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1966 Chevy II Nova

1966 Chevy II Nova
By
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The Chevrolet Chevy II was never anything to write home about. The only thing redeeming about it was that it was the fastest newly developed car in history from start to finish in only 18 months. It wasn't until 1966 that the Chevy II developed a sharp-edged, streamline makeover. The highlights were all cosmetic: squared proportions with a tighter, bolder look, a more aggressive angled grille, "humped" fenders and a semi-fastback roofline. But none of these changes could compare to Norman Legualt's vision who gave the car a nip n' tuck operation that L.A. plastic surgeons would envy. The results were staggering as plain Norma Jean was transformed into the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe. Suddenly, this meek and unremarkable Chevy had developed a rippled tautness, boobs, and an attitude.

I had to ask Norman what the condition of the car was like prior to the reconstruction.

"I first discovered the car abandoned behind the owner's house who used it to travel to school. By the time I bought it, the car was a basket case; 90,000 miles and no engine. Everything had rotten away, holes through the floorboards and firewall, but the rockers were really nice."

"So why were you so impressed by a Jackie Mason of Chevrolets?"

Norman looked at the car fondly. "I always like the body style: short and stubby. It would make a nice pro street model. It has that intimidating look."

We looked at the candy apple red of metal in front of us. I couldn't divert my eyes from it. The colors announced a circus was in town.

"I had it painted twice. It had to be red with a purple engine. Both paint jobs had their own graphics - that's the eye catcher."

"How long did it take for you to restore it?"

"It took four years to restore this car then another 10 years to perfect it to show standards."

"I don't know where to begin," I stated.

"Well, the owner, Todd MacIntyre, had put a small block in, so I got a 355 cubic inch with a 350, a 9" Ford and a 4.56 gear. I took my first ride in September 1991 and drove it till 2001. By then I realized it needed a complete makeover. It took seven-and-a-half years before it came back home from three body shops and another year-and-a-half to finish it completely." Norman paused. "You want to go for a ride?"

Anticipation seized me. I heard the sond of our footsteps. The car's silence, it's majestic stance. The sound of the door opening. A cool sensation of leather uphostery. The door shutting. A deeper silence, all sounds of the outside stilled, before the key turned. The engine turned and a rumble emerged from the depths of a dark cave. A sound that I'm sure could have been heard in the next county. It was alive and I couldn't turn off my grin.

It was little wonder that kids ran to catch up like it was some modern Pied Pipper (or a supped up ice cream truck). Teens and adults stopped whatever they were doing and stared with dumbstruck smiles on their faces. "Is it difficult to drive?"

"People I take for a ride are always surprised that the car feels so smooth. I have a wheel alignment problem but I'm working on it." We look for interesting sites to photograph the car at.

"Has the previous owner seen the work you've done on it?"

"I went to show the car to Todd years later. He was at an arena playing hockey. I waited for him, but he didn't recognize me at first and I asked him if he remembered what his car looked like. When he saw the transition, he couldn't believe his eyes."

The number of people that helped Norman comes off like an Oscar thank you speech. "If it wasn't for Doug Brown, I would probably have a street machine. He taught me about all the mechanical work involved." Others that Norman is indebted to are Carl Amyot for the welding of the frame and roll-bar/cage, Dalkeith Collision owner, Gerald Lauictoire, for the first paint job. Machinists Mark Dewar, Donald Jackson, and Jonathan Villeneuve (who also did Norman's exhaust system that look like emerging torpedoes). George Semlainoi took care of the electronics while Mr. Cars', Mark Cuiclerier did the second paint job. Bertrand Body Shop Supply in Cornwall sponsored some Dupont paint while Rheal Seguin took care of the Trany. Interior fittings covered by Claude Mayer and John Gagnon. And Guillaume Bordeau for the engine's fine-tuning. "Guillaume is such an amazing expert. Lest I forget, Lorraine for her patience and support."

I then asked what parts took the longest to restore.

"Everything I started was a long process because I'm too particular. I'm absolutely meticulous in what I do. A good job is a complete job. Every part was smoothed out seamlessly and easy for me to clean, even down to the brake pedals." The engine is so clean and stunning I could eat off it. I inquired what the hardest part is to maintain.

"The hardest thing to maintain is to keep it clean. It takes hours every week - all summer long! But it's worth it, I'vewon Best Motor, Best Interior, Best Paint, Best of Show, Pro's Pick, and NSRA Pick. That's why I call her SHOW TIME."

We park by a wall mural to finish off the photo shoot. "To have a car of this caliber is a dream come true. I even drove it to the East Coast Nationals in Moncton, New Brunswick and to Lake George in New York State. The other satisfaction I get is the people it has enabled me to meet. I mean, we never would have met. Everywhere I go, people think that I put it on a trailer. I tell them that I drove it and they are astounded. It's the same when I tell them I do around 17 to 18 miles to the gallon with an engine that produces 590 horsepower. I've discovered that it's about more than nostalgia, it's about having fun and meeting people."

I really enjoyed Norman's company and he left me with the impression that passion is the freedom to live life as you choose. And Norman's car is some passion worth living for.