square-tube clip
 by Jeff Bowers, Wilwood 11-inch brakes
WheelsAmerican Racing Torque Thrusts, 7x15 front,
 8x16 rear
TiresBFG TAs, 205/55/R15 front, 265/50/R16 rear
InteriorOriginal bucket seats modified for tall folks,
 Armondo's Upholstery, Hemet, CA, leather throughout,
 custom console, Classic Instruments gauges,
 '58 Impala steering wheel
ExteriorMoved gas filler into trunk, chromed stock grille,
 PPG '63 Chevy White
By Jason Walker
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