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Building the Goodguys Giveaway 1967 Nova – Part 1

Look around the grounds at almost any Goodguys event these days and you’re likely to see a striking number of cars and trucks from the 1960s. From early-’60s cruisers, to mid-and late-decade muscle cars, to vintage pickups, ’60s rides are hot. It’s no wonder that the past three Goodguys Grand Prize Giveaway vehicles have come from that decade – a ’63½ Galaxie, ’67 Camaro, and ’69 F100, respectively. We’re keeping that theme alive by introducing our latest Grand Prize Giveaway car – a stunning ’67 Chevy II Nova built by Designer Street Rods in Cleveland, Georgia.

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This particular ’67 Nova departs from the common project car approach of taking an existing body, restoring it, and then completing the build with great aftermarket parts. With the growing popularity of ’66-’67 Novas, finding a straight rust-free original is getting harder and more expensive, so Goodguys and Designer Street Rods employed an all-new-steel reproduction coupe body from Real Deal Steel.

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Beginning with a new body can cut months of work off a project compared to starting with a decades-old car and all of the accumulated wear, tear, and rust. Real Deal Steel, located in Sanford, Florida, has been assembling new-steel bodies for Tri-five Chevys, first-generation Camaros, and ’66-’67 Chevy II Novas for nearly nine years now. The company has sold hundreds of bodies to customers around the world.


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Like all Real Deal Steel bodies, the giveaway Nova was constructed on a proprietary assembly station that uses a collection of carefully designed fixtures to guarantee that a completed body matches original factory specifications. In addition, dozens of vice grip pliers help align body panels. All structural and skin assembly utilizes water-cooled 220V resistance spot welders – the same technology used in much-larger automotive assembly plants. Real Deal Steel generally uses 25-percent more spot welds than original to give the bodies added strength.

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When completed, the body was hauled to north Georgia for the Designer Street Rods crew to begin working its magic, guided by an Eric Brockmeyer concept illustration.

The Designer team test fitted the front and rear suspension packages from Detroit Speed to see what modifications would be needed for a stock body to accept the aftermarket driveline components. As is the case with most complex projects, even a new body must be altered to accommodate modern engines and transmissions. The firewall and stock floor pan were altered to clear the Edelbrock supercharged 416c.i. LS3 engine that pumps out 720 horsepower. Designer Street Rods’ Rodney Beasley said the stock floor and driveshaft tunnel needed to be raised nearly an inch to clear the Tremec six-speed transmission and Inland Empire driveshaft.

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Because of the Nova’s unibody construction, the Designer Street Rods team built custom rails to connect the Detroit Speed front and rear subframes. This improves the car’s rigidity and its ability to handle the powerful modern powertrain. Since a new Vintage Air system will eliminate the need for original-style kick panel fresh air vents, the intake grille openings on the top of the cowl were eliminated, thanks to a Ground Up cowl panel.

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Let’s get this project started by seeing how the all-new body came together at Real Deal Steel, and the first steps in fitting the Detroit Speed suspension, Edelbrock engine, and Tremec transmission. In future installments we’ll see how the body was prepped for paint, details on the process of applying PPG finishes, a closer look at the all-new suspension, driveline, and exhaust, plus details on many other critical components supplied by industry-leading companies. Stay tuned!

Photos from Real Deal Steel and Designer Street Rods

Dave Doucette is a long-time Goodguys member with a career in newspaper, magazine and website journalism. He was one of the founding editors of USA TODAY, editor of two daily newspapers and co-owner of a magazine publishing and trade show company. He owns and operates Real Auto Media. His first car was a 1947 Ford; he has owned Camaros, Firebirds, El Caminos and a 1956 Chevy that was entered in shows from California to Florida before being sold last year. He was one of the original Goodguys Rodders Reps and served as president of two classic Chevy clubs. Doucette grew up in South Florida, avidly following the racing exploits of local hero Ollie Olsen and, of course, Don Garlits. He remembers riding his bicycle to Briggs Cunningham’s West Palm Beach factory to peak through the fence at his Sebring and LeMans racers.

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