Darrell Efird’s ’67 LS3 Nova: Too Hot to Touch!

Finding a customized car these days is like finding one of those colorful plastic eggs in the middle of a sand box during an Easter egg hunt – not very difficult – but if you’re looking for something that goes a bit further than the “norm,” the scavenger hunt can get a little bit more complicated. You know, like picking up each egg and shaking it just to see if there’s something good in there or not. Lucky for us, we didn’t have to do too much digging to find this gem of Chevy that is extremely deserving of its time in the spotlight. Built by Hat Creek Customs in Salisbury, North Carolina, this 1967 Nova is not just custom, it’s beyond-this-world incredible.

Showcased back in November, this gorgeous classic Chevy first caught our eye thanks to our friends at TCI Engineering. Labeled as a customer’s vehicle, we just couldn’t take our eyes off of all the car’s immaculate details. So we got in touch, asked for names and eventually found ourselves talking to the owner of Hat Creek Customs and the man behind this car’s magic, Mr. Perry Propst.

Images: Jason D. Smith/Pixelcrisp via Hat Creek Customs

Having a dad who was a car builder growing up, Propst told us that he’s been working on cars his entire life.

After landing a job at a hot rod shop just out of high school, Propst was able to put his life-long skills to work, eventually moving on to build stock cars under the same boss who acquired a job from NASCAR.

“Building stock cars for 12 years made it possible for me to start my own shop and now I get to do what I love,” Propst told us.

That dream job certainly aims to impress with custom creations like a 1950 Chevy, 1955 Chevy post car, 1955 Chevy hardtop, 1966 Chevy truck, 1967 Chevy Camaro and a 1950 Ford truck coming out of Propst’s shop. But among all those creations, Darrell Efird’s second-generation Nova has to be one of our favorites.

Every detail, from the screws in the front headlight assemblies to the small bow tie emblem on the back, was thought of and exquisitely executed on this Nova to create one heck of a show-stopping, pro-touring Chevy.

Meant to Be

Efird, the proud owner of this fantastic Chevy, also got his start in cars at a young age and that passion has continued all his life.

“It was just a long string of running and drag racing in high school and it just continued on for 35 years,” Efird told us of his automotive passion over the phone.

While Efird has had other vehicles customized to his liking, including a 1955 Bel Air hardtop and a 1968 Chevy truck, the Nova tops them. Ironically, the car didn’t start out as a full customization project, however.

“We started out fixing the quarter panels and eventually snowballed into a full build,” Propst told us. “The Nova had a lot of rust that contributed to the final decision on the restoration.”

“It was never ‘we’re going to build a super nice street rod,’” Efrid added. The result, however, is just that.

“The more we did to it, the better it started looking,” said Efird. “It kind of got crazy.”

Amazing Aesthetics

With just one look at the car, you’ll notice one major thing right off the bat- the color. A custom mixed Sunburst Cinnamon Pearl color with a House of Kolor base gives the car a unique glow, while Spiral Grey stripes add a unique flare to the hood and sides. The grey stripes are accentuated by silver pin stripes and topped off with an airbrushed “LS3” on the rear quarters. It is that amazing paint scheme that helped the car win the House of Kolors Prestigious Painters Award last year and the opportunity for it to be displayed at the largest aftermarket performance parts show in the country later this year.

Even the striping and airbrushed details on this car have extra details, giving the Nova an exquisite layered look you'd expect of an award-winning Chevy.

Underneath the paint, you’ll find crisp, clean body lines with every gap refinished for the perfect fit. The exterior of the car also features a shaved gas filler and tucked bumpers, as well as ample amounts of brightwork to give the Nova that extra pop.  

Inside, the car is just as gorgeous. Carrying over the Sunburst Cinnamon color of the Nova’s exterior is the the custom steel dash, which incorporates Autometer gauges and a Kenwood DNX multimedia receiver linked to JL Audio speakers.

The unique seats are fully custom, sculpted with frames out of a 1989 T-bird that were reformed to fit the look and feel of the car. A matching center console and door panels tie everything together while an ididit steering column, Billet Specialties steering wheel and Vintage Air climate control system add flair to an already outstanding interior. More creature comforts are found in the car in the form of power windows, power door poppers and power locks.

“All the interior was handcrafted, from the seats to the trunk,” Propst told us. Both Leon Brown’s Custom Auto Upholstery and Hat Creek Customs had a hand in the interior’s final look.

From the sleek steel dash to the unique two-toned seats, the entire interior is handcrafted to a tee.

The Guts and Glory

While we could dote on the aesthetics of the car all day, Efird’s Nova is so much more than initially meets the eye. Under the car, you’ll find a complete TCI setup, including a TCI coil over frontend and a TCI 4-link rear with coil overs, as well as control arms and sway bars from the industry-leading suspension company. Fully welded frame connectors give the setup a firm grasp to the rest of the car while all-wheel disc brakes give the Chevy classic tons of stopping power.

A Ford 8.8-inch Moser rearend supports the Nova with 3.73 gears and 17 x7 and 17×8-inch wheels from Billet Specialties push power to the pavement via 235/45/ R17 and 275/40/R17 rubber respectably.

The Nova's custom airbrushing may give this custom LS powerplant away, but nothing quite compares to popping the hood and taking a look at it yourself.

Providing the Nova with amazing power potential is a solid LS3 engine massaged by Gary Hockins and tuned by PCM For Less. This Chevy powerplant is upgraded with custom LS3 heads, a camshaft from COMP Cams, a specialty intake and a Holley Dominator EFI system. Fitted with a Tremec T56 transmission, the powerhouse is capable of producing a respectable 500hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, strapped between the fender wells by the crew at Hat Creek Customs. 

Final Reactions

“I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out,” Efird told us of the finished product. “It just turned out the way I wanted it.” After nearly two years and tons of work, we’re glad the car turned out to be a dream car.

Crisp and clean, every bit of brigh work adds more to the Nova's aesthetic value, but it's what's behind that shiny metal that really makes the car glow.

As far as Efird’s favorite part of the build, well, that goes to the custom paint color. “You sit in the sun and it’s sparkling and, oh WOW,” Efird elaborated. While paint was certainly first on the list, Efird also mentioned his partiality toward the engine as well. “The Corvette motor made it a whole lot more fun,” Efird admitted.

Propst couldn’t agree more, stating that the whole idea of a modern LS3 in a classic Chevy car was his favorite part of the entire build.

Future Endeavors

With a car as amazing as this Nova, one might expect that it would stay in the family for generations to come, but Efird has different plans. “It’s kind of up for sale,” he told us. “Going to the SEMA Show and stuff will be extremely helpful in selling the car.”

As part of winning the House of Kolor Prestigious Painters Award, Efird’s Nova will make a trip to the 2013 SEMA Show this fall to be put on display in the House of Kolor Booth.  But trust us, if you want a chance of owning this car, you better get in line now because we have a feeling that there will be quite a few show-goers interested in buying once this Nova hits the show floor later this year.

From a rusty old Chevy to a prestigious House of Kolor award winner, this Nova’s story is an inspiration to all enthusiasts facing the decision between fixing a few things or going all out on their project car. But just remember- not every “custom” out there has to fit in the standard box of normalcy. This Nova certainly doesn’t, so why should your next project car?

A bright spot even in the dark, Efird's Nova is sure to steal the floor at the 2013 SEMA Show.

About the author

Lindsey Fisher

Lindsey is a freelance writer and lover of anything with a rumble. Hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles - she's owned and driven it all. When she's not busy writing about them, she's out in her garage wrenching away. Who doesn't love a tech-savy gal that knows her way around a garage?
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