Archie Craige's 1963 Chevy II Nova
(from Volume 23, Issue 267)

story and photos by Michael B. Kelly


Archie Craige’s love for cars started when he was a very young boy in St. Petersburg, Florida hanging out with his drag racer dad at the local drag strips. His love for Novas in particular was also started right there at the drag strip, watching cars like Grumpy’s Toy and other Novas run down the quarter mile.

Archie has owned his 1963 Chevy II Nova for 5 years, having purchased it out of Charlotte, North Carolina. At that point it was a decent driver that had undergone a body-off restoration. However, it wasn’t long before he gave it new life as a restomod in progress.

Some of the larger items that Archie has added to the car include installing a Heidts 4-link rear suspension, along with a 9-inch Ford rear end with a limited slip differential, 31 spline Moser axles, and 3.50:1 gears. To upgrade the brakes Archie went with a Wilwood master cylinder, SSBC vacuum pump, Aerospace GT big bore 4-piston calipers front and back, plus drilled and slotted rotors (13-inch fronts, 12-inch backs). Up front is a Heidts subframe, and Heidts billet adjustable coilover shocks are at all four corners. The Pro Touring look is accentuated with a set of Rambler style wheels from US Mags wrapped in Nitto NT555 ultra high performance tires. The new wide rear meats were made possible thanks to Detroit Speed mini-tubs, which when viewed from inside the trunk look as if they were installed at the Chevrolet factory. All of the recent chassis, suspension, brake work, and mini tubs were completed by Phil Sommers of American Supercar in Hudson, Florida.

Power comes from a 355 cubic inch motor with a 4-bolt main, World heads, Edelbrock air gap intake, Quick Fuel SS carb, MSD ignition, March Revolver serpentine pulley system, Doug’s headers, and a Flowmaster exhaust with 3-1/2 pipes. Everything in the engine compartment is super clean, with lots of polished and plated parts throughout. Power is routed back thru a Turbo 350 automatic transmission with a shift kit and 3,000 stall converter, passing thru a PST driveshaft to the 9-inch Ford rear end.

The exterior is painted silver with pinstriping accents, which carry over to under the hood and the interior of the car as well. Inside you will find black vinyl upholstery and door panels, black carpet, bench seat, Lokar shifter and pedals, an Ididit tilt steering column topped with a billet steering wheel, and Dolphin gauges. The Vintage Air system keeps the cabin temperature cool, while a Kenwood sound system pumps out the cool cruising tunes.

Archie told us that his car is indeed a work in progress, and future plans include installing either a ProCharger or a turbo setup on the engine, along with a set of TMI bucket seats inside. The car is already killer, so we are sure that anything Archie does decide on will only make it that much more over the top.

In talking with Archie, we could tell he really does love Novas, and we found out that he also owns a 1978 Nova that he purchased 6+ years ago. He also recently started a Facebook group called “Chevy Nova Nation”, which though it hasn’t been around very long already has over 1,000 members that share their pictures, stories, knowledge, and love for all things Nova. So if that describes you, be sure and check out the group online. Archie also wanted to thank his wife and children for putting up with his automotive obsession. It is easy to see from the smile on his face that being behind the wheel of his own cool Nova has made his childhood dreams come true....and by the encouraging comments and number of admiring looks the car gets at the shows and cruise-ins it is also obvious that others enjoy it just about as much. CN