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New PHR Project Car

1968 Nova
Posted November 2 2009 05:34 PM by Johnny Hunkins 
Filed under: Project Cars

PHR's new 1968 Nova project car

Meet our new project car—a 1968 Chevy Nova

Ever since selling the ’76 Camaro, Project g/28, I’ve been looking for a new project car for PHR. In the past, I’ve toyed around with the idea of doing a Nova, but never went that route seriously. This time, I got serious, and looked at about a dozen cars in person, and several hundred on line at places like Craig’s List, eBay, The Pomona Swap Meets classifieds,,, and I settled on the ’68-72 body style for a couple of reasons. The ’62-65 body-style is the most compact and lightweight. It’s also surprisingly affordable given its age. You can find a lot of good values out there and parts are plentiful. Nevertheless, that body style (first gen), particularly the front end, is an acquired taste, so I passed on that. The second-gen ’66-67 Hardtop coupe is (to me at least) the most seductive of the Nova body styles. Apparently, plenty of people agree, because the cost of a ’66-67 Hardtop is through the roof—no pun intended. The price of these cars kept me out of the game. The third-gen Nova (’68-74) is also very attractive, particularly the ’68-72 small-bumper cars. They’re also still relatively affordable, so that was the focus of my search.

After looking for a few months, I ran across this refrigerator white ’68, owned by Nathan Atchison of Hemet, CA. Nathan's Craig’s List ad claimed zero rust (which when examined was close enough to the truth for me). No rust was important over anything else, because you’ll pay a lot more down the road with time, money, and anguish. The ’68 also had a slightly breathed on 350 V-8, another plus. It also came with a serviceable set of headers, a dual Flowmaster exhaust, and a non-stock Turbo 400 trans. Nathan clearly enjoyed the car; he had taken good care of it, and would be sad to see it go. On the down side, there is no interior in it—, not even a dash pad, just the front and rear bench seat.  I have to say that no interior turned out to be somewhat beneficial, because I was able to inspect the door skins and quarter panels from the interior using a flashlight. In spite of being relatively rust free, there were still a significant number of dings and dents, and the paint quality was barely above primer grade. Still, we should be able to shoot this thing for two or three grand, and have it come out really nice.

Nathan was asking $6k, which seemed on the high side for a stripped-down car. Still, nothing I’d been looking at for that price was as rust free, so I bargained the seller down to $5k. The deal was struck, and I drove it the 35 miles home last night in the dark. I found out that it has a wonderful sound through the Flowmasters—which I think are worth keeping. The power drum brakes aren’t so great. When stomped on, the car pulls hard to the right. In a panic stop, this thing is going to barrel roll for sure. No more serious highway use until that gets fixed with some competent discs.

Check back later, and see what I’m thinking about doing with it!

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