In 1980, he and his wife relocated to California for a law enforcement job opportunity. The Nova stayed in New York until 1986-then it was shipped via car carrier and stored for another 20 years. Interestingly, Pileggi first met this author by chance at the Super Chevy/Argus Publishers headquarters back in 1986. Pileggi was assigned to take a vandalism report there. He was about to turn the Nova into a Pro Street machine. I suggested that he instead refurbish it to its original drag racing stance. I told him Super Chevy was interested in doing a feature article in the future and here it is in print, a mere 24 years later.
His rust-free Nova SS was professionally prepped and repainted at Bill & Diane Anderson's Hot Rod Alley in Lompoc, California, then Bel Air Ranch (Buellton, California) rebuilt the engine and cleaned up various body and chassis items.
In certain areas, the car screams early-'70s, but Pileggi chose not to stay strictly in that era when he refinished the car. Updated items include the water pump, coated original Hooker Pro Stock headers, Dart intake manifold, thermostat housing, Be Cool dual electric radiator fans, fuel line, fuel pressure regulator and valve covers. The exhaust system was updated for street driving with a mandrel-bent system featuring a balance tube. The oil pan is a vintage Moroso Performance item and the scattershield with block plate is a Lakewood original.
Pileggi updated his mint original interior with an Auto Meter Monster tachometer, shift light and gauges, a trick Grant GT cushion grip steering wheel, and Crow Industries race-type lap belts. When he ordered the car new, he didn't realize that interior carpeting was an extra-cost item. So, his Nova has the very rare basic rubber flooring.
The front tow bar brackets are the originals, created back in New York in 1973. They represent the Nova's external "calling card." The Nova SS now runs in the 12s without hurting itself. The suspension is original but the car has a slight frontal downward rake due to the large Mickey Thompson P275/60R15 rear tires. The only decal on the car is an NHRA Division 1 "Lane Of NED" original (NED=Northeast Division).
Pileggi has owned lots of other hot Chevys, including a '56 Bel Air drag car, a '66 Corvette, '66 Nova four-speed, and a '67 Chevy II. But his '70 SS will always be a keeper. He still has his owner's manual with Protect-0-Plate. Today, his Nova is driven on weekends and now and then to his police precinct.