With the introduction of Chevy’s soon to be famous “Mystery” V8, also called a “semi-hemi,” with its clever porcupine valve train configuration, the stars were perfectly aligned for the innovative Bill Thomas to advance the science of car building.
Using a two-year-old Chevy Nova, Bill created what amounts to the first factory backed funny car thanks to a tubular front-half chassis, a straight front axle supported by leaf springs and all housed under a complete fiberglass front end. Back in the day, Hot Rod editor, Jim McFarland referred to this machine as the “Novel Nova.” The setup proved so successful at the strip, this design approach was literally packaged and marketed to other Nova racers.
This auction car displayed here took on several iterations during its actual development period. Thomas even used a prototype fiberglass fastback on some versions that struck a curious similarity to the early Chargers and AMC Marlins.
After slumbering most of its life in a private garage, this trend setting Nova race car resurfaced in 2008. That’s when a complete restoration was begun by noted fabricator John Tinberg who has long ties to Chicago’s super car oriented Nickey Chevrolet.
John’s resto efforts were support by Bill Thomas himself before his passing in October of last year. His son, Bill Thomas III also provided necessary details to make the restoration as correct as possible. A signed certificate of authenticity is part of this car’s treasure chest of documentation.
This highly significant piece of automotive history will be making its next stop at Dana Mecum’s 24th “Original Spring Auction” on May 17-22. This should be considered a great moment in this car’s lifespan. After all, it was lovingly created, raced, stored and restored. It left a trail of excitement and memories in its wake that was enjoyed by thousands of fans and fellow racers alike. Its new owner will simply be the next caretaker of this gentle little economy car that became a world-class giant killer thanks to the fertile imagination of Bill Thomas.