Home-Built Hero: Thomas Coates’ ’70 Chevy Nova

It’s hard to beleive that paint was applied in 2003.

Usually, when a car guy feels the need to sell what he considers to be the perfect car, there is a reason that unwanted decision comes to fruition. Most of the time, that reason is usually a life altering experience, and anyone that happens to be a parent can attest to understanding that situation. For Thomas Coates of Houston, Texas, the car that needed to relocate in order to make room for a growing family was his second-gen Nova. Thomas told us, “I had one as a teenager, and after my wife announced we were expecting, I had to sell it to pay for the baby.”

'68 Chevy Nova 4

Adding Recaro bucket seats is the only upgrade Thomas has made to the interior.

But Thomas never lost sight of his dream to once again own a second-gen Nova, and swore he would get another one someday. It wasn’t until 2003 that he was able to relalize his dream. That’s when he found this ’70 Chevrolet Nova after checking it out on the Internet. He stated, “The body looked to be in great condition, so I flew from Houston, to Charlotte, North Carolina. Once I got there, I learned the engine had an internal problem. Thomas said he didn’t let that deter him, and a deal was struck. If you think the paint looks great, he also tells us that someone from the car’s past gets the credit, as it was painted 28 years ago.


When the Nova was finally in Texas, he took engine and transmission out and rebuilt both,. While he was at it, he also gave the rearend a good once over. After Owens Racing Engines in Pearland, Texas opened the engine’s cylinder bores in the 400ci small-block .040-inch, Thomas installed a Scat crankshaft, Pink connecting rods, a Comp Cams hydraulic stick, and 10.0:1 compression SRP forged pistons. A pair of Dart Iron Eagle cylinder heads with Harland Sharp roller rockers support the Edelbrock Performer RPM intake and a 750 cfm Holley fuel squirter.

Behind that is a Turbo 350 shifted by a B&M Quick Silver shifter, and the 10-bolt rearend is fitted with an Auburn posi unit and 3.73 gears.

The interior was almost to Thomas’ liking when he purchased the car, but he did a few modifications to suit his personality. The big change involved removing the bench seat and adding a pair of Recaro bucket seats. Other than that, it’s the way he found it.

'68 Chevy Nova 5

The small-block 400ci engine is the perfect motivator.

Thomas says the car runs flawlessly and has never let him sit, “It runs on pump gas, goes straight, and is fun to drive. It has won many awards at car shows, which I find funny because it’s not a show car, but rather, a street car with class.” Finally, if you think this street car can’t hold its own on the track, Thomas told us that his Nova consistently runs 11.51-second e.t.s in the quarter-mile.

'68 Chevy Nova 2

Do you want to read about more Home-Built Heros? All you need to do is click here. If you own a Home-Built Hero, we want to hear about it. Since we’ve started the series, we have received more than a few candidates, but we still want to see more – we can never get enough. If you want to see more cars built by you the readers, send us a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and we’ll make you Internet famous. You can send your submissions to chevyhardcore@powerautomedia.com.

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars, and involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion got him noticed by many locals, and he began to help them with their own vehicles.
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