Randy Irwin's Gasser Style 1967 Chevy II Nova
(from Volume 25, Issue 307)

story by owner Randy Irwin, photos by Michael B. Kelly


In November of 1974 my family moved to Florida when I was fifteen years old, that meant in ONLY three months I could get my drivers license. When January hit I got my license and I was on the move. The first thing I did was find the local speed shop in Orlando. Automotive One was the place everyone in town went to, with super great people. I bought parts to hot rod my car and I also found out where everyone hung out on Saturday nights. Colonial Plaza at the corner of Colonial Drive and Bumby Avenue was the place. Like most Saturday cruises people would show up about 7:30pm and hang till about 11:30, unless there was a race.

You would get to know the cars before you would get to know the owners. Some people were approachable, and some were not, as far as you thought. One such car guy was Ed Shays, heck he was an older guy, out of high school and had a full time job. Ed would drive a silver 1976 Pontiac Trans Am during the week, but on Saturday nights he would cruise Colonial Drive in a blue 1966 or 67 (I don’t remember) Chevy II. This thing was nose high with a straight axle, tunnel ram with two Holley carbs, velocity stacks, a Muncie 4-speed with a Vertigate shifter and Lakewood ladder bars. The valves were set at .032, it idled at about 1,600 RPM’s and shook the Plaza when he pulled in off of Bumby. Man I wanted a straight axle car from that day forward, and it had to be a 1966 or 67 Chevy II.

In 2003 I found a 1967 one owner, factory A/C, power steering, disc brake, power rear antenna Chevy II in Tucson, Arizona. The lady had bought the car in November of 1966 and it lived it’s whole life in Tucson, which meant ZERO rust. I bought the car and had it shipped to Florida, and drove it like it was for about three years, but then it was time to build my Ed Shays car.

I bought the straight axle assembly from Speedway Motors, and had it chromed. Next I replaced the original number matching 283 cubic inch engine with a mild 350 cubic inch one, which is bored .040 over with 10.5:1 pistons, a Comp Cam Big Mother Thumper camshaft, 2.02 double hump heads, and a tunnel ram intake with two Holley 600cfm carbs. I had all the machine work done at Weber Machine in Sanford. I still have the original points distributor in the motor but I am using Accel points, condenser, and cap, with an Accel Super Coil and plug wires like back in the day. I replaced the automatic transmission with a Muncie 4-speed, and changed the gears in the rear end to a 4.10:1 ratio. It still has the original 10-bolt rear end in it for now, but I am on the lookout for a 12-bolt rear end. I found some used Lakewood ladder bars and had them powder coated Lakewood yellow by Woody’s Powder Coating, and stacked up some leaf springs in the rear to raise up the back of the car.

When I got the car it had been repainted all white and had the original bright blue bench seat interior still in it. I media blasted the entire car inside and out and had Lockhart Auto Body in Lockhart do all the paint work, utilizing a custom blue mix. The interior was changed to black bucket seats and was done by WJR Custom Upholstery in Apopka.

The car drives great. I’ve driven it by the Plaza, but the Plaza is more like a mall now so you really can’t cruise the parking lot. Ed now lives down in Clewiston and we have talked. I’m going to take the boy for a ride sometime when he is in town.

I also have a Pro Street 1966 Chevy II with a blown injected big block, that I do some street driving with too. My business partner Joe Whitaker and I own Real Deal Steel in Sanford, Florida. We manufacture reproduction steel bodies of 1955-57 Chevys, 1st Gen Camaros (1967-69) and 2nd Gen Camaros (1970-73) and yes 1966-67 Chevy II’s. My plan is to build one of our Chevy II bodies and install an LS motor and a Tremec transmission. I’ll probably use Detroit Speed front and rear suspension, with 17-inch wheels up front and 18-inch wheels on the rear. Like most car guys, I find there is always something new to tinker with, or dream about building. CN