1972 Nova SS was an educational experience
During his high-school years, Mark Knecht spent many a summer day in the shipping department at Imperial Printing in Des Plaines. While his rambunctious peers were out enjoying their June, July and Augusts, Mark kept at it, looking forward to the day his hard labor would pay off.
The teen cared little about the workings of the publishing world but instead was very invested in socking away his earned cash, planning to use it to buy what he really wanted: a muscle car.
Mark's dad, Conrad, was a crucial part of the whole process, being Imperial's vice president and getting his son the job. His father even found the desired car in June of 1976.
"Dad was coming home from work and saw this red 1972 Nova SS, boasting a 'For Sale' sign," recalls Mark, who later went with his pops to Mount Prospect to check out the ride. Mark gleefully plunked down $2,150 and was the Chevy's proud new owner.
The high school junior was excited but also unaware, not knowing yet how to operate a manual transmission. "Dad had to drive the car home," Mark said sheepishly. Thankfully, a big brother graciously spent the next couple of weeks teaching him the ins and outs of manual shifting in the family's South Barrington subdivision.
Once Mark had the clutch figured out, he was ready for senior year, cruising to his classes at Fremd High School in Palatine. "One of my pals had a white '69 GTO," Mark said. "We'd typically be going cruising together to downtown Palatine, meeting up with other friends."
After graduation, he was motoring in the SS to Harper College as well as his new job at the Harper Mobile gas station, located at the intersection of Route 62 and Roselle Road. "We had a couple bays where we did tuneups," Mark said. "They came in handy during my off hours to keep the car running right."
The car's previous owner had installed some performance modifications, like traction bars, gauges and exhaust headers. Mark added to that, bolting on Cragar SS wheels he bought from local speed shop, Grand Automotive in Des Plaines. Because he daily drove the Nova, all the added parts weren't purely for speed.
"Through the winter I'd be driving, so I made sure to get a set of good snow tires," he said, recalling how he used them to the fullest driving through the area's 1979 blizzard.
Having enough of that, in 1980 he bought a new Chevy Blazer 4x4, keeping the Nova reserved for nice summer days only.
"For some reason, I just always hung onto it," Mark said. In 1991, he had the car fully redone, stripping the body to bare metal, replacing a rear quarter panel and repainting it all in factory correct Cranberry Red lacquer paint.
After 42 years of happy ownership, Mark has fully learned that hard work truly is rewarded. And when the prize is an SS Nova, that makes the lesson all the more sweet.
• Share your car's story with Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Buy his book at COPOthebook.com.