Turning Back Time With Justin Frank and his Nova

Before getting into Justin's write up on this great Nova, I personally wanted to give a background on Justin. He is what I would consider a well respected photographer in the drag racing community. He is also a photography contributor to E3xtreme as well as a close personal friend of Ellen and I. Below is the write up the Justin provided us about this Nova. 

We have all experienced nostalgia at some point in time in our lives. It doesn't whether it's a song that takes you back to your junior prom & the girl with the curly brown hair or a toy from your childhood that reminds you of the kid down the street. Even the smell that reminds you of spending time with your dad out in the garage. But what about a car, can a car give you nostalgia?

Rewind about 20 years to 13 year old me standing at the edge of the woods watching my dad and uncle pull my dad's old 1974 Nova coupe (my soon to be 1st car) out of where it had been sitting without an engine for the last at least 5 years. At the time it didn't seem special, but little did I know, that car was about to change my world and become my life.

My dad taught me almost everything I know about cars on that Nova. Everything mechanical on the car, my dad and I went through, from building a mild small block Chevrolet engine, to the suspension, brakes, transmission, and rear axle. Spending long days and nights out in the garage to get everything squared away.

My uncles owned an auto body shop and showed me how to replace quarter panels, prep for paint. Grandma even showed me how to do a little bit of upholstery work. I had a lot of memories over the years with that car. It saw friendships form and fizzle away, relationships blossom and wither, it had also seen good and bad times as most of us have experienced both at some point.

In 2007 I ended up selling the car after about 12 years of owning it to cover some outstanding debt from a string of bad luck. All in the span of a year I lost my job, my marriage fell apart and ended in divorce, and I rolled my truck resulting in a bunch of medical bills. I always knew I would miss the car but didn't realize why and figured it could be replaced by something else.

Fast forward to this May and I am up by Lacrosse, WI looking at a 1974 Nova coupe with a mild 350 sbc running a mild cam (unknown specs). This one had an Edelbrock intake & carb backed by a TH350 with a shift kit and a 10 bolt rear with unknown gears running. Still sporting drum brakes at all four corners with some high lift shackles, helper springs, & air shocks out back that The car had been sitting for the last 5 years.

I certainly did not need another car as I already have several, including a pair of project Mustangs, but I couldn’t resist talking to the guy a bit which led to looking it over and then deciding to take it for a test drive. It needs work but it ran and drove decently enough. We agree on a price and did the paperwork.

Five miles away with the title in hand and nostalgia hits me like a sucker punch to the gut and I realized why I missed my first car. Sitting there behind that familiar dash and holding onto that wheel opened a flood gate of memories from my youth that I had long since forgotten about. Memories like sitting on my dad's lap and steering when I was too little to reach the pedals, riding shotgun as dad raced down back roads to get to the hospital my sister was taken to when she was little, Sitting in the garage next to dad and grandpa eating a greasy bar burger while taking a break from working on the Nova, driving aimlessly down back roads with the windows down and my radio/cell phone turned off to clear my head, and driving with friends that I haven't seen in over a decade.

As soon as I got home I called my parents to tell them what I had bought and instantly my dad headed over to look at it. The moment he laid eyes on my new project car he got a faint smirk on his face and a twinkle in his eye and just said "So when are we going to start cracking on it?" That's nostalgia!