1974 Chevrolet Nova
There's no doubt the hobby of building cars is a great one to share with your family. It gives kids a good work ethic and can keep them out of trouble. Gerry Gaida and son Ron had been knocking around the idea of building a car together, but it wasn't until Ron was in his 30s that they could do it.
Gerry was knee-deep in the world of cars when he was shipped out to serve in the Vietnam War. When he finally got back, it was time to build a family, rather than cars. He raised three boys with his wife and served as a law enforcement agent for the U.S. Army until he retired six years ago. He and Ron had talked about building a car together for years and now was the time. They found a California-born rust-free '74 Nova and began the build together. Though it was rust free, it wasn't damage free. The grille was cracked and needed to be replaced. Like most folks, they weren't huge fans of the massive heavy bumpers of the '74 model, so they replaced them along with the grille and hood with metal from a '72. What's better than buying a '72 Nova? Buying a '74 for half the price and converting it to look like a '72
The father and son team did all of the customization and assembly work themselves, but left some things to the experts. Anyone who's dabbled in the art of automotive painting knows it's a difficult thing to produce at home. After the '72 panels were fit, they took the car over to Factory Finish Auto Body in Lindenhurst, Illinois, to get covered in Black Cherry paint.
They frequent the car shows, but also like to stretch the Nova's legs at the dragstrip. Their low 11-second timeslips prove their MAS Performance 377ci small-block Chevy crate engine was a great investment. It runs on pump gas and is a well-mannered street car, thanks to reasonable engine components. Despite that, they've got the engine out for a solid-roller camshaft swap and a more race-style torque converter for more power and better launches.
By The Numbers
1974 Chevrolet Nova
Gerry Gaida, 64; Ron Gaida, 39
468 hp, 11.44/114-mph quarter-mile