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1966 Chevy II Nova Restomod

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A tale of personalized revival.


For many car enthusiasts, customizing a car is a profoundly personal journey, aimed at achieving a singular vision of automotive perfection. It’s a journey of metamorphosis, where every modification is a reflection of the owner's personality and preferences. The transformation of a 1966 Chevy II Nova restomod exemplifies this ethos, with owner James Harris and Lakeside Speed and Shine in Arizona meticulously crafting a vehicle that is unique to Harris’s vision and passion.

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James Harris embarked on this project after encountering issues with the Powerglide transmission of his well-preserved Chevy II Nova. Initially envisioning a subtle transformation, Harris aimed for a simple LS swap and a mild cage. However, his aspirations evolved, leading to an elaborate six-and-a-half-year endeavor that reshaped the car into a full custom masterpiece.

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The reimagined Chevy II Nova houses a revved-up 454 LSX V8 engine, revealing a plethora of performance-enhancing modifications, including new pistons, rods, cams, and cranks, boosting the output to an estimated 800 horsepower on pump gas. Power is seamlessly transmitted to the rear wheels via a Hughes Performance-built GM 4L80-E automatic transmission and a robust Curry nine-inch rear end.

This automotive marvel flaunts its roots with a hydrographic treatment on the intake and valve covers, spotlighting Las Vegas-themed graphics—a nod to Harris’s personal connection to the city. The design choice is a reminiscent emblem of Harris's experiences and marriage in Vegas, a city where he once resided.

“This one I was building basically for myself…it doesn’t matter how it looks to anybody else because I’m building it for myself,” Harris expresses, emphasizing the personal nature of this build.

To manage the augmented power, the Chevy II Nova is fortified with a TCI independent front clip with Ridetech coilovers and a TCI four-link in the rear. The renovation also saw the integration of substantial new metalwork to replace parts affected by rust, further solidifying the car’s resilience.

Inside, the Chevy II Nova melds aesthetics with functionality, featuring a mild roll cage and harnesses, juxtaposed against a striking red upholstery that accents the gray cage and dash, blending vibrancy with a subdued elegance.

The 1966 Chevy II Nova restomod is a captivating illustration of automotive artistry, embodying the intimate relationship between an owner and their vehicle. It stands not just as a testament to technical prowess but as a personal emblem of James Harris’s journey, memories, and aesthetic sensibilities. Through this build, Harris and the team at Lakeside Speed and Shine have breathed new life into a classic, creating a timeless piece of automotive individuality.

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