Gary bought this 1970 Nova in ’74 off a friend who was buying a ’68 Shelby KR 500 convertible. He purchased the Nova because it was clean and well taken care of, and the seller only wanted $600. He was 20 years old, and it was the first nice car that he had.
It was a plain car that had a 350, 2bbl, 3-speed on the floor, 3.08 10 bolt Posi, heavy-duty suspension, power steering, and disc brakes. There was also the AC that blew cold, a deluxe dark green interior with a cloth bench seat, and a few other options.
Over the first year, he added a set of Western aluminum slots, traction bars, and a set of black Hooker headers & side pipes. He left the engine alone for the first three years while he was going on road trips to Daytona Beach for spring break in 1974 through ’76 and month-long trips to California in 1976.
Over those three years, he added an L88 fiberglass hood and found a Pontiac hood tach to put on it. At the same time, the GTO he got the tach off of had a dark green bucket seat interior. So, he bought the front and back seats & the 4-speed console, and with a little bit of engineering got them to fit. The back seat in the 1970 Nova is longer than the Pontiac seat so he had to take it to a local upholstery shop where they added material to make it fit the Nova’s frame. He also added a 4-speed and upgraded the Hooker headers to the chrome versions.
Then in ’77, he finally decided to “build” the Nova. Then the brother of the friend he purchased the Nova from was selling his ’69 Camaro SS that he had driven daily, and it was starting to show quite a bit of rust. Gary decided to buy it for $500 so that he could take the engine ( 350/350 ), 4-speed, and 12 bolt Posi out and put them in the Nova.
At the same time, he bought a ’71 Monte Carlo SS. His friend had owned it for about four days when he found a ’69 Corvette that he liked better, so he asked Gary if he was interested in the Monte Carlo. And well, Gary needed a date car and it was about the same dark green as the 1970 Nova, so he bought it for $2,300, but that’s a whole different story entirely.
Check out Gary’s 1971 Monte Carlo here:
It was a customer car of the month!
Back to the Nova, he really wanted to put a blower on it. He wound up taking it to Dyers just down the street and bought what he was coming out with: a V671 that was right in his price range. He took the 350 small block over to the guy that had built a couple of motors for his stock car and he bored it out .60 over, added blower pistons, a steel crank, roller cam, and all the right stuff to make some power.
The 1970 Nova came off the dyno at almost 600 hp before he put in the 12 bolt rear. He added a 4.11 gear, Moroso Posi, and Strange axles. That’s the way it remained until 2014 when he melted a piston.
While he was rebuilding the Dyers blower motor, he had a 327 small block sitting in the garage that was supposed to get rebuilt. Instead, he put it in the 1970 Nova so he could drive it while the 350 was being rebuilt.
Unfortunately, his funds have become limited and the 350 is still sitting in the garage. He repainted the Nova in 1978 and at the time he put the blower motor in the same Antique Green Monte Carlo. In 1985 he removed the 4-speed and installed a TH400 with a manual reverse valve body set up he bought from a friend out of his Run Tuff race car. The Nova remains the same today, still as it was in 1978, paint, chrome, wheels, interior and all.
This 1970 Nova is special because it was the first nice car he owned.
With all of the road trips and the personal modifications from the fiberglass hood to the side pipes, the interior where he made an extension from the floor console to the dash and mounted five gauges and switches to making the brackets to get the seats to fit. This was all done with no formal training, just trial and error.
Plus everything on the car was done when he was in his 20’s. The 1970 Nova was also featured in 2 magazines! One feature was in 1986 in a magazine called Auto Buff; the title of the publication says it all as all of the cars were great looking. The other feature was in Popular Hot Rodding in 2014, with the issue featuring 42 real-world reader’s cars.
In the future, Gary would like to get the blower motor back in, take the 4.11 out, and reinstall the 3.55 to make it more drivable. He also wants to replace the suspension bushings because they are mostly still original. He’ll likely update the interior as well, since all those days spent in Daytona and California are starting to show their age.