1978 Chevrolet Nova SS
1978 Chevrolet Nova Rally
“The Brown Bomber”
Head to Head
About “78 NO-GO”
I bought this car when I was 16 years old in 1999. She had a frozen up inline six, no transmission and was destined to crusher one day. Until I bought her for $300 that I'd worked a summer job for. I then spent more hard earned dough on a 400 cu small block and a transmission. I bought all of the seals, a motor stand and began building a dream. I would often sit in it (on a cinder block) and dream of one day cruising down the highway in it. I quickly ran out of funds and began to realize that I had the rest of my life to build a project and I wanted to save up and get a 72 Nova or a 69 Oldsmobile instead. So I sold it for what I had in it to a buddy in a town 45 miles away. He sold it to another guy in a town about 20 miles away from him, and that man sold it to an old lady there in the same town. I never saw the car again.
As time passed I often missed the Nova. I had grown partial to the x-body, she was, after all, my first car. I would talk to people about the car I used to own and the big plans I had for her.
One day at college I found myself in just such a conversation. I talked about the engine I was building, the paint I wanted, and all the while remembering that the dream had sailed. But I didn't know what the Fates had in store for me.
On my way home (I commuted to college 60 miles one way), I saw in my college town a Nova like my old one for sale. I thought little of it at first, but like a splinter in my mind it began to fester and swell into a crazy idea before I made it home. Sixty miles later I could take no more, I turned around and drove all the way back to investigate the car.
I began looking her over. She had an engine, she had a transmission, she had a similar smell that I had once known. Some bafoon had disrespectfully painted her a darker blue and managed to botch overspray everywhere. I noticed a feature here, a feature there, a dent in the same place behind the fender, a crimp in the wheel, a missing trunk latch that could only be opened with a flathead screwdriver. I opened the passenger side door. I could smell 1978 and the confined vinyl that melted in the summer heat. I opened the glovebox to find O'Reilly's receipts from 1999 with my phone number on them. She was my old car. Upon this realization, the man selling her came out to see me scoping out his car and I said, "Where did you get this car." "Some old lady in Nacogdoches." It was her. I drove her for the first time, she didn't have the 400 small block I'd planned on-heck she didn't even have her passing gear engaged, the engine was a mess; a rat's nest on wheels. But it didn't matter, it was like going on a date with your first love.
I brought her home on her own power this time, not on a trailer like I watched her leave me on. She returned to me, she found a way back.
I've had her back since 2004 and I've been restoring her ever since. She's been an everyday driver too, not a show car. It is only now in 2012 that I have begun to put her in retirement to begin making her into a "show car". Her future will only get brighter, and she won't be hidden in a garage and never enjoyed. She came back to me to live, not slowly rot in the darkness.
About “The Brown Bomber”
I bought this car when I was 14 and rebuilt it myself. My dad is a mechanic with his own garage, but he never lifted a wrench to help me on it. He was there to offer advice whenever I asked for it, but that was it. When I bought the car, it had a straight 6 and an automatic transmission on the column, but I converted it to a worked 350 and eventually a 4speed. I changed the steering column to a tilt column I found in a junkyard to get rid of the mounting place for the shift lever. I did a lot of the work at my dad's shop after hours ond on weekends, even painting it there. This was a great experience for a kid raised around cars and a great confidence builder.
Everybody makes mistakes, and one of my biggies was falling for the idea that I wanted to build a second-gen Camaro. I found a '71 RS that looked pretty good that I could afford... if I sold the Nova. Long story short, it was beat to hell. It was a Bondo Buggy! It had taken a hard shot in the back end at one point, to the extent that the body was slightly twisted. The floors were swiss cheese. The wiring harness was just about fried, with several intermittant bad grounds. When I pulled down the engine to rebuild it, I found that it was too far gone to be worth saving. The list goes on and on. To add insult to injury, the guy who bought the Nova beat the crap out of the car, blew the engine and swapped in (as I heard it)something straight out of a yard, and wrapped it around a phone pole about a year later. Hindsight is 20/20, but if I could do it over, I would still have the Nova today. (The T-10 from that Camaro may find it's way into my wagon, though... )
Specs for “78 NO-GO”
Engine size: 5.0ltr, Edelbrock 4barrel,
Top Speed: Never topped it out, fastest I've been in it is about 110, but I estimate it will do around 130-140.
