This modified 1968 Nova is nothing like Chevrolet first intended with a whole host of custom mods and a widebody finish like no other!
The 1968 Chevrolet product line for high-performance buyers featured Corvettes and Camaros and with powerplants that included 327s (Camaro), 350s, 396 and 427 powerplants. Power and performance, that was the scene with the “muscle car” era running at full peak speed! This story story isn’t about the ‘Vette and the Camaro, but rather revolving around the “little brother” Nova, the small Chevy that perhaps didn’t get the same amount of attention, however it could be a real performance contender as well when equipped with a hi-performance engine.
1968 Chevrolet Nova history
A little history of these third-generation cars, all-new body in 1968, with the styling continuing unit the end of the 1972 model year (the ’73-’74 cars received big, massive, front and rear bumpers). Novas rode on a wheelbase of 111-inches, with this new body redesign incorporated smooth, rounded lines. The “Chevy II Nova” (no longer with Chevy II markings after 1968) now featuring a semi-fastback roof design and only 2- and 4-door sedans were available.
Small-block V8s could be had in 307, 327 and 350 cubic inch sizes. New to the line in ’68 was the fitting of a big-block (396-cid) V8 engine in “Super Sport” trim. This top performer was the L78 version, rated at 375 horsepower. Featuring 11.0:1 compression, rectangular ports, solid-lifter camshaft, Holley 780-cfm four-barrel on aluminum intake. The 12-bolt rear axle could receive optional 4.73, 4.10, 4.56 and 4.88 axle ratios, automatic and 4-speed transmission choices. If one knew about this option, it was a true “sleeper” as compared to the flashier Corvettes and Camaros, a serious and potent performer!
Of all these of this generation the ’68 was most unique as it still incorporated the “old school” ignition key in dash design (others were anti-lock column mounted) and that feature gives it a real feel of a vintage ride from the ’60s.
Original modifications on the 1968 Chevrolet Nova
The back story of this feature car is that it belonged to a customer of JBA Speed Shop, San Diego, CA, and it had received a number of high-performance modifications and enhancements. Included in the work was a complete from subframe replacement kit, tubular A-arm front suspension, front coil-over adjustable shocks and rack and pinion steering upgrade. On the rear, a complete “FAB9” rear axle assembly from Chassis works was fitted, along with an adjustable sway bar and adjustable coil-over shocks. The brakes were updated with Wilwood discs front and rear.
Under the hood was a big block Chevrolet of 454 cubic inches, and the induction system came from Vortech, a complete supercharger system (centrifugal design) that included a V-7 YSi turbine with 3.33-inch 10-rib pulley, supported by a beefy 1/2-inch billet aluminum mounting plate. A Holley HP EFI Multi-Port system (rated at 1000 cfm capacity) supplies the fuel, mounted atop a Holley single plane aluminum intake. A pair of aluminum Edelbrock heads were included in the build, and internally the powerplant is equipped with 9:1 forged pistons and Comp Cams Hydraulic Roller Cam (.520/.539 lift, 288/294 duration) Spark provided by an HEI distributor and exhaust by Doug’s Headers. A potent and reliable engine that also has major league eye appeal!
Power is put to the tarmac via a reworked 700R4 4-speed automatic, routed to the 9-inch rear end (Ford type) that has 3.25:1 gearing, ideal for street cruising. This car handles stops and performs with impressive results, and with all that, the owner next got the urge to give the stock body some more flash, and that would include some seriously enlarged wheel openings that would house some sticky, new, wider 20-inch rolling stock With the rumble of that supercharged big block, and the huge rolling stock, the custom one-of-a-kind Nova is everything but inconspicuous everywhere it goes!
A Restomod that the owner wanted more
How did this body upgrade come about?
The car owner had surfed the Internet and came across an automotive “keyboard designer” named Rostislav Prokop, who hails from the Czech Republic, and this dude goes to the extreme in dreaming up wild creations! A black 1969 Nova was one of his video presentations, complete with music, and it was a real eye-opener for the customer to visualize that his Nova could be the recipient of such a wild and radical “wide body” conversion! And when he approached JBA Speed Shop about doing this type of “surgery” on the car, they looked over the video, made some photo copies detailing the concept, and agreed to do it right their in their shop!
Of course designing a car with a keyboard and mouse is a different assignment than actually doing a rear car, and the staff at JBA was able to determine the car on the video had some unrealistic features (such as 30-inch wheels and a channeled body section) and advised the customer that in order to get the work done and actually be able to drive the car in and out of driveways, be able to steer the wheels lock to lock and have clearance for suspension travel, well, it’s not going to exactly have the appearance as seen on the computer screen, but will certainly incorporate the general flavor of the rendering. And in the end, JBA Speed Shop was able to turn “pixels” into sheet metal “reality” and it is a true one-off design.
JBA Speed Shop does it all!
Who did the actual custom fabrication and design work on the wide body conversion? Inside the walls of JBA is a special metal fabrication team of Dallas and Jesse Patterson, and this father-and-son duo do magic with sheet metal and conceptual automotive design! Dallas’ experience work in the art of car design includes being a clay stylist at the famous Chrysler Pacifica Advanced Design Studios, and son Jesse has been doing metal work and related since the age of 13! Talent overflow with these craftsmen!
What’s unique about this JBA Speed Shop is it’s really a one-stop shop of all things high-performance, along with custom car-building capability! Sure they sell headers and manifolds, superchargers, EFI upgrades, camshafts, all that. Oh and they also build complete pan to carburetor (or supercharged!) engines, and test them on the dyno. Yes they have two chassis dynos for tuning and evaluating cars and trucks (even off-road race trucks!) as well as mounting tires, selling tires and wheels, hi-speed spin balancing, four-wheel alignments, yikes, just about every thing under the sun, and including restorations of classic cars. Add in the ability to create, as example, this one-of-a-kind widebody Chevrolet Nova, well you’ve got a place that seemingly does it all!
One would have to go back to the era of the Barris shop, Larry and Mike Alexander (Detroit), Bill Cushenberry, Deal Jeffries, Darryl Starbird, those pioneers and others that did magical work with metal in creating customs and show cars back in the day. But the neat thing is, JBA Speed Shop can still do it today.
With a large fan base in Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, “Rostislav Prokop” is an Czech automotive designer / graphic visualization artist that does up concept cars on video, and with time-lapse of the magic he produces with his mouse. His 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS / AMERICAN MUSCLE rendition was an inspiration for the build, and while not an exact representation, the car JBA built was a working, realistic version that allowed for wheel / tire clearances as well as full turning radius. His work can be view on YouTube. Website: www.artstation.com/prokop_designer