Brandon Barth of Bismarck, North Dakota, started his email by writing, “In 1997, my dad, Dave, purchased a shell of a car and a box of parts. At the time, I wasn’t sure what he was thinking.” That introduction definitely got our attention.
Regardless of the Nova’s humble beginnings, Brandon informed us that work slowly started to get accomplished as Dave fabricated a new subframe, firewall, and wheel tubs. Brandon told us, “Let’s just say that about the only things he didn’t fabricate were the rollcage, dash, and decklid wing.”
In 2010, Brandon took a job at Hedahl’s Auto Parts’ paint department. Little did he know how that job would impact his father’s Nova project. Friend and mentor Jason Teske started showing Brandon some tricks of the trade, and Brandon started painting small parts of the car like the subframe, detail pieces, door jambs and so forth. Gradually, he got more confident and painted the dash, floor, and the rollcage – twice. Brandon chuckled as he said, “For the record, I’m not a fan of rollcages — at least painting them anyway.”
Around Christmas 2013, The Barth men were ready to paint the Nova’s body. They constructed a home-made paint booth and got everything ready to go. The duo began the task on a Friday morning by final sanding, prepping, and masking the body. Brandon and Jason worked all night and got the car sealed and applied a coat of silver paint by 6 a.m. the following morning.
After a short four-hour power nap, they finished spraying the final coat of orange at about 4:00 p.m. Over the next few weeks, Jason and Brandon, along with the supervision of Brandon’s girlfriend, Sarah, sanded and buffed the paint on the car. After more long evenings and a few 12 packs, the Nova was ready for the fun, but stressful part of the project – assembly.
A 454 ci big-block was bored .030-inch over, and received new pistons with the stock crankshaft and connecting rods. An aftermarket camshaft and aluminum intake paired with a Holley 1050 Dominator carburetor help build an estimated 600 horsepower. Behind that is a Turbo 400 transmission and a narrowed 9-inch rearend. A few months after the paint was applied, the car had power. After that came the tedious task of putting everything else back together, including the wiring. According to Brandon, “Never had I thought there would be so many wires in this car. It seemed like it was never ending. It took us until October 2014 before the Nova was finally driven for the first time.” Their maiden voyage consisted of a six-mile drive that involved five gallons of fuel, and a lot of tire smoke.
The car was then taken to Mr. Sunshine Upholstery, who did an unbelievable job. You can tell by looking at the car, he went above and beyond.
Brandon continued by saying, “I’m happy to say that we have won a couple of loacl awards (Best Muscle Car and the Hoodlum’s Top Gear Award) at our first show! All that work to complete the car, and then to win something made us very proud.”
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