Home-Built Hero: Dave Carroll’s ’63 Nova Wagon

We all know how much harder it is getting to locate a good “traditional” muscle car to rebuild. The supply of barn finds is drying up, and enthusiasts have to look at car models other than what some would call a “normal” hot rod. Take, for instance, this cool project being put together at Norcal Garage. Wagons have really begun to gain a large following, and why not? They can be just as cool as a two-door model, and you can haul more stuff.

When we asked why a wagon, Dave Carroll of Norcal Garage affirmed, “They’re uncommon, have three rows of seats, and [it’s] something that my family can enjoy for a long period of time.” Hence the name, Family Time Nova. Dave continues, “I have the ability to put a full modern drivetrain, interior, and creature comforts that will make it enjoyable for everyone. The wagon also has better weight distribution front-to-back over the two-door coupe and four-door sedans.”

Nova Wagon

From humble beginnings, a cool cruiser and race car will emerge. Dave says the car had a little bit of rust and a fender had been replaced at some time. The original 194ci engine and Powerglide were still in the car.

David found the car after putting out an all-points-bulletin to his friends in the Nova world as to what he was looking for. “My buddy and Nova builder, Joe Seeno, knew of a guy who had this wagon sitting in a field and was looking for a better home for it,” says Dave.  “It was also only 40 minutes from my house, so it didn’t take much for me to seal the deal. I’ve always been a Nova guy because I feel the more common cars like the Chevelle, Camaro, and Mustang, are played out.”

The combination of Church Boys Racing and Ridetech parts are sure to make for a fun and gratifying hot rod while driving.

The car had been sitting in a field for more than five years. When Dave got it home, the first thing he did was install a Redtop Optima battery, hook up a makeshift gas can to the fuel pump, and try to hopefully get the engine to fire. After trying to start the car several times, he poured a little gas down the carburetor to help get it running. “I kept adding fuel to the carburetor and it eventually kept running, after the acorns blew out of the out the tailpipe.

“The next day, I took the tires to a local tire shop got new rubber,” says Dave, “I wanted to take it for a test drive and have decent rollers once we decide what we were going to do with it. Within two days of having the wagon home, I was driving it to work. It pulled hard to the right with only one drum brake actually working. However, the engine ran like a top — minus all the fuel leaking between the manifold gasket.”

The project is just getting underway. “We started by taking out the interior to see how the floors looked,” quips Dave. “We found a little rust on the passenger floor, but only on the forward half. I also found out the entire driver-side floor had been replaced. Unfortunately, the work was a little shoddy.”

Currently, the bodywork is nearly complete, and Dave is moving forward. A Church Boys Racing front clip, suspension, and down bars, support Ridetech Shockwave shocks.  The Currie 9-inch rear is supported by a Church Boys Racing four-link, and Wilwood disc brakes can bring this little hauler to an abrupt halt when needed.

In front of the firewall is a salvage-yard-sourced 5.3-liter fifth-gen LT engine. Behind is an 8L90E transmission actuated with a set of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. “I’m planning to add a supercharger,” says David.  Other custom parts include a custom driveshaft, Jongbloed Racing three-piece aluminum wheels, Falken tires, Rick’s Custom Tank, PPG paint, Dakota Digital gauges, Ultimate Headers, Entropy Radiator, Vintage Air, and a bunch of other parts.

Dave’s Nova is an exercise in creating something very cool from a once-overlooked item. We’re certain the Nova will be a hit whether it’s on the racecourse, show field, or simply hauling the family to the local ice cream parlor. Check back in the near future as we bring you updates on this hot-rod hauler.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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