On the other hand, all that glitters is not gold, and John's journey was just beginning. Issues arose, most notably an overheating motor and wiring probs that declared themselves in a cloud of smoke. As a silver lining, the wiring issue got John hooked up with Martin Charles, who runs MC Automotive for a select group of friends in need of a skilled wrench. The duo remedied the wiring gremlins and did a "Look Ma, no wires" job on the engine compartment while they were at it.

Most of all, John wanted to put his stamp on this Nova, to make it his. He did that with a well-thought-out regimen of repairs and upgrades, accomplishing his dual goals of indulging nostalgia and driving anywhere. "I just enjoy it so much," he finally declared. "The speed, the rumble, the way it handles...but not the [lack of] traction." Alas, sometimes the modern and the old-school don't mesh all that well. We say it's nothing a set of drag radials won't cure. But when it comes down to it, John Packard sweated the details, and it shows-which is really cool.

John Packard never envisioned building a car with a stock-looking interior, but this SS' pristine digs changed his mind. The front seats have been reupholstered, but John discovered that the rear bench is original when he pulled it to set down a layer of Dynomat. A column-mounted Auto Meter tach is a later addition that matches the three-gauge pod residing just north of the very cool Nova SS center console. The Alpine stereo and six-disc CD changer are nice options; the Painless wiring harness, on the other hand, was a necessity.

This Deuce's front end is thoroughly modernized: a Heidt's front clip with a swaybar, manual rack-and-pinion, 2-inch drop spindles, and QA1 coilovers. Sub-frame connectors are a must on a box Nova. Out back, John improved the sus-pension setup by installing a set of Cal-Tracs bars, as well as moved-in custom multi-leaf springs by Will's Brakes, Santa Ana, California, to accompany the distaff QA1s.

Extra Effort
John Packard and Martin Charles cut the headers apart and repositioned the primaries to gain badly needed front wheel clearance. You'd never know if we hadn't told you.

The Nova arrived in the Packard garage with smooth flanks and a great coat of Marina Blue paint. It also arrived sans air cleaner, thanks to a lack of hood clearance. John's first order of business was to order up a 2-inch cowl lid from Goodmark; Upland, California's F&A Auto & Paint sprayed on a perfect color match. Anything chrome was polished by Superior Metal Polishing in Fullerton, California.

Wheels, Tires, Brakes
Bigs and littles, anyone? Wheels are Torq-Thrusts, 15x5 front and 15x7 rear; rubber is by BFG, with a skinny size 185/65 leading and 245/60s attempting to put the power to the pavement. Not as traditional but much more practical, John ditched the stock binders in favor of four-pot Wilwoods grabbing drilled and slotted rotors at each corner.