Pro Touring style 1964 Chevy Nova

For The Long Haul

By Nick Licata   –   Photography by Wes Allison

It all started when he was 16 years old; Temple Williams’ dad gave him the old family car—but not just any old car, it was a ’76 K5 Chevy Blazer, and he was given a green light to do whatever custom work on it he could afford. So, in went a 3-inch lift, 34-inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrains, dual glasspacks, and other mods. “I drove that rig until the floor rusted out,” Temple says. “Ever since then I’ve loved the process of taking something old and making it better than stock.”

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006 Full side view of the 1964 Chevy Nova parked on a mountain road with contrasting blue and white paintwork

Read More: Gasser-Style Built 1966 Chevy Nova

Enter this ’64 Chevy Nova. “Back in 2004 it was a gift from my family for my 40th birthday,” Temple explains. “It was kind of a ‘Frankenstein’–partially set up for street racing with a 454 turbo 350 transmission, a Hurst ratchet shifter, and a big dash tach. In 2006 I spun a bearing and decided it was time to build the car as something more street friendly.”

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012 Detailed view of the aluminum reservoirs in the engine bay of the 1964 Chevy Nova showcasing the polished metal against the blue paint

It was during that time restomods were showing up in car magazines, which influenced Temple’s build direction with the car. It was also a time when the Pro Touring movement was gaining traction, and hot rod shops were thriving with most being booked out for months—some for years. Finally, Temple found a shop to take on the build, one with big ambitions of using an out-of-the-box approach that entailed using a C6 Corvette drivetrain and chassis. The front of the car and the entire unibody bottom were removed with a plan to build the car around the Corvette chassis. A lot of pushback from the Nova unwilling to accept the chassis required more cutting and fabrication, forcing Temple to dig a little deeper into his wallet, which eventually put the project on hold. At that point the car sat on steel sawhorses for four years. In 2012, Temple realized the C6 chassis process was no longer financially feasible, so a new plan for the car was put into motion. Temple sent what was left of the car to Dakota Wentz at Star Kustom Shop in San Dimas, California, to finish the build.

018 Front headlight of the 1964 Chevy Nova featuring LED lights and custom detailing in the housing

Wentz, being a former Super Chevy magazine staffer, left the editorial world behind to start his own custom shop. Being around cars his whole life, he was familiar with the early Novas and was able to coordinate with Temple a plan to get his vintage project back on the road using a more contemporary approach than the previous attempt.

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007 Front three quarter view of a 1964 Chevy Nova driving on a mountain road highlighting its sleek design and motion

Read More: Justin Brown’s ’66 Chevy II Nova

Starting where the car left off, Wentz reached out to Art Morrison Enterprises (AME) to purchase a chassis for the car. One minor issue was that AME had yet to build one for the ’64 Nova. No problem. The AME gang did their homework, got some specs, and built a full chassis for Temple’s Nova. The chassis features a triangulated four-link rear suspension with Strange coilover shocks and springs on all four corners. Up front C6 spindles offer a lower stance and improved geometry for performance handling and superior ride.

20 Detailed view of the wheel of the 1964 Chevy Nova focusing on the branding and tire details

Braking comes by way of Corvette 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers up front while the same combination gets the job done out back. A Kugel Komponents underdash booster and master cylinder are controlled by the Kugel pedal assembly and proportioning valve.

009 Close up of the engine showing detailed '364' and 'Chevrolet' branding on blue valve covers in a 1964 Chevy Nova

“Once the chassis arrived, things were moving forward at a nice pace while staying budget compliant. We got into a good rhythm as Wentz and I would bounce ideas off each other when it came to working in some custom bits. I’d come up with an idea and amazingly he would just fab it up and make it work,” Temple says.

010 Side profile of the 1964 Chevy Nova showing the smooth lines and two tone color scheme on a scenic road

Read More: Nick Cincotti’s Asphalt-Burning 1966 Chevy Nova

Once the AME chassis was dialed in, Wentz directed his attention to the engine bay. There, he smoothed the firewall and crafted custom inner fenders and a closeout panel, creating a visually striking home to showcase the LS2 retained from the Corvette years earlier. He then decorated the engine with Holley vintage-script valve covers and custom fuel rail covers that feature the artwork of Craig Nuss. The Kugel Komponents Triple brake fluid reservoir serves its purpose while offering additional eye candy.

017 The gear shift and console area of the 1964 Chevy Nova featuring leather details and a sleek modern design

The drivetrain consists of a T56 transmission ripped from a Dodge Viper and is backed up by a McLeod twin-disc clutch. An Inland Empire Driveline 3-inch aluminum driveshaft sends twist to a Strange 9-inch housing with 3.73 gears, Eaton Truetrac posi and 31-spline axles. It’s a bomb-proof system capable of withstanding anything Temple can throw its way.

003 Rear three quarter view of a 1964 Chevy Nova in blue and white parked alongside golden wildflowers with mountains in the background
Focusing on the exterior, Wentz shaved the driprails and door handles while also removing the body seams to achieve a cleaner appearance. He then crafted a custom grille, front bumper, and spoiler, and cut and tucked the rear bumper to comply with the car’s overall aesthetic. Wentz applied a luxurious coat of PPG Porsche Aqua Blue Metallic, complemented by a black metallic accent body stripe while using the same strategy on the hood and tail panel to give the Nova a more performance-oriented motif.

