You only need an inspired creativity and $20,000 to build a stunning classic vehicle.
There are only two types of readers in automotive car websites: those who own cars, and those who don’t. Most readers for sure are present or future car owners in search for the latest and hot topics about classic cars, and on the other hand, some readers are just contended to read because their money is not enough to build or buy the car that they wanted. But there’s no need to feel bad about it, thanks to Mike Cosculluela of Englewood, OH. He’s not going to give you money but his story may inspire you.
Mike has a 1972 Chevy Nova and he didn’t buy it. Back when he was in junior year, there’s a ’70 Nova that he’s been infatuated with. Every time he goes to his high school, he always sits on the right side of the bus just to have a glimpse of it. He told his dad about that car, and then his father bought the car for his mom. Since it was too fast for her, Mike ended up being the lucky guy to have the Nova.
Mike tried to imitate the Nova he saw during his days as a paperboy by painting his car in his garage and installing a new engine. After the modifications, he used the car throughout his high school. Years passed and he still has his first car. He also have a ’69 and ’71 Nova in his collection. It already sounds like a happy ending, since he’s already contented with what he had. Unlike your favorite childhood fairytale, there was some kind of a spin-off that happened to Mike’s tale. One day, everything’s changed after reading a story in PHR. He saw Chris Gray’s effort for Trans-Am-style Nova in the magazine.
Since Mike’s a big fan of Nova, it ignites his desire to build his own restored car and it is no secret why he knows exactly where to find a perfect subject for a project car. He found a rust-free ’72 Nova as a rolling chassis for $1,500. Mike felt bad about dissecting it because it was too clean. It almost felt like a crime.
To materialize his ambitious plan, Mike called Darrel Uzzel to discuss it. Darrel said that it’s not easy to turn a two dimensional rendering into a three dimensional sheet metal since it might break the car or lose its correct proportions. Mike doesn’t care about what Darrel has to do as long as the result was the same with the rendering. One of the hardest parts was getting the outline of the flares right because the wheel opening follows the radius of the tire in the rendering. Thankfully, the result of Darrel’s effort was perfect.
The wheel offset and body rake are important elements to pull of a Trans-Am vibe for his Nova. Mike installed a RideTech suspension up front after dropping down the back of the car using lowering blocks. The fender flares were built around the wheels and tires after setting the rake of the car. The Nova was looking pretty good with a fresh coat of flat black and a set of 15 inch circle track wheels.
Tough working on a tight budget, Mike found solutions to make it look sophisticated classic road racer by being creative. He used a 2nd generation Camaro’s chin spoiler and a first generation Camaro for the rear spoiler which he modified just to fit in the lid of Nova’s trunk.
Although there’s no detailed information for custom driving lights provided in the original rendering, Mike gambled using Mach 1 Mustang on Nova, he thought that it may look better if he uses it. After finalizing the location of the lights, he cut openings into the grille then he builds a custom support brackets. He also uses alternative ways to make the windshield look authentically racy. So to avoid expensive modifications, he modified the stock windshield. He black out the windshield moldings so you can’t see them, then installed custom hold-down tabs around the glass.
Mike took also a simplistic approach to the power-train to avoid expensive alterations. He installed 350ci small-block Chevy and Holley 750-cfm carburetors underneath the hood. Mike expects an estimated 450 HP for this set up. It sends its torque back to a GM TH350 three-speed automatic and an 8.5-inch 10-bolt rear end. Well, LS motor is usually the first thing to cross your mind but it doesn’t fit for this car.
It looks like a classic race car but it wasn’t made for racing. Mike says that “This car will piss a lot of people off because it’s different. People will say that it’s a fake or call it a poser, but I don’t care what anyone says.” He only did it because that’s the only way he could execute his vision for a car with a tight budget.
So that’s the story of Mike who spends his money wisely to build his dream car. You really don’t need a bunch of money. Even if you only had a tight budget, you only need your friends and have fun building it. Mike cuts grass for a living and he did, you can do it also. While writing this article, it inspires me to build my own… how about you?
Here’s where the money went
1972 Chevy Nova
Paint and Body
Wheels and Tires
1970 Chevy Nova
Type: Chevy 350ci small-block
Block: factory 4.000-inch bore, iron
Oiling: stock pump and pan
Rotating assembly: GM cast iron 3.480-inch crankshaft, connecting rods and 9.5:1 pistons
Cylinder heads: Chevrolet Performance Vortec iron castings with 64cc chambers
Camshaft: COMP cams 218/224-at-0.050 hydraulic flat tappet; 462/469-inch lift; 110-degree LSA
Valvetrain: COMP Cams lifters, pushrods,timing set, valvesprings and retainers
Induction: jegs dual-plane intake manifold, Holley 750-cfm carb
Ignition: Strock distributor, coil and plug wires
Exhaust:Dynomax 1.75 inch long tube headers, sustom side pipes
Transmission: GHT350 trans and 1,500-stall converter
Rear axle: GM 10 bolt rearend with 3.90:1 gears and limited-slip differential
Front suspension: RideTech strongarm control arms, adjustable shocks and air springs; Global West sway bar
Rear suspension: stock leaf springs, KYB shocks, Global West sway bar
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Aero Race 58 Series, 15×8 (front) 15×10 (rear)
Tires: Hoosier 275/501R15 (front), 325/50R15 (rear)