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1966 Chevy Nova - Higher Education

Building The Ultimate "High School Ride"

By Andrew Schear

All 16 year-old drivers seem to go through a metamorphosis when they get behind the wheel for the first time. It suddenly occurs to them that they are in a position of great power, not just the power behind the go pedal, but the power to travel from place to place. Every parent tells their new driver, "with great power comes great responsibility," a phrase that most kids completely ignore. That being said, a young driver's next thought is most likely, "OK, can I please leave so I'm not late to the street races."

James Glass has yearned for a '66 Nova his entire young-adult life. Many years ago, James recalls memories of his father restoring a Chevelle, a car that at the time seemed physically huge. It was James' thought that a Nova would be the coolest car, mostly because it was more his size. Three or four years later when it was time for James to purchase his first ride, his choice was still Nova all the way. Even though he could now fit perfectly in a Chevelle, his mind was decided, Nova or bust.

During a routine trip to the Pomona swap meet James and his father found the perfect car, a complete '66 Nova in running condition. The owner who purchased the car for his 16 year-old son was selling it because his son's grades had fallen to an unsatisfactory level. After the deal had been struck, James' father told him that if his grades fell, the same thing would happen. That being said, the '66 changed hands and was off to the Glass' garage. After about a week on the road, the '66 was completely disassembled and prepped for a ground-up restoration. In retrospect the Glasses' would have done the restoration in a different order, probably doing the paint last and the engine swap first. If there's one thing the Glasses' learned it was the value of experience.

Not knowing where to begin, James disassembled the entire car down to the last nut and bolt. Once the body was transformed into a mere carcass it traveled to Bob Lowry for a dip in two-stage Viper Red. When the body returned home James and his brother began assembling the freshly powder coated suspension components and installed the rearend. Unfortunately, the Fast Burn 385 was still on the "do not have" parts list as well as the 700R4 transmission. After the entire undercarriage and suspension was completed, the new small-block power plant finally made its way into the Glass' garage and eventually into James' Nova.

With the '66 now driveable but without interior, it was trailered to Quality Upholstery where a beautiful tweed bench seat was all but ready for installation. To top off the interior package, a LeCarra Mark IV wheel and Kugel shifter were also installed. James knew that if he wanted his "chick magnet" to have the power he hoped it would with the ladies, he needed one heck of a stereo. With this in mind, he installed a Custom Auto Sound USA-1 head unit with Kenwood front speakers and Pioneer rear speakers. As if his interior wasn't cool enough already James added Vintage Air and custom gauges.

After destroying a strip of asphalt 100 feet long at an undisclosed location in Pomona, California, we're quite sure that James can handle his '66 like John Force handles a funny car. As we all know, nothin' looks cooler than a red Nova sideways down a city street. If you've never seen such a sight, we suggest you keep your eyes peeled.

TECH SPECS Owner James Glass
Vehicle '66 Nova
Engine GMPP Fast Burn 385 crate motor, 350-inch sb, Fast Burn aluminum heads, forged powdered rods, forged
crankshaft, 9.6:1 pistons, hydraulic roller camshaft, intake lift .474-inch, exhaust lift .510-inch, intake duration at
.050 .208-inch, exhaust duration at .050 .221", Holley 670-cfm carburetor, GM dual-plane intake manifold, MSD
ignition, Sanders headers, Magnaflow mufflers, 385 hp at 5,600 rpm
Transmission GM 700R4, Bow-Tie overdrive, 1,900 rpm stall converter, by Bow-Tie Overdrives, Hesperia, CA (760/947-5240)
Front Classic Performance springs, Classic Performance 11-inch disc brakes, Classic Performance Shocks
Rear 10-bolt rearend, 3.55:1 Posi by Performance Gearing, Azusa, CA, Gabriel shocks
Wheels American Racing, Torque Thrust II
Front 17x7
Rear 17x8
Front Nitto NT45, 225/40/17
Rear Comp T/A, 245/40/17
Exterior Exterior moldings and emblems removed, DuPont two-stage Viper Red by Bob Lowry & Son Autobody, West
Covina, CA (626/337-4626)
Interior OEM bench seats, tweed upholstery, custom gray carpeting, installation by Quality Custom Upholstery, Irwindale, CA (626/334-8461), LeCarra steering wheel, Kugel shifter, custom gauges, Vintage Air, Custom Auto Sound head unit, Kenwood 5.25-inch front speakers, Pioneer 6x9-inch rear speakers, installed by owner
By Andrew Schear
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