As car enthusiasts, we all dream of one day finding a pristine classic hidden in a barn with nearly zero miles on the odometer. Yes, it does still happen. However, more often than not, the car sitting in the barn is rusted beyond repair or unfortunately ends up being a car that is not really desirable. Many times, however, we do find our next project sitting in a back yard or a field, succumbing to the ravages of mother nature. She can wreak havoc on a classic hot rod with no protection.
Our story about this ’69 Nova starts out like many, as Benjamin Spotts’ dad happens to have found the car residing in a field. It had been an unwilling participant of a chance meeting with a rising drawbridge. “This car was actually parked in a field, twice,” says Benjamin. “The first time occurred when the owner was able to collect an overabundance of traffic tickets. It was saved from that first parking solitude by another person who actually tried to “beat the rising of a drawbridge”—he failed.
After the second field-bound hiatus, the car was eventually purchased by another gentleman, and Benjamin’s dad, Marlin Spotts, eventually bought it from that person. When Marlin located and purchased the car, Benjamin was a mere lad of 1 year old. Marlin knew the car would eventually make a great project for him and his son—when Benjamin got a little older. After several years of being parked in the Spotts’ garage, the young Spotts lad was finally getting to the ripe old age of five or six. That’s when the senior Spotts thought it was the perfect time to get started. Sure, Benjamin might have been hardly old enough to fully understand what was happening, but you can never start too early.
The first task on the list of many was to assess the damage to the frontend. The fenders, hood, and windshield were chalked up as unusable. Remember the rising drawbridge? Surprisingly, Benjamin says the rest of the car was in really good shape. “There wasn’t any major rust,” he says. “We repaired the wheel lips on the quarter panels, replaced the taillight panel, welded shut a few holes in the trunk someone installed for a trunk-mounted battery, and replaced the front fenders and hood.”
When the senior Spotts found the car, it was missing the original engine and transmission. That’s unfortunate, as this is a true-blue big-block L78 car. Yes, Marlin had located a real big-block Nova. According to Benjamin, “Although the engine and transmission were long gone, it was a solid project car with only 61,000 miles on the odometer.”
The Spotts duo could have done a perfect restoration on the car, but since the original drivetrain parts were missing, they were given some leeway during the rebuild process. For that reason, a 427 cubic-inch monster was built. Inside the behemoth is a forged Eagle crankshaft with Eagle connecting rods and JE Pistons. Rotating under the cast, oval-port heads, the rotating assembly creates an 11.0:1 compression ratio. Definitely on the ragged edge of being pump-gas friendly. You’ll also find a hydraulic-roller camshaft from COMP Cams actuating the—as Ben puts it—large by huge valves. In case you’re wondering about horsepower output, it’s somewhere between stock and holy crap. You decide.
Behind the mill is what almost ever muscle car enthusiasts hope his or her ride possesses, a four-speed transmission. The M20 Muncie is a legend, and Benjamin’s is rowed with a Hurst Competition Plus shifter. As you might expect, the tire-turning duties are achieved with a 12-bolt rear, and it’s filled with a posi unit and 3.55 cogs. Not only is the old girl a blast to drive around town, but we’re certain the 3.55 gears make it a bearable drive on the highway as well.
Inside this tribute to day-two ingenuity is a testament to classic styling. Upon further inspection, it looks factory fresh, thanks to Legendary Auto Interiors. No frills here, as the factory AM radio is on place, and the air conditioning works flawlessly each time the car is moving with the windows in the “down” position.
The underside of this blast from the past is all old school. Braking is handled by factory disc and drum binders, the front suspension is stock, and the rear suspension features ladder bars and Hurst drag shocks. It might not be built to handle the twisty roads, but a more fun ride will be hard to find.
The Spotts men are the epitome of hot rodders and together, have built one cool machine. What’s next for Benjamin and his Nova? We have to believe that many miles of enjoyment are on the agenda, and what better way to accomplish that than with a big-block Nova?