When John Parsons started his '67 Nova project in the spring of 2000, he didn't really expect the car to evolve into what it is today. He just wanted a cool ride, and knew that to get there he would have to do it himself, or do without. Over the years, he learned to do a few things quite well, like welding; but he also learned that he had no future as a paint and body guy. He tried, though, and that's the most fascinating aspect of this build. It's about how one guy managed to build a car of this caliber in his garage through sheer force of will. We asked John what sparked his desire for this project, and he says, "I've owned a lot of cars, and while I can forgive a lack of horsepower, I despise poor road manners in my vehicles. It's always the first thing I change. I've tinkered with springs, shocks, and sway bars, but for this car I wanted to really get into it and build something more challenging. I read various catalogs that sold complete replacement clips for Novas, but thought that would be too easy. I wanted to bend, grind, cut, machine, sand, and weld metal-especially weld. I can't explain why, but welding has always been magical to me. It isn't a huge exaggeration to say that II Much was just a reason to learn to weld."

Cars like II Much don't just pop into existence. The path from brainwaves to pavement is riddled with mistakes, triumphs, and surprises. Anyone who has built a car like this can relate to the experience, and those who have feared to dive into a project of this degree can learn that it's not impossible, it's just hard. Follow along as we touch some of the high (and low) points of John's journey.

Hitting the Track
I arrived a bit early, and nervously looked at the autocross course at the Lake County Correctional Facility. (If you get out of hand, the sheriff can arrest you right there!) We went through the course walk-through, the driver's meeting, and the warm-up.

My first run was laid back, and I concentrated on making sure I did not get lost on the course. The car felt fine, braked well, and did OK with a 45.7 on my first run. The next three runs netted improvements, with a best of 41.2 on the last. I didn't pay much attention, but I actually won the Novice class, which consisted of 12 other cars, two of which were new Corvettes.

My assessment after that was that the Nova had too much body roll-especially in the back-and that I was doing too much trail braking. I was especially unhappy with my brake pedal linkage, because it was binding.

Fast-forward to the Year One Experience at Road Atlanta. I had just spent the week fine tuning the QA1 shocks to offset the body roll, and I also adjusted the linkage on the brake pedal to prevent it from binding at high pressure. After being so early for the autocross the previous week, I was trying not to be nervous this time. When the A group came back in, we (B group) were broken into four groups of five cars, and my subset was routed to the far right, which meant we were the last ones out. No passing was allowed, but we were told if we kept together, we could go as fast as the slowest car. Every two laps, the pace car would signal us to roll the order around. The car behind him would allow the other four cars by, and then drop in at the back. Off we went in pursuit of the other cars.

A Lotus was first, and we increased speed until it seemed to have trouble keeping up. He rolled around to the back and we went a bit faster, passing two of the other groups. When it was my turn, the pace car driver seemed to relish running away from me, but I caught him quickly. It was a blast following his line, working the brakes, finding the apex, turning in, and then allowing the car to drive out to the edge of the corner. We passed the other group ahead of us, and my car was working great. After I rolled to the back of the group, I fell behind on the back straight so that I could push the car nearly full throttle through Third and Fourth gears.

I came in only to be greeted with bad news: I was black-flagged due to exhaust noise. A nearby church had complained, and there is a local noise ordinance on Sunday mornings. My track day was done.

The postmortem assessment: the brakes worked great and the steering was fantastic. The best thing was that the car felt "pushed" down on the track, and there was not a hint of oversteer. A few times I felt the inside front tire lifting slightly, which means I need more rear sway bar or rear spring for next time. My power steering got a bit chunky in the pits at the end, so I also need a more capable power-steering pump, and my brake-pedal linkage still needs tweaking.

It was exhilarating to feel the suspension work as it was designed, with the brakes keeping the car safe. The acceleration of the 427 LS2 was awesome. Seven years of preparation went into that scant 30 minutes on the track, and it was worth it. My plan is to make more adjustments to the car, and give it another go at Sebring. The car is finally done, and now I'm gonna spend some time at the track!

WHERE THE
MONEY WENT
Raw materials: $9,500
Tires: $1,400
Wheels: $4,200
Lug nuts: $110
Brakes: $3,700
Engine: $13,000
Clutch: $1,500
Transmission: $2,200
Rear: $1,900
Springs and shocks: $850
Fuel delivery: $1,200
Interior: $9,200
Gauges: $1,100
Cooling: $750
Paint and body: $16,000
Fasteners: $5,500
Glass: $900
Interior trim: $1,700
Exterior trim: $450
Door handles, window cranks: $180
Wiring: $850
Locks: $125
Steering column: $200
Steering wheel: $250
Wheel disconnect: $160
Weather stripping: $600
Battery holder: $170
Battery: $160
Fiberglass bumpers: $300
Rocker panel: $150
Doorskin: $90
Dash insert: $160
Fabrication (approx. 4,000 hours): free
Total: $78,555
THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH
BUILD-UP TIME LINE:
APRIL 2000: begins Nova. Morrison chassis and bare body into garage
AUGUST 2000: firewall, floor, trunk, and rear wheelwells cut out of car
SEPT 2000: chassis welded to body
JAN 2001: purchases first engine, first transmission, fabs motor mounts, first trans cross member
APRIL 2001: installs new firewall
JUNE 2001: finishes first set of headers. Joins Pro-Touring.com
OCTOBER 2001: finishes first exhaust
AUGUST 2002: floors completed
OCTOBER 2002: makes first fuel tank
NOV 2002: sells old TIG welder, meets Brian Schein
MARCH 2003: makes second set of headers
APRIL 2003: makes second fuel tank
JULY 2003: makes third and final fuel tank
MAY 2004: new front suspension done
NOV 2004: new rear suspension done
MAY 2005: "I Did It My Way" front suspension build-up story in PHR
OCTOBER 2005: "Bringing Up The Rear" rear suspension build-up story in PHR
DECEMBER 2005: floors redone for suspension
JANUARY 2006: inner fenderwells done
FEB 2006: final LS2 engine done
MARCH 2006: finishes wiring
MAY 2006: car assembled, starts engine, fixes leaks
MAY 2006: moves to Florida
JULY 2006: migrates to FAST XFI engine controller
AUGUST 2006: car painted, finishes wiring ...again!
SEPT 2006: installs front and rear glass, gets title and insuranceHometown Hot Rodding engine photo
OCTOBER 2006: PHR runs John Ulaszek's Hometown Hot Rodding engine photo
APRIL 2007: interior done. Car completed
MAY 2007: hits the track!
SEPT 2007: Parsons' Nova in PHR and inspires thousands…
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