My Journey with a Classic 1974 Nova: Restoring Memories


Since October 1986, this car has been a part of my life. It was my first car, even before I had my driver's license. I remember taking my test in this car, despite its less-than-impressive condition at the time. After passing all the inspections and tests, I finally earned my ticket to freedom - my driver's license.

3rd Owner Charms His 1974 Nova with a Renovation

As far as I know, I'm the third owner of this car. The first owner remains a mystery, but the second owner was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force who brought the car from Texas to Ohio. My dad, a civilian contractor on base, saw an advertisement on the base bulletin board. The officer, who was being stationed in Greenland, couldn't take the car with him, so for six hundred bucks, it became mine.

1974 Nova engine 1000

Above: "The current setup is –385 SBC w / flat tops, Pro-filer 195CC, 64CC chamber, 2.02 /1.60 valves, 1.6:1 roller rockers. Hydraulic roller cam – 240/240 duration @.050 lift, .585/.585 lift. Edelbrock RPM intake (spread bore) w/ modified Q-jet. Th350 w / 9.5” 3500 RPM converter and a 3.42 10 bolt (8.5”) posi unit. Rather than squeeze the factory air back in, I opted for a vintage air unit to give a cleaner look under the hood and easier to work with performance components (AKA. headers). The front wheels are factory 14x6; the rears are custom 15” hoops with a 5” backspace for 275/15 -60’s."

This car, a Nova, wasn't the most popular choice back then due to its big bumpers. However, its unique hatchback design captured my heart. The car was in its original condition when I bought it, but the Texas sun had taken a toll on its faded paint and worn interior.

1974 Nova restoration copy

In my teenage years, my first order of business was to get a fresh coat of paint. Over the years, I searched for black interior components to replace the outdated brown, white, and green color scheme. Discovering the build sheet between the gas tank and floor pan shed light on the car's history, confirming its unique features like the SS package and powerful L48 engine.

1974 Nova at show 1000

After many years of dreaming about hot-rodding the car, I finally started the restoration process in 2020. The interior was stripped, and the mechanical and bodywork tasks were divided between myself and a friend's shop. The goal was not a full restoration but a modern twist on a classic build, maintaining the car's original charm.

1974 Nova spacesaver spare 1000

The car's history unfolded during the teardown - the dealer-installed vinyl top, minimal need for frame repairs, and the decision to make it a daily driver. The body received a fresh coat of paint, and the interior was refurbished using a mix of aftermarket and salvaged parts.

1974 Nova side centric copy

While the car may not be entirely stock, it retains its original essence. The modern upgrades blend seamlessly with its classic design, creating a unique "Day 2" build that pays homage to its roots. Thanks to everyone who supported me through this journey, I finally have the car that my 17-year-old self dreamt of - big bumpers and all.

Gerald Harter

Medway, Ohio