Story: Jonathan Millstein
Photography: Josh Mackey
Through the years, the family car has become, frankly, boring. Fuel economy, mundane styling and mass production have all taken their toll on the once handsome family cars of decades past. However, this 1967 Chevrolet Nova was built not only to pay homage to the Nova’s heritage but also as a vehicle worthy of family trips.
When this ’67 first entered J-Rod and Custom of Auburn, Washington, back in 2011, the thought process was that typically a build of this caliber would take around two and a half years. But work was halted in favor of another project for the car’s owner. Nevertheless, he never swayed from his desire to one day have his coveted Nova. “He kind of told me it was a car he wanted in high school and never got,” says shop owner Jared Hancock. With that nostalgia as a driving force behind the build, the team at J-Rod spent four years making it happen.
Turning the dream into a reality was no easy feat given the condition of the Nova, which had been purchased on eBay. “It was a good 50-footer, where you’d look at it like, ‘All one color, looks good, has some decent components on it,’” says Jared. At a crossroads of whether to clean up the purchase or strip it down and see what they had, the car’s owner opted for the latter. “There was a road sign riveted to the quarter panel with bondo over the top of it, the floor was bondoed top and bottom—it was just horrible,” Jared says. It was this discovery that sent the build from some paint and other upgrades to the extreme frame-off rebuild it eventually became.
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As uncovered by the discovery of the “horrible” body condition, adjustments are made on the fly when it comes to builds of this magnitude, but the main goal remained from beginning to end. “He wanted a car that would be pretty timeless, and he didn’t want to get carried away with something too trendy,” says Jared. Take one glance at the car and it’s clear the customer got exactly what he desired. “The interior was just a twist on the original, and [we] bolstered and sharpened everything up, but the basic design is ’67 Nova,” explains Jared, adding, “and everything on the outside was sharpened and crisped.”
Throughout the build, Jared and his team kept in mind the car’s need for family use. “He’s got three kids, so it was important to him to be able to throw the kids in the back,” Jared says. Because of the need to have suitable room in the back, they weren’t able to get “too crazy” by aggressively tubbing the rear. Unlike the styling aspirations, “family use” certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but if the owner’s weekend chores are any indication, it would appear the Nova is working out just fine.
“He sent me a picture the other day at Costco, just out driving it around,” says Jared. That’s one badass grocery getter.