The early Chevy II Nova has become quite a staple in the custom automotive and hot rod world. They are good looking little cars that are light, fun, and easy to work on. Their size and weight make them a perfect candidate for a performance build where you can start out on the up-side of the weight to horsepower ratio. Not only that, but their small size also means they’ll fit nicely in almost any garage.
True to form, this gasser has a badass stance, a big engine, and a cool look.
The gasser style is something we haven’t seen done all that often to an early Nova. The classic look of a gasser really brings out the personal style of the builder. It’s a great way to express their own interests and aesthetic taste. The gasser platform gives the builder ultimate freedom to create a high horsepower build in whatever way they want. This Nova is particularly unique, because the builder, Kenney Lohmeyer of Post Falls, Idaho, combined the gasser style with the patina look.
Acquiring II Much
He asked if I wanted to buy this car, and so I did – Kenney Lohmeyer
The story of this once econobox Chevy starts in 2008, with a phenomenal barn find, and Kenney making a leap of faith. He paid $400 for this car before he even laid eyes on it. He didn’t have much of an idea as to what he was getting himself into. “A friend called and told me that his wife’s uncle died and they needed money to pay for the funeral,” Kenney explained. “He asked if I wanted to buy this car, so I did.”
A lot of sweat equity went into building this car.
Having never seen the car, he didn’t know exactly what he was getting himself into. That being said, we think he made the same choice we would have when he jumped on it for that price. With the overall good condition, we’re sure he was happy he made that jump. “It was in a barn on this property, and it hadn’t moved in a long time,” Kenney explained. “It was last registered in 1992, but it had likely been sitting longer than that.”
Just look at how solid those floors are!
When Kenney found it, the little Duece was still dressed in its original paint and had its original engine and transmission. Now, nearly ten years later, it still wears the same colors, but is powered by something a little more intimidating than the old straight-six engine and three-on-the-tree manual transmission. Some might say the look is too much, but we would argue that it’s built just right.
Building A Gasser
“It took about three to three and a half years to build,” Kenney said. “I let it sit while I worked on some other projects I had going on.” Although Kenney let the Nova percolate for a while on the back burner, this was not a car he was unsure of. When he bought it, he knew exactly what it was destined to become.
Although the engine is a tad bigger than what Chevrolet had in mind for these cars, we think this car wears it well.
“As soon as I got the car, I knew what I wanted to do with it,” he explained. “I had been formulating a plan of a gasser in my mind that I wanted to build.” It just so happened that this car was a perfect start for his project. It was solid, it was cool, and the price was right.
The straight-down open headers force enough air to really agitate the dust when he moves the car.
The first thing he did was tear out the old engine, transmission, and frontend. “I was able to sell that old stuff,” he said. “I put it on Craigslist, and some guy called, came over, and bought it all.” With the old stuff gone, Kenney slid a Speedway Motors straight axle front end with leaf springs underneath.
With the old six-cylinder engine gone, Kenney had room to give the little car more life. He achieved that by putting a 468 cubic-inch big-block under the the spot where the hood should be. With a 10.6:1 compression ratio, a .648-inch-lift roller camshaft, a lot of head work, over-sized valves, and roller rockers, it’s a nasty street monster.
The engine is also fitted with an Edelbrock intake matched to a 950 cfm Holley carburetor, and the Hooker fenderwell headers let it exhale cleanly. It also has a turbo-400 automatic transmission and heavily upgraded rearend with a Strange spool, Strange 33-spline hardened axles, coilover rear shocks, and ladder bars.
The car epitomizes both the gasser and patina look at the same time. It's got the right stance and the old paint and new mechanics of a well-done car. This is our kind of hybrid!
The rearend work was the last thing he finished. In fact, for a short time, he was running the stock rearend components. “It would smoke one tire,” he told us. “A real one-tire frier.”
A Few Personal Touches
While Kenney left the original paint and patina on the exterior of the car, he did make a few changes to the interior – for comfort, safety, and convenience. He took out the old seats and replaced the front bench with bucket seats out of a late ‘70s Chevy Luv truck. The rear seat was… what rear seat? It’s a gasser, not a passenger car, there is no rear seat anymore.
Believe it or not, the original paint showed nearly no rust at all when Kenney first got it. The rust you can see didn’t start to present itself until they took the car to Ocean City, Maryland, last year. “The car show was right on the water,” Kenney explained. “The salty air really brought out the rust.” A prime example of the affect from the salt air is the panel behind the back window. There’s a light, rusty haze there now, but there wasn’t any there before he took it to the ocean.
The orange haze on the trunk and right below the back window weren’t there until last year.
Kenney also added the rollbar, which is important two-fold for the gasser build. The bar is an important piece of safety equipment in a car like this, especially one so small. But it’s also part of the design of the gasser style. It’s a symbol of how tough the car was built.
The dash makes use of the factory gauges, but Kenney has added a few more below the dash, so he can actually keep an eye on levels, rather than just having idiot lights for things like temperature, oil pressure, and voltage. On top of the dash, he added a tachometer as well.
Driving The car
With the car finished, Kenney is at the point where he can take the car out and enjoy it. “Last year, we went coast-to-coast with the car,” he explained. “We started in Ocean City, Maryland, for the Spring Cruise In, and ended up at Eagle Field in California.” Taking the car to California meant a lot to Kenney, because he grew up there. The reunion gave him the opportunity to cruise in his car with his buddies from back in the day.
They attended an event in California called Eagle Field Drags, which is a unique gathering of a nostalgic drag race. “The race was flag started,” he explained, “and we raced on an old runway.” Classic cars, an old runway, and flag-start drag racing, sounds like our kind of place.
We'll have to make our way to those nostalgic drags one day. It sounds like a really cool event!
All-in-all, he traveled 11,000 miles last year. He started right on the water at Ocean City, Maryland, and ended in California. While Dos Palos and Eagle Field are not on or really close to the water, he made an additional 100-mile trip to Monterey and had dinner on the waterfront so he could truly say he had taken the car coast to coast.
There is a lot to be said about the classic look and style of the gasser, and Kenney did a great job taking that style and making it his own. A patina-covered gasser is definitely unique. Pair that with the fact that it’s a 1964 Chevy II, and that makes it just too much. The car has absolutely earned its name, and we love it.
Check out our gallery for more pics of this awesome ride.