1962 Chevrolet Nova - Reader Ride

By: Steve Nally, Photography by: Coventry Studios

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Left starry eyed by touring car legend Norm Beechey's Chevy Nova, Jim added one to his shed five decades on

Some things leave a lasting impression on a young bloke.

Back in the ’60s Jim Luccario was courting his first wife when he took her to a racetrack and saw the great ‘Stormin’ Norman Beechey drifting his Chevy Nova II through a bend, with his elbow on the door and one wheel in the air.

Five decades later Jim added this bright red 1962 Nova II 400 coupe to his collection, which also includes a worked 1983 Ford Bronco XLT, ’28 Ford Roadster hot rod, ’55 Ford F100, 2008 HSV Maloo and national concourse-winning ’65 Thunderbird that he owned for 32 years before reluctantly selling 18 months ago.

You could say the 76-year-old has an eclectic taste in cars.

Jim giving it the berries.

Jim bought the Nova from a mate who imported it six years ago and he’s been slowly restoring it since.

"It’s a California car and it was pretty straight," he says.

"I’m guessing it had a paint job in the States, the top of the car was originally white. It had new bumpers fitted before it was exported and I just gave it a good polish and clean up. There’s no real rust in the car."

In 1962 base model Novas – which were classed as an ‘economy compact’ – left the factory powered by either a 2.5-litre four or 3.2-litre six, not exactly guaranteed to get your adrenalin up.

Nova has a wide stance.

To get a hot Chev V8 buyers had to stump up more than half the base price of the car for a dealer-installed Corvette 327 and so the Nova SS 327 was born.

Jim’s Nova is not an SS but there is a 327 under the bonnet and he’s done a lot of work on it. After dropping the sump recently he was surprised to discover that the original block is a rare four-bolt version.

Mods include Edelbrock heads, manifold and rocker covers, Holley 650 carby, new pushrods, roller rockers and cam followers, a "decent" camshaft and new exhaust system.

"I got a sparky to go through the car and fix all the wiring and it’s got a new starter motor and battery and a new heater core; it looks pretty respectable under the bonnet now," Jim says proudly. The transmission is a Turbo 350.

A lot of horses live in there.

Jim’s put plenty of sweat and cash into the brakes and suspension too.

The original four-stud, drum-brake axles were replaced by a disc-brake Camaro front end and a ’64 Nova drum-brake rear end with five-stud hubs and rims upsized from 13 to 15-inch diameter.

With a boosted dual braking system the Nova stops a helluva lot better than it would have in 1962. The suspension’s had a bath too with new shocks, ball joints, coils and bushes.

Although the Nova II 400 model was regarded as more upmarket, particularly the two-door convertible and pillarless hardtop coupe versions, the spartan interior still reflects its budget position in the 1962 Chevrolet lineup.

But a shiny new dash with modern Auto Meter instruments and updated (FM-capable) Chevy radio add some gloss to the body-coloured cabin of Jim’s Nova, and his view from the driver’s seat is dominated by a classic two-spoke steering wheel and a large Pro Tach nestling at the base of the A-pillar.

Bench seat and a spread of gauges, '60s style.

Jim’s Nova is 61 years new but Jim admits he’s finally slowing down and his wife’s recent illness has meant less time in his workshop.

"I’m halfway through restoring the F100 and that’ll take another two or three years and that’s pretty well gonna see me out," he shrugs.

"I did have plans for this little car, I rather like it, but things are gonna move on especially when you get older. I’m 76 and starting to feel it."

And so, the Nova must move on to a new home too and it’s currently for sale for $64,500.

Visit the link here at tradeuniquecars.com for more info.

From Unique Cars #482, August 2023

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