019 Close up of the custom wheel on the 1964 Chevy Nova highlighting the modern rim design and performance brakes

Read More: Shawn Loos’ 1970 Nova

Dark gray Hot Rods By Boyd Junkyard Dog five-spoke wheels create an aggressive demeanor that coincides with Temple’s vision and offers a menacing look that endorses the no-nonsense presentation he and Wentz were after.

013 Interior shot of the 1964 Chevy Nova featuring modern updates like a custom steering wheel blue dashboard and leather seats

Moving inside, Temple had automotive artist Sean Smith whittle up interior rendering ideas and took those to the crew at Sew Cal Rods in nearby Ontario, California, where, according to Temple, “they absolutely nailed it.” The Mercedes Black loop carpet and black leather interior create a business-inspired environment that corresponds with the Star Kustom Shop–installed 1¾-inch rollcage encasing the ’20 Mustang seats and anchoring the five-point Impact Racing harness.

016 Detail of the climate control system in the 1964 Chevy Nova set in a blue paneled dashboard with vintage style knobs

The custom-painted stock dash houses a Dakota Digital insert and VHX gauges that provide essential engine information in a stylish manner. Meanwhile the Vintage Air control panel and air vents seamlessly blend with the overall interior theme. A Hot Rods By Boyd leather half-wrap steering wheel sits atop a Flaming River steering column and directs the rack-and-pinion steering system. The only thing cooler is the air blown in by the Vintage Air A/C system.

011 Close up of the custom grill and air intake on a 1964 Chevy Nova highlighting the meticulous detailing and vibrant blue paint

Read More: James Wiley’s ’64 Chevy II Nova Project

Temple explains the most challenging part of the build. “It took 16 years to get here, partially due to my monthly cap on expenses. It was a balance between budget and bank account,” Temple says. “By no means is this an inexpensive build, and the final product reflects that. It’s an absolute work of art. Wentz was always keeping the project on a ‘low boil’ and making sure each piece came together and looked just how we had discussed. The reality is that this thing looks incredible and is a blast to drive. It was well worth the wait.”

ACP

 

TECH CHECK

OWNER: Temple Williams, Chriesman, Texas
VEHICLE: ’64 Chevy Nova

Engine
TYPE: Chevy LS2
DISPLACEMENT: 364 ci
COMPRESSION RATIO:10.9:1
BORE: 4.00 inches
STROKE: 3.62 inches
CYLINDER HEADS: Aluminum cathedral port
ROTATING ASSEMBLY: Steel crankshaft, forged powder metal connection rods, hypereutectic aluminum pistons
CAMSHAFT: Hydraulic roller, 0.520/0.521 lift, 204/213 duration at 0.050, 116-degree LSA
INDUCTION: Stock
ASSEMBLY: GM
EXHAUST: Sanderson headers, custom 3-inch stainless exhaust, Hushpower mufflers
ANCILLARIES: Holley vintage script valve covers, custom fuel rail covers pinstriped by Craig Nuss, custom inner fenders and closeout panel, No Limit Engineering aluminum fuel tank
OUTPUT: 400 hp at 6,000 rpm, 400 lb-ft at 4,400

Drivetrain
TRANSMISSION: TREMEC T56
CLUTCH: McLeod twin disc
DRIVESHAFT: Inland Empire Driveline aluminum
REAR AXLE: Strange 9-inch, 3.73 gears, Eaton Truetrac limited slip, Strange, 31-spline axles

Chassis
CHASSIS: Art Morrison Max G
FRONT SUSPENSION: C6 A-arms, C6 spindles, Strange coilover shocks and springs
REAR SUSPENSION: Art Morrison triangulated four-link, Strange coilover shocks and springs
BRAKES: C6 Corvette, 12-inch rotors, four-piston calipers front, 12-inch rotors, four-piston calipers rear

Wheels & Tires
WHEELS: Hot Rods By Boyd, Junkyard Dog with dark gray spokes, 18×7 front, 20×10 rear
TIRES: Nitto NT 555 225/40R18 front, 315/35R20 rear

Interior
UPHOLSTERY: Black leather
INSTALLATION: Sew Cal Rods (Ontario, CA)
SEATS: ’20 Mustang
STEERING: Flaming River column, Hot Rods By Boyd steering wheel
SHIFTER: B&M short-throw, custom stick, Lokar shift knob
DASH: Factory with Dakota Digital insert
INSTRUMENTATION: Dakota Digital VHX
PEDALS: Kugel Komponents
HVAC: Vintage Air
ROLLCAGE: Star Kustom Shop (San Dimas, CA)
HARNESS: Impact Racing

Exterior
BODYWORK AND PAINT: Dakota Wentz, Star Kustom Shop
PAINT: PPG Porsche Aqua Blue, PPG Black Metallic
GRILLE: Custom by Star Kustom Shop
FRONT BUMPER: Custom by Star Kustom Shop
REAR BUMPER: Shaved and tucked by Star Kustom Shop
HEADLIGHTS: United Pacific
TAILLIGHTS: Dakota Digital LED

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of Pro Touring style 1964 Chevy Nova.acp may 2024

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