The formula was a good one: take a lightweight car like the Chevy II and stuff it full of small block V8. This 1962 Chevy II (also known as the Nova) is a road-ready example of that formula in action, and it offers a host of upgrades and a top-flight restoration to make it a first-class cruiser with a ton of eyeball appeal. And yes, it's got a 4-speed manual gearbox too!
Subtle colors help give Chevy's compact a bigger presence, and you're probably not going to see this one coming until it's too late. They're not big cars, which is why they're so potent out on the road, but in dark colors you have no choice but to treat them with respect. The sinister, deep black paint and bodywork on this car was done to an incredibly high standard and remains in excellent condition with only 1321 miles on the build, there are really no signs of use to speak of. It's not a perfect trailer queen that should be sealed away in a museum (although I would rate it as a show-quality classic), of course, but if you like to drive, there aren't many better Bowties for the job and there's a reason the Chevy II was always a favorite of drag racers. The steel underneath is laser straight and shows off near-perfect gaps, clearly showing that when the work was done, they took their time, and the tasteful pinstriping on the hood and deck lid add a touch of sophistication to this black beauty. Nice chrome and brightwork, including the factory grille, bright bumpers fore and aft, and finned rocker panel molding, give it just enough flashy contrast to get some extra attention as you go rolling past.
The interior is extremely well done too, offering new upholstery and carpets throughout, all in red to perfectly complement the car's miles-deep black bodywork. Period correct low-back buckets up front are in fantastic shape, as is the matching rear bench, and the rest of the interior is on the same high level and pretty much sticks to the factory recipe. The door panels are stock and look untouched, an aftermarket 3-spoke steering wheel was swapped in for some added pop, and the fresh red carpets on the floors are protected with black 'Bowtie' carpeted mats. The floor-shifted 4-speed Muncie manual gearbox has a Hurst Comp shifter with a cue ball knob and it's a lot of fun to rack it through the gears and hammer down on the gas pedal. The factory gauges cover the basics, but an AutoMeter tachometer was neatly strapped to the steering column and a trio of aftermarket dials hang underneath the dash. Just above that gauge stack is a factory-style A/C unit from Old Aire Products that pumps extremely cold R134a air throughout the cabin. An upgraded retro-style AM/FM/cassette radio lives in the center of the dash and seat belts were added up front for safety. The back seat was upholstered to match the low-back buckets up front and the super-clean trunk carries a correct mat, a full-size tire, and a relocated battery inside a dedicated tray.
Factory Nova's didn't come with V8s until 1964, but nevertheless, the powerful LT-1 small block V8 that was swapped into this lightweight car looks as if it always belonged. Donated from a 1970 LT-1 Corvette and utilizing authentic finishes and equipment combined with some polished and chrome dress-up pieces, it has a great period performance look with modern horsepower on tap. Upgrades include double hump heads, a Comp cam, Edelbrock intake manifold, Holley 4-barrel double-pumper carburetor, and an HEI ignition system. So it's not just pretty, it has plenty of pop too. The Muncie M21 4-speed manual transmission is plenty tough for V8 duty and channels power to a 10-bolt rear end with 3.73 posi-traction gears, borrowed from a 1964 Nova wagon. Sanderson shorty headers feed into a burly Flowmaster dual exhaust system that gives it a sinister voice and you'll note that the chassis really is in nice shape with clean floors and lots of new hardware, including strut-rod conversion kit with a 1-inch sway bar up front, and multi-leaf springs with adjustable drag shock out back. Shiny Ralley wheels really fill the wheel wells nicely and keep the '60s performance look and carry 195/70/14 front and 225/60/14 rear BFGoodrich T/A white-letter radials.
This is one mean little Chevy II with a ton of firepower on tap. If you like the promise of light weight and heavy horsepower, all wrapped in a show-quality package, then perhaps this car deserves a much closer look.