Neglected Nova Given Second Chance

This car is well named. A Nova is a star that reignites after having lain dormant for years and now shines brightly. For this 1964 Nova, moving from the shadows of the backlot to the bright lights of the winner’s circle was a trip fraught with difficulty. Since very few can transform napkin sketches into trophy winners, it takes the right combination of perseverance and craftsmanship to achieve the goal. Choosing outside talent is always a challenge, and even with careful research, things can still go wrong.

Wayne Eden is an insurance company owner in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and an active automotive enthusiast who enjoys a diverse collection of cars and bikes. One of his latest is this ’64 Nova, purchased on eBay. He always loved the styling of the car and planned to make it a fun driver for local cruise-in events. Unfortunately, the plan went south when the car went to a shop that was less than satisfactory. The Nova languished on the back burner and the work that was accomplished was done poorly.

It’s always a difficult decision when it’s time to pull a car, but, fortunately, Eden found the right alternative. He had already been working with Ed Nash of Chassis Crafters in Daytona Beach, Florida. The two shared an interest in motor scooters and Nash had restored a couple of Eden’s bikes. The quality of his work made it an easy decision and Eden asked Nash to retrieve the car. The horror story began when Nash arrived at the shop. What had been a fairly complete car when it was delivered was now 32 boxes of parts with sheetmetal repairs that were done poorly. In order to unravel the basket case, the Chassis Crafters’ team started the project from the beginning, spending two years to create this ultimate Nova.

Although it is obvious that this elegant ’64 has earned a prime place on the podium, the initial plan for the rebuild was simply to create something fun to drive. As work progressed, however, the car began taking shape as more subtle upgrades began to appear. It didn’t take long before the decision was made to create a restomod, paying homage to the car’s ancestry while infusing it with state-of-the-art technology. Although original might have its charm, driving 50-year-old technology isn’t that much fun.

The transformation began with modern front and rear clips. Over the years, Nash has sorted out the suspension challenge, knowing that the right blend of comfort and handling was the key to success. A long-term fan of Detroit Speed (DSE), Nash bolted in the DSE front clip with tubular control arms and dropped spindles based on C6 Corvette geometry. The DSE QUADRALink and antisway bar hold a Ford 9-inch rear equipped with 3.91 gears. Sounding like alphabet soup, coilovers from JRi Shocks team up with DSE springs for handling while PBR six- and four-piston disc brakes exert modern clamping pressure. Forgeline 18-inch ZX3P rims (18×9 front, 18×10 rear) and Nitto Invo rubber (275/35R18 front, 295/35R18 rear) got the chassis rolling. A new stainless 16-gallon tank from Rick’s Tanks feeds the hungry V-8.

Once the chassis could roll, it was time to make it fly! Prior to installing the new V-8, special attention to the engine compartment began with a sculpted firewall, bead-rolled inner fender panels, aftermarket hood hinges, custom paint, and carefully routed wires and hoses, all designed to showcase the crate LS1. Purchased from Car Forms in Savannah, Georgia, the V-8 was fitted with LS6 internals and features an Edelbrock Street Tunnel Ram-based intake, customized by shaving the factory lettering, removing the casting flash, and painting it to match the block. Both the intake and the valve covers were ball-milled to catch your eye. The engine runs LS6 aluminum heads along with Detroit Speed stainless steel headers, a four-into-one merge that fits within the tight confines of the engine bay. Chassis Crafters completed the 2.5-inch, TIG-welded stainless steel exhaust, routing the pipes around the new suspension and incorporating MagnaFlow mufflers for an authoritative performance rumble. The transmission is a TREMEC TKO 600 five-speed, strong enough to handle the power of the new engine.

When it came time to blend power with luxury, the body modifications were as subtle as they were elegant. Fit and finish is always the primary concern, with every seam carefully gapped before the car leaves the shop. The rocker panels on the Nova are unique, running the full length of the car rather than stopping at the door. Both the new fuel filler door and the Kindig-it Design Spoon door handles were flush-mounted. The license plate opening in the front bumper was filled and the slightly protruding subframe was covered with a handbuilt lower spoiler as a stylish solution. The flat hood was chosen over a cowl-induction version as a simplified design choice and H-4 headlights and LED taillights provide modern illumination. All the stainless and chrome was redone by Advance Plating and reinstalled with the exception of the Chevrolet script, deleted from the front and rear.

One of the themes that prevail at Chassis Crafters is finding a secondary color and subtly matching key elements to it. In this case, the Forgeline rims came in a light shade of gray. In keeping with the theme, all the other accessories—hood hinges, engine block, the panel for the taillights, etc.—were painted to match. The primary color on the car is the distinctive shade of Burning Brick from Axalta Hot Hues, a premium basecoat/clearcoat mix. Nash lays down six coats of clear to ensure there’s plenty to remove during the cut and buff process.

The stunning interior begins with metalwork that formed the new dash, now sporting Dakota Digital VHX gauges and Vintage Air Gen IV A/C. The bottom of the dash was extended to cover the vents, an ididit column holds a Billet Specialties wheel, and sound deadening was applied throughout the car. The stunning upholstery work was accomplished by Shannon Walters and Ricky Howard from Alexander City, Alabama. Nash provided a rendering and lead fabricator Howard added his own talents and imagination. The seats began as slim ’66 Nova Super Sport seats that provided the framework. Howard used Saddle-colored Relicate leather to stitch the front and rear seats, center console, and door panels, matching everything perfectly. His handiwork also extended to the trunk, outfitting the Nova with a classic set of hand-stitched luggage. The new center console holds the controls for the Nu Relic power windows and the truss-design shifter from TREMEC along with the Rockford Fosgate head unit. It controls the 1,000-watt JBL amp behind the back seat and the six JBL speakers throughout the cab.

Now that the car is complete, the power, handling, and the entertainment of this brightly shining star make it the perfect choice for a memorable cross-country journey. With just 27 fresh miles on the odometer, both the builder and the owner are eager to introduce the car to the show scene. We’re also certain that owner Wayne Eden will be behind the wheel of his sparkling new Nova at every opportunity.