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updated: 8/13/2012 11:38 AM

Chevy II Nova becomes six-year father/son project

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  • 1966 Chevrolet II Nova

      1966 Chevrolet II Nova
    Photos Courtesy of Prestige MotorCar Photography

  • Tyler Dziedzina admires the Nova shortly after it was brought home in 2006.

      Tyler Dziedzina admires the Nova shortly after it was brought home in 2006.

  • The Nova's cobalt blue and white interior glows at night when illuminated by LED lights around the headliner.

      The Nova's cobalt blue and white interior glows at night when illuminated by LED lights around the headliner.

  • A new V-8 engine and beefed-up suspension make the Nova a high-performance car.

      A new V-8 engine and beefed-up suspension make the Nova a high-performance car.

  • Tyler and Gerry Dziedzina of Palatine prefer the longer lines of the 1966 Chevrolet Nova compared to later models.

      Tyler and Gerry Dziedzina of Palatine prefer the longer lines of the 1966 Chevrolet Nova compared to later models.

  • The Nova's factory six-cylinder engine was yanked in favor of this LSX V-8 crate motor.

      The Nova's factory six-cylinder engine was yanked in favor of this LSX V-8 crate motor.

 
By Matthew Avery
Special to the Daily Herald

The idea for Gerry and Tyler Dziedzina's radical 1966 Chevy II Nova street machine came suddenly to them, at of all places, the family dinner table.

"When my son Tyler was in the seventh grade, he simply blurted out 'Dad, let's build a Nova'. Before I could ask how or why he knew of Novas, my wife said she thought it would be a great idea for a father/son project," Gerry recalled.

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Mom's approval was their green light. Within days the two were off to track down a suitable candidate before she changed her mind. The Dziedzinas, who originally began looking for one of the plentiful 1969-71 models, altered their focus when a '66 two-door became available. The Palatine residents quickly decided to snap it up, realizing they both preferred the boxier styling and "longer lines" of the '66 Nova.

However, the car was far from perfect. "The body was OK but the floors had rusted out," Gerry said, "and the driver's seat had a single bolt holding it in and a brick underneath to keep it raised."

Once the vehicle was rolled into their garage in September of 2006, the duo set about taking it all apart, beginning the six-year, father/son project.

"Tyler did most of the disassembly. This was the one time he could demolish something and not get in trouble," Gerry said.

The massive teardown was followed by a decision on the direction to take with the Nova. "Our vision was for a performance street rod with a custom look. This was, after all, a car a grandma would drive and we definitely wanted to change that image."

No doubt granny may have preferred the unpretentious factory-bestowed inline six-cylinder engine, but the guys felt a modified LSX V-8 crate motor would be just the ticket to wake up this Nova's straight-line potential. Boosting engine performance was simple; getting that power to the road was no easy task.

"The biggest hurdle was the integration of the Tremec five-speed transmission and mating it with the engine and a hydraulic clutch," Gerry said. They needed to devise a way to get the hydraulics to work with the stock clutch pedal originally designed for a mechanical linkage. After some effort and with assistance from David McCoy of McCoy's Auto Creations in Galesburg, the setup was installed and functioning properly.

The next area to be addressed was in the handling department. "These Novas are known for a weak suspension and we wanted to bolster it up dramatically." TCI front and rear coilovers were installed, with a four-point setup out back, to make sure this classic hugs the road and doesn't let go. Stopping comes by way of Wilwood disc brakes, hidden behind American Racing Torque Thrust Wheels.

The father/son team decided they were not done yet; the ho-hum cabin was given a wild facelift.

"A stock interior was just not going to cut it," Gerry said. The muscled Chevy was taken to Andy Laird in Milan, just south of Rock Island, where the transformation to begin. When the car emerged, all of the panels, seats and carpeting had been covered in a showstopping white-and-blue color scheme. For an ultra-trick nighttime illumination, blue LED lights were integrated in the headliner.

The cobalt interior complements the exterior Impulse Blue paint -- a 2006 Pontiac GTO color, sprayed on by McCoy's shop.

This blue super Nova is truly rewarding to both of the Dziedzina men.

"The most satisfaction is truly the time spent with my son. It was worth every penny spent and every minute invested," Gerry said. "We got to know each other and enjoyed the hot summers turning wrenches and learning about cars."

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