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California Drag Car: 1968 Chevrolet Nova

The third generation of the Chevy II/Nova was introduced in 1968 and it was an instant success.  Production increased by more than 70% over 1967 and would continue to grow as the car evolved through 1974. The Nova was still the upscale version of the auto, although it would replace the Chevy II moniker altogether in 1969. We don’t know how this ’68 Nova started life, but it turned into a hit on the drag strip in the 1970s and 1980s. This hot rod is in Sarasota, Florida, and is available through a dealer here on eBay for $22,000, or you can make an offer.

The VIN and cow tag don’t tell us much about the origins of this Chevy. The body code identifies it as a 4-door sedan, so perhaps the tag was lifted from another car. What we do know is that this Nova has been owned by the same party since 1970, perhaps the John Couch whose name is on the door. A Google search doesn’t turn up much on that name. Said party bought it on a California pink slip back in the day. It was drag-raced on the West Coast for several years and even in the NHRA Winston Series, competing in the Super Stock K Automatic and Super Stock K Automatic categories. It also spent time in the AHRA Grand American Series running for the money in the Formula 2 H Automatic Class.

After its heyday in racing, we’re told the car was stored in a garage until 2022. The seller goes into great detail as to some of the modifications that were made to the Chevy to turn it into a winner at the drag strip. That included over-boring its 350 cubic-inch Turbo-Jet V8 and adding some lighter weight components inside the engine, like the pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, and so forth. This set-up is paired with a 2-speed Powerglide with a 1.96 low gear ratio.

The cowl tag suggests the car was painted gold, to begin with, but we’re not sure. Both the exterior and interior are covered in either green or stickers or both. While the seller says there is a spot of rust in one of the rear quarter panels, the passenger side front fender seems to have a touch of it, too. The materials that were used to recover the seats aren’t close to anything that would have been stock. We’re told this Nova runs great, so would you buy this car to go racing again or take it in another direction?

Comments

  1. Steve Weiman

    Very cool and interesting piece here. Possible scenario: car was a raced as a 255hp 350 class car and that engine combo was not available and 68. For some sanctioning bodys The car would have to be dressed as a 69 to be legal. It has a 69 steering column, body tag and various emblems. Possible explanation for the 68 VIN# and the above modifications.
    This car is a great representation of the era, a very homebrew car. Although it certainly doesn’t exhibit big money in today’s world this would not have been a super cheap build back in the day. It has money only where it’s needed to win races, some of those Drive train pieces were not inexpensive for the time.

    I really smiled at the Val Hedworth decal :)

    Someone has got to buy this and put it back on the strip for fun!

    Like 5
  2. Jerry Bramlett

    Cliff’s: mystery ownership trail, state-assigned ’68 VIN on title, ’69 trim tag pop-riveted on firewall, rust damage, hideous color combo, no specifics about performance.

    No thanks. The most valuable thing I see is the differential.

    Like 3
  3. JoeNYWF64

    One would think a race car with a roll cage would have ditched the back seat 1st thing, & have just 1 racing bucket seat for the driver.
    Depending on what class you are in, can you run a GM horseshoe shifter instead of the B&M at the track?
    Since this is a ’68 with a later model steering column, I wonder which ignition switch works – the one on the column or the one on the dash? lol

    Like 1
  4. David Scully

    I can help narrow down some ID info for the real diggers – the Kimball & Smith Machine/Construction on the quarter panels says it is in La Mesa – a suburb of San Diego located east of San Diego State University. The car had to race out of town as the Ramona drag strip and Carlsbad were on their way to closure, leaving Orange County Raceway as the only option into the early ’70s. Sure would like to know what kind of e.t. & mph this car was capable of running…

  5. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Summon the spray cans.

    Like 2

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