History is always bound to repeat itself, and we love a good classic build. A lot of people look back and try to recreate the cars they saw back in the heyday of drag racing and the ’80s. This ‘74 Chevy Nova is straight out of 1981—and we’re serious about that. What you’re looking at is a true, surviving build from the early ‘80s. The current owner, Bruce Lindquist of Sequim, Washington, has owned the car since 2001, and it’s remained largely unchanged since he bought it.
“I drive it on the street,” Bruce explained, “I won’t have it if I can’t take it on the street, and I drive it about once a week.” Imagine seeing this roll up next to you at a stop light. It was painted in 1981, and exudes 1980s style with the purple color and graphics on the body. It would be nearly impossible to replicate the style. Not to mention, the nicks and dents that it shows off as battle-scars from a life spent on the track.
“When I bought this Nova, it didn’t have headlights, taillights, or an exhaust, just headers!” Bruce told us. “It was strictly a drag car.” Since he bought it, Bruce has added all the little things that make it street legal. It still has the same engine though, a small-block 350 cubic-inch engine bored .030 over.
An astute observer that’s familiar with the 1974 Nova will have read the first paragraph, looked at the frontend on the car, and thought, “That’s a ’70 Nova”. They aren’t technically wrong. “It’s a 1974 Nova from the firewall back, with a 1970 frontend,” Bruce explained.
The transmission is a Hughes Performance Turbo 350 with a manual valvebody, so it only shifts when the driver is ready to. “When the shift light flashes you just shift,” Bruce said. “There’s no time to look at the tach when you’re racing.”
This car also features an innovative and unusual fuel system. What’s better than one fuel cell? Two of course. “One fuel cell is for racing fuel,” Bruce explained, “and the other is for pump gas.” The 15-gallon cell is for cruising on cheaper street fuel, while the 5-gallon cell is for the more expensive racing fuel.
The Weld Racing Draglite wheels have been on since day one. “They’re super wide in the back and narrow up front,” Bruce explained. The seasoned wheels really work to complete the retro look of the car. It’s like this thing just rolled straight off the drag strip in 1985. We love it. There’s a lot of heritage in this car, and it’s important that we leave some of these classic builds the way we find them. After all, they can only be like this once.
Bruce has made a few upgrades to the car, like a newer MSD ignition system, additional interior gauges so he can keep an eye on all of the important vehicle stats, added a heater, and placed the fuse panel right on the dash for easy access. And although the car came with the rollcage already built in, he added the swing-out bars at the doors for easier entry and exit of the car.
We don’t see these kinds of old builds often enough, and we have to wonder where they are all hiding. We’ve seen the old pictures, and some of us even remember the ‘80s. There were a lot of these cars and a lot of cool custom builds like this. What happened to them all?
Do you have one of these hiding in your garage? Maybe you have a vintage build that you take on the street every now and then like Bruce? Or, it’s possible that you own a recent, retro-inspired build that you’d like to show off. Either way, send us an email with the details and a few pictures. We’d love to take a look and maybe even show it off as part of our Home-Built Heroes segment.