Gear Ratio: Unknown, but mid range - this car catches it's stride in 3rd
Transmission: Automatic (5 speed stick with o.d. is on my wishlist)
Specs for “The Brown Bomber”
Junkyard Chevy 350 completely stripped down and rebuilt by me at 14 years old. I bored it out .040 over, upped the compression to 10.5:1, and went with a mid-race cam. The junkyard T-10 transmission out of an older Camaro was in good condition, and the entire drivetrain took all the abuse a teenager with a brand-new license could dish out. I never dynoed the car, but it did the 1/4 mile in the mid-13s and 0-60 in something under 5 seconds. I never did a top-speed run with it - My dad knew ALL the cops around the area, and if they didn't take my license, dad would have, and the car too!
Factory Options for “78 NO-GO”
This car is a 78, Detroit stopped stamping out an official SS Nova in 76 I think. This car was a grandma's grocery getter...it was plain-jane and boring...I've upgraded everything on the car that you would find in a 75 or 76 SS trim package and therefore since Chevy was too stingy with the SS label in the last years of the Nova, I have taken it upon myself as an enthusiast to make her an SS in all but the sereal number.
Air Conditioning available (temporarily disabled for repairs and upgrades as seen in the engine pic)
Power Steering will be added this summer
Originally had a split bench, but I installed bucket seats from a 67 Camaro. The back seat is a hybrid of a Camaro and Nova backseat.
Factory Options for “The Brown Bomber”
AM-FM mono radio, air conditioning, automatic transmission
Mods for “78 NO-GO”
Here is an account to the best of my memory right now of what I've replaced on the Nova. This doesn't include work or repairs to existing things.
1.) rear bumper filler - ebay $100
2.) tail lights - ebay $300
3.) locks - ebay $30
4.) weather stripping - ebay $30
5.) 6 inch subwoofer - $0
6.) 2 pioneer 6x9s - $0
7.) interior plastic moldings - ebay $120
8.) dome light cover - ebay $10
9.) 74 model Nova plate for dash Bob's Transmission- $5
10.) windows tinted - Latexo $150
11.) carpet - ebay $75.00
12.) camero bucket seats and rear - guy I know's attic $175
13.) toggle switch for windshield wipers - $0
14.) window rollers- Autozone $10
15.) console - Oreilly's $10
16.) brake master booster - Oreilly's $50
17.) Yenko camero sports mirrors - ebay $100
18.) new windshield - Jacky Lewis $100
19.) new Edlebrock 4 barrell, intake, breather, valve covers, sparkplugs, spark plug wires and all the fixin's- Oreilly's $900
20.) core support, power pump and resevoir water jug - Albert's Auto $150
21.) headlight bezzels - ebay $40
22.) door handles - ebay $40
23.) multiple cans of black spray paint for interior and touch up areas - Walmart Oreilly's $100
24.) floor mats - oreilly's $35
25.) new radiator - oreilly's $100
26.) Nova SS badge - ebay $35
27.) blue paint - Jacky Lewis $500
28.) new shocks - Oreilly's $50
29.) cooper cobra white letter tires - Pattons' Exxon $250
30.) Oldsmobile 5 spoke wheels - Jacky Lewis $0
31.) oldsmobile wheel center-caps - ebay $30
32.) dual exhaust (y-ed off) - Tracy's $75
33.) dual exhaust flowmaster turbos (true dueled) - Tracy's $200
34.) misc hoses - Oreilly's $100
35.) Pioneer CD player - Walmart - $95
36.) window felts - Nova Source Magazine - $125
37.) 1978 POS Nova before TLC - Best Catch Huntsville $1500
38.) 1978 POS Nova before I sold it - Some guy in town $300
39.) originally planned 400cu in v-8 plus tranny - $100
40.) motor stand for original engine - Oreilly's $125
41.) valve cover gaskets for original engine - Oreilly's $50
42.) reupholstered split bench - Crockett Upholstry$200 (the buckets were cheaper go fig)
43.) powersteering mechanism -$0
Mods for “The Brown Bomber”
Engine and transmission swap from an inline-6/automatic combo to a worked V-8/4speed. Original radio out, AM/FM/CD in. Custom wheels. Upgraded the trim to the "Rally" package. Bench seat out, bucket seats in. I bought the car when I was 14, did it all myself (with advice from my dad) including body and paint, and it was finished (except for the tranny swap) well before I got my license at 16!
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