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1967 Chevy Nova - The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

A Nova that Nearly Didn't Happen

Mike Harrington Sep 1, 2006
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As the sun rises on the eastern horizon and begins its ascent into the sky, the world below pulses to life. Countless masses of people are waking up and preparing for the coming day. It isn't long before the highways, thoroughfares, and freeways of California pulsate with the throngs of traffic heading for the usual destinations.

Amid all the chaotic motion on the road, there is one vehicle sitting ever so still and rusting in peace. A myriad of years have passed, and all the while this vehicle has sat, apparently forgotten by the moving world around it. Much like the fossilized remains of a long-forgotten creature waiting to be discovered, this '67 Nova awaits its final, uncertain destiny. Neglected as it is, it does not, however, go unnoticed.

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Scott McAfee, a typical guy on his way to work noticed this little Nova for quite awhile. Each time he passed the rusting vehicle, a flurry of questions crossed the threshold of his mind: "Is it for sale?" "Who owns it?" "I wonder how much they want for it?" And every time these questions came up, they were quickly dismissed by that pessimistic voice inherent in all of us.

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It's easy to convince ourselves that the owner will never sell because we figure it would be gone by now. One argument after another comes up, and we quickly talk ourselves out of it. The situation, though, was rather different for Scott. One day, something was a bit unusual, and kept him from giving in to his usual doubts about the car's availability. So he stopped to ask the question that had been nagging him for so long: "Is the Nova for sale?" Much to his surprise, it was.

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After arriving home with his newly acquired toy, daydreams of building the "ultimate Chevy" dominated Scott's mind. A well-meaning neighborhood friend recommended a "local guy" to help him complete his quest. A year-and-a-half later after handing over his Nova and large amounts of cash, the situation spiraled out of control. The villainous "local guy" had done precious little to the Nova, and even started selling parts off of the car! Legal battles ensued, and eventually Scott won-on paper, anyway. The reality of the situation was far different. The Nova had lost this war, and when it was back in Scott's possession, it was less a car than when it started, and the sheetmetal was warped from where the "local guy" attempted to weld in the trim holes. Anguish over the Nova's shattered state quickly set in, and all Scott could think of doing was to find the nearest cliff and push the car over the edge. But some dreams die hard, and the dream of owning his ultimate Chevy was still just barely alive.

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Enter Lang Paculli, another local builder. Lang was a gifted, young 20-year-old hot rod craftsman, possessing skills that far exceeded his age. Scott met up with Lang and once again gave the Nova a chance at resurrection. Once bitten, twice shy, Scott hovered like a hawk over Lang during the initial stages of the build. His skepticism quickly eroded, though, as he watched Lang and his crew at LP Racing fabricate and install a beautiful set of mini-tubs into the Nova. From this point on, Lang took on the prominent lead role in the buildup of this Nova. A small-block 350 was built by LP Racing and machined by Outlaw Racing Engineers, bored 0.40 over, balanced and blueprinted with Dart Iron Eagle heads, a COMP Cams shaft, with 0.525-inch lift (intake and exhaust), and 250-degree duration (intake and exhaust); Edelbrock intake, a Barry Grant Speed Demon 750-cfm carb, and Mahle pistons at 11:0:1. With an estimated horsepower of 480 at 6,100 rpm, and torque estimated at 460 lb-ft at 5,200, the small-block lurking beneath the hood was ready to pounce the Second Gear, as the loud pedal hit the floor.

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Knowing how important it is to go fast and look good doing it, LP racing influenced many of the aesthetic details like the console, custom interior, and the use of color in the engine bay. Ron Mangus and his crew stitched up the inside of the Nova, and Brown Auto Works shot the House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl. Set off by Budnik Cobalt wheels and BFGoodrich g-Force tires, the little box Nova has a set of shoes to match the rest of its looks. Scott McAfee has truly experienced the best and worst situations involved in the buildup of any car, and still came out the better for it.



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