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1963 Chevy Nova Ragtop - Homebuilt Hero

Deacon Markey And His Dad Built This Stunning '63 Nova In A Home Garage.

By , Photography by Peter S. Linney

In today's world of checkbook hot rods, it's always cool to hear a story about someone building a great Bow Tie himself in a home garage or shop. What really kicks it up a notch is when we see a homebuilt car that rivals some of the high-dollar, pro built stuff. Enter our feature Nova.

Deacon Markey and his dad, Richard, found the perfect candidate for a new super Chevy in Las Vegas. The previous owner had started to restore the '63 ragtop, but life got in the way and he had to sell it. When the Markeys got to Las Vegas, the car that greeted them was covered in surface rust, thanks to the previous owner not spraying the body with primer after mediablasting it and replacing the floor pans and rear quarters. Even though it wasn't a pretty sight, the compact came with an LS1 engine so a deal was struck and the father-son duo hauled Deacon's new Nova home.

After the body had been re-blasted to get rid of the oxidation, they set to work on building what was going to be a daily driver. A T56 was located to bolt behind the LS1, and Deacon fabricated a new tunnel and crossmember so the six-speed gearbox would fit inside the Nova.

With the notorious poor qualities of the stock Nova front suspension, a Scott's bolt-on front clip was installed to make sure the car would go whichever direction the driver wanted it to. Out back, a Hot Rods To Hell Truck Arm panhard bar-style rear suspension connected to a 9-inch rear from a Lincoln Versailles keeps the Nova's tail under control while putting power to the pavement.

Because Deacon and his father were doing the work themselves, their patience and skills were tested more than a few times. In particular, Deacon remembers painting and detailing the underside of the car. With no lift at home, he did the whole job with the Nova on jackstands while lying on his back. Deacon also bent up and installed all the tubing for the brake lines. As for the fuel system, that part of the project was an eye-opener, expense wise. A budget of $500 had been set for the system, but once all was said and done, the cost had almost doubled with the purchase of fuel pump, filter, Mallory regulator, solid feed and return lines, and all the necessary AN fittings. As Deacon puts it, "After that, cost overruns were no surprise."

After the front suspension was finished, the engine and trans were dropped in, then the computer wired and sensors connected. Since a lot of the harness had to be custom-made, the Markeys were nervous about how things would go the first time the key turned. But everything went smoothly, the engine fired up, and the Nova was a powered roller again. With downhill momentum, work continued towards making the Nova a real car again. Wilwood brakes were installed up front, and along with the factory discs on the 9-inch rear, the Nova has plenty of stopping power. To lighten the nose up, a Glasstek 2.5-inch cowl fiberglass hood replaced the factory steel unit. As a bonus, the hood is forward-hinged.

With the body set, it was time for paint. According to Deacon, this was one of the more difficult parts of the project.

"I was shooting for an elegant, but not too subdued look. The hardest part about painting a car is picking the colors. I thought a two-tone would be nice. I came up with Ferrari Titanium Grigio over Porsche Polar Silver. While I was arguing with my dad over what color the stripe between the colors should be, orange or dark red, the painter settled the dispute by starting the stripe orange at the headlight and phasing it into dark red as it runs towards the taillight. It came out very nice and it's under the clearcoat."

For the interior, luck would drop a very interesting gift into their laps. A month or two after purchasing the car, Deacon and Richard were at a large swap meet and spied a pair of Recaro buckets for sale. They were being sold by a company that dealt with GM interiors. While looking at the seats, a matching rear seat that would fit the Nova was spied, and the whole package was purchased. According to Deacon, the seats had come out of a Pontiac concept car and were never used. A custom fiberglass center console was built and painted to match, and a set of Speed Hut Revolution gauges were installed to keep tabs on the LS1 and let the driver know how bad the next speeding ticket would be. Jim's Upholstery took care of installing a fresh convertible top.

Once finished, both Deacon knew his car could never be a daily driver-it was just too nice. So, instead the car gets driven regularly on weekends, for pleasure cruises, and to car shows where it never leaves the watchful eyes of father or son.

Through the build, many people helped out with build, including Frank Moe, who volunteered his lathe and milling machine for parts fabrication, Mark Ogden, who helped a ton with a lot of the fabrication and design of the custom parts on the car, and Wes Neely who sprayed the Nova's fantastic paint.

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