One-hundred-and-seventy-three miles. It's considerably farther than your average jaunt to the grocery store, but still a fairly short distance in automotive terms. Heck, some Southern Californians rack up that many miles commuting to and from work each day! So it may be hard to believe that Mark Long's '66 Chevy II had logged just 173 miles when he acquired it six years ago. Of course, when a car is only driven 1,320 feet at a time, it takes a while for the odometer to start tallying up numbers!
A quick look under the hood lends some insight into this Nova's limited mileage, as well as its past. The chrome, dual-snorkel air cleaner denotes an L79 327-the 11:1 compression, Holley-fed, high-lift-cam-equipped small-block that came from the factory rated at 350 hp. When paired with a close-ratio Muncie four-speed and fitted in a 2,900-pound, 100-series Chevy II two-door sedan, the L79 offered a prescription for potent drag racing performance. It appears that Mark's car was used exclusively for such activities in its formative years, although little is known about its racing days-or the following two decades, for that matter.
What is known is the fact that the car sat in covered storage for many years, and nobody claimed ownership when an Arizona storage facility put a lien against it and submitted it to auction in 1994. The winning bidder was a collector who agreed to sell the car only after Mark vowed to restore it to showroom condition. As you can see, Mark kept his promise.
With only 173 miles on the clock, the restoration was easier than most. For example, most of the Plain Jane interior was simply cleaned and left intact. Ditto for much of the undercarriage (most of the suspension components-including the ball joints and bushings-are OEM parts). Mark did have the engine rebuilt, and he disassembled and detailed the subframe. He also had to replace the grenaded 3.73:1 gears in the damaged 12-bolt Positraction rearend (which is likely the reason the car was initially sidelined).
A little more effort was necessary to restore the exterior, which was in full racing regalia (Rocket wheels, multi-color paint and graphics, etc.) when Mark got the car. Still, very little bodywork was necessary before Rick Yado sprayed the body in its original hue of Aztec Bronze-an SS color that had been special-ordered on this lowly sedan. Speaking of options, the only others present (besides the engine, transmission, and Posi rearend) are the heavy-duty suspension, factory air shocks, heavy-duty radiator, and sintered metallic brake linings. All other options-including carpet, a radio and a heater-were left on the assembly line.
Considering the car's extremely low mileage, it would be understandable if Mark wanted to keep it perfect by stashing it away in a climate-controlled garage. He did that for a while, but found that he couldn't resist the temptation to take it out for a spin now and again. Hey, it's a car-a very cool, very fast car-and it needs to be driven and enjoyed, right? Consequently, the miles are slowly starting to add up. At last check, the odometer was hovering right around 600-which equals about 2,400 trips down the ol' quarter-mile!