Home-Built Hero: Frank Serafine’s Gorgeous ’63 Nova

Finding the perfect foundation from which to build a project car requires different things for different people. Some enthusiasts want a foundation that doesn’t cost a lot of money — they don’t mind putting in the elbow grease. Some try to find the best car they can in order to have a solid starting point. The selection of the latter usually means a larger outlay of cash to start with, but having a solid foundation, to begin with is worth a lot to many people.

Frank Serafine of Rochester, New York, has seen his fair share of budget-oriented-project beginnings. The blustery winters in the northeast part of the country are not forgiving on sheetmetal. Salt on the roads can really wreak havoc on a car’s support system underneath. But, he wanted a starting point that was above average. That meant finding something local would be difficult.

Nova

In 2004, Frank found the little Nova in the condition you see. It was definitely a solid foundation to start.

First Generation

“After a one-year search, I finally found this car on eBay,” says Frank. That was way back in April of 2004. “The previous owner had restored it to factory condition, and since I wanted a solid Nova to start with, this car fit the bill,” says Frank. The original [rebuilt] 194 four-cylinder engine was still in the car, and a Powerglide transmission backed the half-a-V8. It did have a few luxuries, like power steering and power brakes.

It actually gets driven roughly 10 to 12,000 miles a year. – Frank Serafine

Some guys might have decided to simply enjoy the car in its restored condition, and Frank did for a few months. However, some enthusiasts like Frank, like their hot rods…well…hot. The shoebox was pulled into the garage, and a Total Cost Involved (TCI Engineering) front subframe was installed, and a Ridetech air suspension was slid into place to drastically alter the car’s stance with the flick of a switch. The rear parallel leaf springs were cast out and replaced by a Ridetech four-link setup, and a 9-inch rear was given the nod to replace the factory unit.

“For the next ten years or so, my wife and I attended shows and cruise nights with the car in this “first-generation state of completion,” says Frank. However, the hot-rodding bug started pulling at his conscience, and he felt it was time to make a few more upgrades. “I call this the second generation,” quips Frank. “I added a FAST multiport EFI, Silver Sport Transmissions TKO 600 transmission and hydraulic clutch, and a few other ‘necessary’ upgrades.”

Nova

Generation two in progress

Second Generation

The body also received a little attention at this time. Frank installed two new quarter-panels he got from Golden Star Auto, added mini-tubs to the rear, and a new trunk lid and taillight panel were also put into place. Frank also smoothed the firewall. Once the new metalwork was complete, B&C Auto Restorations sprayed the body with the current two-tone paint.

Nova

Tunes are courtesy of Pioneer and Rockford Fosgate, and the stock Nova seats have been fitted with TMI Products foam to add some bolstering.

The 383ci small-block still resides under the hood and delivers reliable performance thanks to a SCAT crankshaft and connecting rods, SpeedPro hypereutectic pistons, and a final compression ratio of 10.5:1. Residing within the confines of the rotating assembly is a COMP Cams hydraulic roller with a mild valve actuation of .576/.571-inch and holding them open for 230/236 degrees (at .050-inch). Perched above the pistons are Dart Iron Eagle heads and an RHS intake supporting the aforementioned FAST 2.0 multiport EFI. Frank told us the engine has plenty of power and is a great engine for cruising.

Some guys prefer a manual transmission, and Frank is one of them. That’s why he chose to replace the Powerglide with a TKO 600. Finally, a 9-inch rear with an Eaton Truetrac differential and 3.70 gears give Frank an abundance of enjoyment while behind the wheel.

Internal Work Of Art

When you take a look inside this shining shoebox, you’ll notice the seats resemble the stock pieces, but something looks a little different. Frank took a set of seat foams from TMI Products and adapted them to his stock Nova buckets. Carls Auto Seat Covers created the vinyl and cloth seats and the Saddle Tan carpet is from Trim Parts. If you’re trying to decipher where the console originated, you can thank Classic Truck Consoles for that creation.

It might have taken multiple design upgrades (generations) for Frank’s Nova to achieve the level of show-stopping hot rod he now enjoys. But, with the help of his wife and many friends, we’re certain the upgrades are probably not complete. Regardless of whether he decides to make more changes in the future, for now, Frank Serafine definitely has one cool cruiser.

“The car is a “daily driver” during the non-winter months,” says Frank. “It actually gets driven roughly 10 to 12,000 miles a year.”

Photo gallery

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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.
Read My Articles

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