There's a lot to be said for buying a finished, ready-to-go hot rod. You see what you want, you park it in your garage, and all the joys of owning your dream musclecar immediately begin. That's how it works, right? Not according to Mike Dressler. "I had to have this car," recalls Mike of the first time he laid eyes on a certain Marina Blue '67 Nova. "And it was a done car-or so I thought." Of course, many say there's no such thing, and this particular Deuce was far from finished. Mike set out to make this Nova into a performer and a looker, but just as importantly, he set out to remake his ride in this own image.
Mike confesses to being a mini-truck kid back in the day, but we don't hold it against him. His p'up of choice even made it into the pages of our sister pub Truckin'. There was a big stereo, some gaudy graphics, we suspect, and spit 'n' polish aplenty. "I thought I was gonna wash and wax the paint off," Mike reminisces. All that time spent detailing came in handy a couple of decades later, when he offered to serve as detail man for his father-in-law's extra-sano '55 Bel Air. The two made the show scene and, sure enough, Mike found himself craving something with eight cylinders and no bed out back.
As it turns out, Mike hadn't grown up totally oblivious to American muscle. His mom took care of business in a '68 Nova-grocery-getter style, mind you-and something about the X-bodies left an impression. Mike went shopping and, six month or so later, took the plunge. "I fell in love with the way this car looked," he recalls. "It was way over my budget, but I talked my wife into it." Unfortunately, the supercharged honeymoon didn't last long. The bottom line, according to Mike, was that the Nova's 406 "was not built well." It had too much cam and too much compression to live with a huffer, so Mike got to work before it died.
Axing the blower wasn't an option, so Ross Wilson (Wilson Racing Engines) was enlisted to create a boost-friendly powerplant, fed by a Performance Carburetors blow-through-ready Holley. Mike figures that only 10 percent of the old engine was retained for the new build, but there's more than just parts to this deal. The higher levels of performance were accompanied by higher levels of fit and finish. For example, the Procharger was treated to an internal tune-up, but the compressor case was also polished to a mirror shine. It's the pattern that Mike followed as the Nova reinvention continued-and continue it did.