Badass Custom Nova Grabs 100 Grand at Record-Breaking Mecum Auction
Hardcore hot rod enthusiasts take pride in having the ability to “call” or predict the positive impact on fellow gearheads (typically in the form of lustful salivation) that new builds will have the first time they’re shown to the masses.
HOT ROD senior editor KJ Jones, a self-proclaimed master of that skill, knew this 1972 Chevy Nova, which recently debuted, and sold, at Mecum Auctions’ 2023 opener in Kissimmee, Florida, was a grand slam home run the second he laid eyes on it. The car, built by S S Classics Motorsports of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, was three years in the making, and it definitely is a fine example of a project that was well-planned and perfectly executed.
Although Super Sport, COPO, and Yenko 1968-1972 Novas are included in Chevrolet’s muscle car hierarchy and are frequently seen at Mecum auctions, they’re still not as sought-after as first-generation Corvettes or SS Camaros and Chevelles of the same time period. Which begs the question: Why does this custom, yet non-pedigreed example hit so hard?
A combination of visual aesthetics, led by an arrow-straight body bathed in a hot Jaguar color, flush-mounted, trimless front and rear windshields, and the meanest stance we’ve seen from a street-borne third-generation (’68-’74) Nova in a long time, are the car’s immediate “wow” qualities. And then, after you’ve picked your jaw up from the floor, seeing the C6 Corvette powerplant beneath this hot rod’s hood endears you to it even more.
There are also subtle, as well as in-your-face nuances throughout the car’s interior and exterior, all of them tastefully implemented. The tricks definitely boost the Chevy II’s cred as a high-quality build, and it’s a car that clearly is intended for driving—in a straight line or through corners—and looking good while doing so. Based on its makeup, we don’t have any doubt this custom Nova is a blast to cruise in.
Bidding was spirited at Mecum’s kickoff show, which shattered 2022’s record with $234 million in sales, and the price for this custom piece grew to a reserve-busting $97,000. With Mecum’s “buyer’s premium” (commission) included, this beautiful street Nova sold for $106,700.
Follow the photos for more insights on this slick whip.
Also a Big Hit Online
HOT ROD’s rank and file apparently agree with KJ, as our video of the Italian Racing Red (a Jaguar color) ’72 Chevy Nova crossing the block and hammering for big bucks exploded to the tune of 565,000 social-media views in five days.
LS Power … of Course
There’s no standard small-block 350 in the immaculate engine compartment of this slick coupe, nor is it big-block powered. The Nova’s modern performance comes in the form of GM’s 6.2-liter LS3 V-8, linked with a 4L65E four-speed automatic transmission. The stock, naturally aspirated powerplant is rated at 495 horsepower and 477 lb-ft of torque.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About LS, LSX, and Vortec Engines
Baby’s Got Back
The rear of this 1972 Chevy Nova presents a blinging chrome bumper, 255/40R17 Cooper tires, a fuel tank, and only a glimpse of shocks and dual exhaust. This simple appearance is the mark of a hot rod being perfectly lowered. And in this case, mini-tubs, a Heidts “Wide-Tire” four-link setup, and coil-over shocks were used to achieve the perfection.
Interior Treatments (Front)
Inside the Nova, hand crafted front bucket seats are covered in premium charcoal leather with red stitching. The steering wheel is also finished in leather, and a custom center console incorporates cup holders, the shifter for the 4L65E automatic transmission, and stereo and HVAC controls. Yes, this hot rod has heat and air-conditioning … and it works. New glass was also included in the build.
Interior Treatments (Rear)
A similarly appointed rear bench seat completes the Nova’s interior.
Hints of a Vette
Corvette “crossed-flag” badges are found on the Nova’s center console, door panels, and outside on both front fenders. They’re the only hints to the C6 heartbeat that powers this cool hot rod.
No Junk in This Trunk
This finished trunk is more “luggage compartment” now, with custom upholstery and a sport-touring attitude.
Speed, rpm, mileage, and the LS3’s fluid and voltage vitals are monitored by a new digital gauge display.
What’s Up Front
A Heidts “Pro-G” tubular suspension with rack-and-pinion steering anchors the front of this cruising machine, lightening it and giving it good handling characteristics, too.
Built Right Down Below, Too
Ford’s stout 9-inch rearend catches all of the engine’s horsepower and torque, which is transferred from a 4L65E four-speed automatic transmission via a body-color driveshaft.
Double-adjustable (compression/rebound) coil-over shocks are major contributors to the Nova’s wicked stance, and we bet they make this hot rod ride well, too.
Big Brakes on Board
12-inch Wilwood brakes sit behind each wheel, adding confident stops to the Nova’s overall performance makeup.
Rubber Meets the Road
Two 235/45R17 Cooper tires in the front complete a “stagger” with the aforementioned 275/40R17 in the back. Though not completely atypical, the front tires are wider than the boots that make a traditional “big ‘n’ littles” package, and are a good choice for better handling on the street. “SS” center caps for the 17-inch wheels are a nice touch.
Love the Louvers
Although louvers don’t serve any mechanical purpose on this fuel-injected hot rod, they look cool installed in the Nova’s hood, and are a cool homage to the Super Sport models.
What’s in a Name?
Depending on who you believe, the Nova almost experienced a name change not too long after the Chevy II’s rebranding. Why? When separated as two words (no va), Nova means “no go” in Spanish. Legend has it that because of the name, sales in Mexico and Venezuela were poor, which (understandably) gave GM bean counters in Detroit great concern and had them considering another new identifier. As one word, by definition a nova is a star that shows a sudden large increase in brightness and then slowly returns to its original state over a few months. We couldn’t find a GM historian to confirm this, but we think that’s the true origin of the name for Chevy’s cool compact-economy car of the late 1960s and early ’70s.
Related: The Chevrolet Nova—History, Generations, Specifications
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