My grandfather worked at a GM factory
in Anderson, Indiana for thirty years and he always drove a Chevy. In ‘68
he retired and moved to Bradenton. He owned some nice old Impalas, but
the last car he ever bought was a beige four door ‘77 Chevy Concours
In ‘94 my grandparents decided to move back up north and my grandfather
gave my dad the Nova. My dad thought about leaving it in Florida, but
it was his dad’s last Chevy. He and my brother flew to Florida
and drove it back.
We knew the Nova really was a Florida car with only 33000 miles on it
that had just been driven to church on Sundays. We figured it would not
need much work. We quickly discovered that seventeen years sitting in
a Florida carport is hard on a car, especially a plasticky 1970’s
The vinyl filler panels between the bumper and car body quickly disintegrated.
A plastic headlight bezel blew off on the freeway. The interior trim
around the doors, c-pillars, etc. crumbled when touched. The mouse fur
seat upholstery tore as easily as gauze. The differential, transmission,
and engine leaked like crazy. The beige paint had developed fine cracks
so the entire car quickly started sprouting a film of surface rust. The
plastic windshield wiper switch snapped off the first time it was touched.
The list of repairs goes on and on. Grandpa’s car quickly turned
into a restoration project. We scoured northern junkyards for interior
and exterior pieces. We had the seats completely reupholstered and a
new vinyl top put on. The heater core, water pump, oil pump, leaf springs,
carburetor and many other parts all needed replacing. It felt a little
silly restoring a ’77 Nova, but it was Grandpa’s car and
it did look better than original when finished.
We learned that every part of the country has its own unique way of
aging cars. A car baked in Florida might be rust free but need a parts
donor car from the north. We also discovered that vinyl paint really
does work! None of the interior plastic trim parts we scrounged at junkyards
were beige. We painted everything with brown vinyl paint and it held
My dad felt good when he picked up his parents in that sharp looking
Nova Concours. The funny thing was my grandfather never realized how
much work had gone into the Nova. To him the car was still his new Chevy.
He figured my dad must have just waxed it to keep it looking nice.
My grandfather died last year at age 99. My dad asked me if I wanted
the old Nova and I had to say no. My garages are already too full. I
also might need to restore my own parent’s Chevy in another twenty
years or so. My dad sold the Nova for $2000 to an older Indiana man who
wanted a clean, reliable Chevy.
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