Nathan O’Quinn has been a car guy for a good, long time.
“I’ve been into cars since I was 4 years old. My dad had a ’72 Camaro that I used to play in,” he said.
His first car was a Mustang, followed by a pair of Camaros. He had his heart set on a classic ’68 Camaro.
“I never thought I would own one, though. It was my dream car,” he said. “When I was 25, I bought a ’68. It was my first old-school hot rod,” he said. “I have probably had a dozen Camaros since then.”
But although he now owns a jet-black ’68 Camaro SS, the car that occupies most of his attention these days is a gorgeous red 1967 Chevy II Nova SS built by a friend while he was putting the Camaro together. They consulted on ideas as the two cars were being built.
“Then he got in a pinch and I said, `I’ll buy it from you.’” And he did.
Where the Camaro is a big block car, the Chevy II features a stroked 383 cubic inch small block V-8, topped by a BDS 6:71 supercharger jutting up through the hood, being fed pump gas by a pair of Holley 650 cfm carburetors. It is equipped with a set of Hooker Super Comp headers connected to a pair of Flowmaster mufflers, and when the ignition switch is turned on, there is no doubt the power plant is more than adequate to get the Chevy II down the road in a hurry.
A Muncie 4-speed transmission is bolted to the engine and routes power back to a Ford no-slip differential filled with 3:55 gears. O’Quinn figured there was no way a set of conventional street tires could handle the kind of horsepower being transmitted back to a set of Chip Foose custom 5-spoke wheels.
So he opted instead for a set of Goodrich P255/40ZR street slicks, with regular 225/45/17 tires up front.
“I thought it would hook up with those tires. But it’s like it’s on roller blades when you let off the clutch,” he confessed.
As strong as the Chevy II is, it has never been down the drag strip.
“I never had a desire to race it, because when you start racing a car, you start breaking things,” O’Quinn said. “I’ll do a few burnouts in it and then I’m done.”
And while O’Quinn doesn’t punish the little Chevy on the track, it’s no trailer queen, either. He figures cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed.
“I probably put somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000 miles on my car each year,” he said.
Some of that mileage is logged attending car shows, where O’Quinn usually displays both the Chevy II and the Camaro together. The pair always attracts plenty of attention.
The Chevy II’s arrow-straight sheet metal was painted in single-stage red by Rob Blagg at Blagg Body Shop in Derby. O’Quinn says single stage paint is harder and resists scratching better than current base/clearcoat paint and can be touched up easier in case of a road chip.
O’Quinn has chosen to add no graphics to the little red Chevy.
“I prefer the clean, sporty look,” he explains.
Inside, the driver and passenger are treated to a set of aftermarket racing seats upholstered in white leather with distinctive red piping and Chevy Bowtie logos, all sewn up by Unique Interiors, who covered the rear bench seat and door panels in the same materials. Bright red carpeting covers the floors and a Hurst shifter is mounted above the transmission, within easy driver’s reach.
The dashboard is decked out in dark graphite-colored carbon fiber, which surrounds the instrument panel and the Alpine Type R stereo head unit and covers the glove box door. A full set of white-faced Auto Meter gauges fill the instrument insert, with a set of fuel pressure and boost gauges mounted to the back end of the supercharger for easy viewing. A Budnik flame-themed steering wheel handles directional input.
“These cars take me back to my glory days,” O’Quinn says. “I don’t listen to rap music or hip-hop. I listen to Led Zeppelin … there’s nothing better than banging through the gears, doing it old school.”
Reach Mike Berry at email@example.com.