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1971 Chevrolet Nova SS

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Warren and Jason Oakland – 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was surrounded by a plethora of muscle cars from the Big 3 and American Motors. Some of the more memorable models include the Camaro, the Firebird, the Charger, the one named after a cartoon, ah yes, the Roadrunner, the original “pony car” the Mustang, the Torino, the Javelin, the Maverick, the Chevelle, the “gutless” Cutlass and the Nova! Recently, I had a chance to talk to an old friend about how he and his son went about restoring this 1971 Chevy Nova SS! The Nova was a very popular model because it had a roomy engine compartment that allowed easy access to the motor, the styling was nice and you could get one for a reasonable price.

Warren Oakland told his sons that they could both have a project car that he would help them build. Soon his oldest son, Jason, got stuck on a Chevrolet Nova! When Jason was a sophomore in high school he found a 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS. The car was “just a shell” Warren said. No motor, transmission or interior. This car was prime for a rebuild.

When they brought the car home, they started by cleaning the car up and getting it ready for body work, an engine and a transmission.

Warren and his boys, Jason and Justin, found a “bare block” out of a 1979 Corvette at Sehr Performance in Sioux Falls. Warren said that they purchased the 350 block and all the components to rebuild it from Sehr. They would open a box and place each part in the engine and slowly, the engine was assembled. When I asked if they had rebuilt the engine to “factory spec’s” Warren laughed and said, “not quite to factory spec’s.” He admitted that they had used a roller cam that would be more durable and take more punishment than the original as well as other non OEM parts. Once the engine was rebuilt and put back in the car with a manual transmission, the car was put on hold for quite a while. Warren recalls a time that his boss, Brad, came out to his house. They put a little gas in the tank and it fired right up! Warren said that he was driving the car while sitting on an upside down bucket for a seat! Then the car went back into the garage and was put on hold again. Warren fired the engine up for me and you could hear the rumble of the motor. It gave me that feeling of excitement that you only get from a muscle car that wants to run!

Warren and the boys started to work on the body and realized that taking the car down to the bare sheet metal was not necessarily the right idea! Having stripped about half of the car, they realized that it created an opportunity for rust to set in! They sprayed a fresh coat of “rattle can” primer to prohibit rust!

About that time, Jason graduated from high school, and life proceeded to occupy Jason’s time and money, so the project remained on hold for some time.

Years went by and the project sat in the garage without progress. Eventually, Justin, Warren’s youngest son, said it was time to either finish the project or sell it as it was. Warren agreed and called Jason about getting the project going again. Jason indicated that he wasn’t in the position to put more money into the project and his Dad said, “I’ll help you out with that” and the project was, once again, on the front burner!

“I’m not a body man and I’ve never professed to be a body man!” Warren told me. So they took the car to Black Widow Customs, in Freeman, SD. The cost he could live with. “Ah, Warren said, it is worth it, for my son.

Black Widow picked up where the Oakland boys left off! Fresh Victory Red paint with clear coat shines like a new fire truck! One really nice feature that Black Widow added was a clear layer of film along the rocker panels, all the way from the back of the front wheel well to the back of the car, to prevent rock chips! You can’t see it unless you know it’s there and it’s a great way to protect a paint job on any car! All of the SS badging is in place, even though it was all missing when the car was purchased in the late 90’s. The interior was all restored almost completely to the way it rolled off the assembly line. The SS models had bucket seats, but there were none to be found. Warren said that he couldn’t find the buckets that belonged in the car. So, they put a bench seat in. Warren says that his wife, Karen, thinks the bench seat is more comfortable anyway.

Jason lives in New York City now and is an executive at Gama Air. He is a licensed pilot and quite capable of flying the Lear jets that the company owns. Gama Air is an alternative to commercial airlines, for those who can afford to pay for their services.

The Nova resides here in Sioux Falls with Warren and Karen. They keep the insurance up on the car year round and Jason enjoys driving his toy when he visits in the summertime. Warren said that he had put the car in a car show four days after he picked it up from Black Widow. “The paint wasn’t even dry yet!”   If you’re driving on Sycamore Avenue, near 10th street, you may see this beauty parked behind TMA. That’s where Warren works and he enjoys driving it to work occasionally!

 

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