1966 Chevrolet Nova - Calling Card II
If a picture's worth a thousand words, then building an entire car to make your point speaks volumes, which is exactly what Classic Industries had in mind with its latest project: this tight, sano '66 Nova.
Classic's rendition of the always-popular early Nova differs from its last endeavor, the no-holds-barred '69 Camaro known as Camotion. The stablemates share a paint scheme and wheel style, but the 'box is a scaled-down project. It doesn't lack for quality, as you can see, but this ride embraces the do-it-yourself, restomod ethos-as has Classic Industries itself.
"For the last 20-plus years we've been known as a resto company," observes Mark Vogt, CI's general manager. "But there's been a shift in the market." That shift is driven by what's become a basic fact of life in the classic car hobby, which is this: Most cars worth restoring have already been restored. The rest, freed from the constraints of strict originality, are fair game for the restomod treatment. "People called us wanting to put hot-rod parts on their cars, so we started carrying them," continues Vogt. "Over the past six years or so, we've been seriously picking up performance parts for our catalog."
Not that the restoration side of the deal has been neglected... Prior to its ground-up makeover, this particular '66 Nova served as a test bed for Classic's repro body panels and trim. If that sounds like a suitable solid starting point for a high-quality project to you, you're not alone. Bret Maxwell of American Muscle Cars-the outfit that did all that test fitting, not to mention the bulk of this build-agrees. "It was one of the nicest mid-'60s cars we've seen," he reports. "The bodywork needed was extremely minimal." The effort expended, on the other hand, was anything but. Once blown apart, the AMC crew went through a complete mock-up build prior to paint and body. The resulting fit and finish, as you might expect, is top-notch.
Though built by pros, however, this 'box is meant to illustrate what's possible for the rest of us. "It's a budget-oriented car," according to Vogt. "Except for the paint, there's nothing on this car that the average guy can't do." And in case you were wondering, this '66 also illustrates the benefits of one-stop shopping. Every part used, be it resto, restomod, or high-performance, came out of the Classic Industries catalog. Hey, where else did you think they'd shop?
In the final analysis, however, there's really only one thing that matters, and American Muscle Cars' Maxwell summed it up nicely: "It's a great-driving, fun little car." And that, friends, is something we can all embrace.
When it came time to power its shoebox creation, Classic Industries maximized the bang-for-the-buck factor by dropping in a GM Performance Parts 350 H.O. Deluxe crate motor. This tried-and-true powerplant is based on a four-bolt main block; its hydraulic flat-tappet cam is an updated version of the 'stick used in '65-67, L79 327ci Corvettes, and it breathes through Vortec heads and a GMPP dual-plane intake. A 600-cfm Holley carb does the mixing; the Nova's builders crafted a set of custom-bent fuel lines to keep the bowls full. Waste gas disposal duties are handled by Doug's Tight Tuck headers, which empty into a custom-built, 211/42-inch Magnaflow dual exhaust system. Cooling duties are capably handled by an Afco aluminum crossflow radiator fitted with a Flex-a-Lite electric fan. It's all backed by a B&M-built Turbo 350 tranny spinning a 2,000-stall converter, with gear changes handled by a QuickSilver shifter. The power flows back through a custom prop shaft by Inland Empire Driveline (Ontario, California) and back to a '66-vintage, 3.42:1-geared 12-bolt posi rearend built by Diff-Works of San Bernardino, California. The real payoff, however, comes from the pump-gas-friendly 9.1:1 compression ratio and 380 lb-ft of torque on tap, which jibe perfectly with this ride's restomod mission.
Part of this Nova's mission is to show just how much can be accomplished with bolt-on parts, and Exhibit A would have to be the front suspension setup. American Muscle Cars excised the factory front rails, replacing them with a Heidt's Superide II front subframe, complete with swaybar, 2-inch drop spindles, and manual rack-and-pinion steering. Stock Nova springs team with Monroe shocks to cushion the ride. Out back, a matching set of Monroes teams with Calvert Racing Products de-arched monoleaf springs, which lower the works by an inch; traction is ensured with a CalTracs system.
The Look
In its former life, this Nova was used to test-fit Classic Industries' repro body panels, so it's safe to say that it made a solid starting point for this build. The crew at American Muscle Cars stripped the 'box and acid-dipped the bare bones. Problem areas in the rocker and quarter-panels were patched with Classic Industries replacement panels, but believe it or not, everything else is original, even the hood. Upon reassembly, the engine compartment was enhanced with Heidt's inner fender panels; on the outside, all trim and emblems were shaved, while a CI billet grille replaced the stock stamped piece. AMC also sprayed Classic's signature duo of hues, specifically Spies Heckler Mercedes Silver and Chrysler Burgundy. The two are set off by an orange pinstripe, ably laid-on by Little Louie.
Extra Effort
When we say all exterior trim and emblems were shaved, we do mean all. Classic's quest for unencumbered body lines meant that even the rear trim panel had to go; the look is exquisitely clean.

Stop & Go
Classic's creation rolls on American Racing Salt Flat wheels, 17x8 front and rear; they're wrapped in sticky Toyo Proxes T1R rubber, measuring 255/45ZR17 at both ends. Stopping ability has also been substantially upgraded with Wilwood 12-inch discs and four-piston Dynalite calipers on all four corners-the binders are activated by a Wilwood master cylinder and prop valve. American Muscle Cars created a set of brake lines to make it all work.
The Digs
Wanda's Upholstery of San Bernardino, California, was tabbed to install the Nova's new interior, which consisted of new components from Classic's OER line: black vinyl seat covers, headliner, and door panels, along with a repro black carpet kit, and that's just for starters. The kick and sail panels, the visors, the door handles, and all the other chrome trim was refreshed as well. An OER reproduction speedometer takes center stage in the dash, nicely enhanced by a Shiftworks gauge conversion kit in place of the stock idiot lights. The steering wheel is a repro Comfort Grip piece, as found in '67-70 Novas-it sits atop an ididit tilt steering column. Tunage is provided by a Custom Auto Sound stereo running through a quartet of Kenwood speakers, and the works is tied together with a Factory Fit wiring harness.

Photo Gallery: 1966 Chevrolet Nova - Calling Card II - Chevy High Performance Magazine

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