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Big Block Dreams

Morgan Oliver-Allen


Behind the Shot

In Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 film Death Proof, stuntman Mike, played by the menacing Kurt Russell, wields a 1970 Chevy Nova SS as deftly as Jason swung his machete, or Leatherface his chainsaw. With a skull with lightning bolts emblazoned on its hood and a chrome cigar-chomping rubber-duck hood ornament, the mere sound of the flat-black muscle car’s engine was enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck.

Morgan, like Tarantino, is fascinated by the Nova. The ’74 and ’70 models have also appeared in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

For Morgan, the attraction is much more visceral. “This was my childhood dream car,” he recalls. “The 1970 Chevy Nova SS big block in black. I had these all over my shelves. The Chevelle was too big; the Mustang wasn’t beefy enough. The ruggedness and the grittiness of the Nova appealed to me.”

After an exhaustive search, he found one for sale in Georgia. “I was looking for good paint, no rust. I saw the potential it had. There was just enough work done on it to be worth it, and I knew it was a perfect project car for me. The previous owner was building it out as a drag racer and did it all correctly.

“It wasn’t drivable, though. Over the next six months I put a ton of work into it. The engine was unfinished. It needed new suspension, new wiring and a bunch of other things. By the time it was done, it was perfect. This was the car. A 1970 Chevy Nova 454 SS big block, better than when it rolled off the line. This car will stand the test of time.”