My Favorite Ride: This Nova Goes

August 22, 2013 

The car: 1962 Chevrolet Nova convertible

The owner: Larry and Noni Masengale, Merced

1. What are the key features of your vehicle? ZZ 350 engine, Thumper cam, gear drive, Holley 650, serpentine belt drive, hugger headers, 2.5-inch exhaust, Flowmasters, aluminum radiator, dual electric fans, five-speed, Heidt's subframe, coil-overs, 11-inch disc brakes, rack and pinion, Painless wiring, Church Boys leaf springs, Eaton positraction, 3:73 with disc brakes, Vintage Air, PUI interior.

2. What did you have to do to get it in its present state? I acted as contractor, Ken's Classics in Livingston did all the work including the paint. My idea was to make it look like — but drive better than — the muscle cars of the 1960s. This is the way I think General Motors should have done it. Even with all the changes and updates, the Nova still appears stock except for the sound. The cars were designed to combat the popularity of the Ford Falcon.

3. What else do you want to do to it? Drive it until the wheels fall off.

4. How did you acquire your vehicle? I found it several years ago on Craigslist in Los Angeles.

5. Why did you pick that particular vehicle and what do you find appealing about it? My son-in-law had two or three of them and kept selling them. I wanted to get one for myself so I found this one. I love the simplistic lines of the car, plus it's a convertible.

6. What started your love affair with cars? When I was very young my grandfather had a wrecking yard in Wasco. I loved to play in the cars and collect the keys. I have always loved old cars. Automobiles used to be a work of art! They just don't make them like that anymore.

7. What advice would you give others about starting such a project? Get your head examined, then buy one that's already done. You will save a ton of money, plus doing a car cuts years off your life. Just ask anybody who has ever done one.

8. Do you have any other collector vehicles or project cars? My wife and I have a 1947 Ford coupe street rod, 1951 Ford two-door sedan street rod, a totally stock, fully loaded 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air two door hardtop, a 1959 bug-eyed Austin Healy Sprite my wife has owned since she went to school, a 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne two-door sedan, and a 1973 Corvette Stingray convertible with a big block and a four-speed.

9. What's your favorite memory about this ride? I have two: Driving it back from L.A. the night I purchased it. It was not mechanically sound, still had the stock six-cylinder engine, small wheels and tires and the front suspension was basically shot. It would hardly stay up with traffic. When a truck would pass me the Nova would do a lane change. It was the white-knuckle grip all the way home especially over the Grapevine. My wife followed me to pick up any pieces that might fall off and to give me a ride if it broke down. A few years later after the car was completed, we got a people's choice award at the Nova Mini Nationals in Pleasanton.

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