When it comes to fiberglass panels for hot rods, few manufacturers can claim the quality that Harwood, of Tyler, Texas, can. For the past 35 years, the folks at Harwood have been perfecting the art of recreating our favorite cars’ hoods, bumpers, doors, and even whole bodies in black, glossy fiberglass. What we found interesting was that each fiberglass part you get from Harwood is hand-laid by technicians using only the highest quality composites available and because the molds can get tweaked after so many uses, they are constantly renewed to ensure quality fit and finish for their customers. Whether you’re looking for a cowl hood for your street car, or if you are a drag racer looking for a stand-alone hoodscoops, Lexan windows, or even carbon fiber, Harwood may have what you’re looking for.
A few months ago we picked up a ’63 Chevy Nova hardtop that you’ll be seeing a lot of on the pages of Chevy High Performance. Last month we drove it to Cal Blast in Upland, California, to get its old coats of paint removed and to properly assess what we were working with. Luckily, it wasn’t terribly rusty. This month we fit some fiberglass pieces from Harwood and explore some of our mounting options. Even though we plan to drive this car on the street a lot, we must warn you that we’re putting some parts on it that will make some street car purists scoff and point accusingly while mouthing “race car”, but we assure you that even though this car will have a lift-off hood, fiberglass front bumper, and a fiber decklid, this car will see time on the streets of SoCal.
Depending on what you’re building, fiberglass can be a good alternative to hours of repair or seeking out new or old steel, which, like fiberglass, often needs to be modified to fit properly too. In our case, the trunk had some dents that we would rather remedy with a new piece, but being the speed-hungry gearheads we are, we preferred to drop some weight while we’re at it, so Harwood’s decklid for ’62-65 Novas (PN 13040) was put on order. We originally wanted a flat hood, but when we started talking about the engine the Nova will have, and its likely tall intake manifold, we decided that we’d need some clearance underhood and went with Harwood’s 4-inch cowl for Chevy IIs (PN 13034). The steel front bumper was replaced with a lighter version as well (PN 13050).
We managed to shave close to 90 pounds by going with Harwood’s products, and while some like to exclaim their horror stories regarding ’glass parts fitment, ours came very close to mounting without needing modifications out of the box. In fact, we were even able to use the factory hinges after removing the spring mechanism (we used 3M’s Panel Bonding Adhesive, PN 08115, and glued them to the underside of the trunk. We’ll use a prop rod that we’ll keep with the car to support it open.). Follow along this year to find out the fate of our Nova project, which we’ve been calling “The Hellion”; because if you’ve ever driven a high-powered car on a small tire, you know this ain’t no angel.