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Chapter 2
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Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
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Chapter One: The Body

Photos by Craig Blanton

Yup, it's a real 69 Nova fiberglass body. Whoever painted that grille did a dandy job, right? It's prob'ly too old to save but I'm actually gonna try! FCs are s'posed to have a few nicks and scratches anyway, right? Plus, the history aspect makes me wanna save a wee bit of the old. This shot was taken at friend Carl Blanton's house in Asbury, MO. He owns Mo-Kan Dragway.
Yup, it's a real 69 Nova fiberglass body. Whoever painted that grille did a dandy job, right? It's prob'ly too old to save but I'm actually gonna try! FCs are s'posed to have a few nicks and scratches anyway, right? Plus, the history aspect makes me wanna save a wee bit of the old. This shot was taken at friend Carl Blanton's house in Asbury, MO. He owns Mo-Kan Dragway.

The body find is a funny story. After placing a few ads and sending out feelers of all kinds to find a Nova, a 70-1/2 Camaro or a Javelin (or other oddball body) and coming up with virtually nothing, a guy called and said, "I think I've got what you want…" OK, so I was curious. He told me the story of a neglected Nova funny car that was languishing in his backyard. "It's the Kendall GT-1 car," said the voice. The only Kendall GT-1 car I could think of was Jack Chrisman's Comet, and I knew Jim Barillaro owned and restored it so what could this voice be stating. OK, I'll bite, so I told the voice to send me pix via email. And, a couple days later, there were two pictures of a Nova FC body in my inbox. My mouth watered.

The right side of the plastic shell shows the mostly blue paint design and the name "Ernie Duckett." I personally know little about the man except that he is/was from Alabama, he ran fuel cars for awhile, and later drove alky cars for others. Note that the wheel wells were radiused long ago, a typical necessity when larger tires were mounted on early (wide) chassis. I'll have to fix those back to a more stock configuration.
The right side of the plastic shell shows the mostly blue paint design and the name "Ernie Duckett." I personally know little about the man except that he is/was from Alabama, he ran fuel cars for awhile, and later drove alky cars for others. Note that the wheel wells were radiused long ago, a typical necessity when larger tires were mounted on early (wide) chassis. I'll have to fix those back to a more stock configuration.

But there were numerous problems. First, the body was in Kansas. Second, the asking price was $18,000! Third, I was warned that the body would be cut up into a Super Gasser very soon. Indeed, the total price included a rolling 2x3 chassis with 4-link, etc. I called the voice back and got some other particulars. I said I was only interested in the body. He put a tape measure to the body and told me the wheelbase was about 118" and I told him that a figure of $1000 was closer to what I'd pay, maybe $1500 depending on the condition …but I'd have to think about it.

That shield and those long faded names may yield some clues as to history. Anybody? Have you got some answers? If you look closely, you'll notice that little aluminum bubble built into the back "window." another typical fix to get the body slightly lower.
That shield and those long faded names may yield some clues as to history. Anybody? Have you got some answers? If you look closely, you'll notice that little aluminum bubble built into the back "window." another typical fix to get the body slightly lower.

Then I called Carl Blanton. Carl owns Mo-Kan Dragway right on the Missouri-Kansas border near Joplin and at the time, American Drag News for which I was writing stories and columns. He agreed to store the body there should I be able to come to terms, and even to slide some dollars toward the purchase price should that be necessary.

Some previous owner began the unenviable task of paint stripping but I'm glad some remains. Layers of paint are very similar to the layers of soil an archaeologist goes through searching for clues of an ancient civilization. Removing paint will hopefully reveal something. My theory is that there will be bright red paint under the blue and the name "Bobby Wood" on the side. Wood also hailed from Alabama and ran a similar Nova that could have been passed on to Mr. Duckett.
Some previous owner began the unenviable task of paint stripping but I'm glad some remains. Layers of paint are very similar to the layers of soil an archaeologist goes through searching for clues of an ancient civilization. Removing paint will hopefully reveal something. My theory is that there will be bright red paint under the blue and the name "Bobby Wood" on the side. Wood also hailed from Alabama and ran a similar Nova that could have been passed on to Mr. Duckett.

I tho't seriously about it for two days and called again. The guy was pretty firm on wanting more money than I was willing to spend. I believe that was a Friday. On Sunday, the phone jangled and a strange woman's voice inquired whether I was Phil and wanted this racecar body. When I answered in the affirmative, she asked, "And you'll pay $1500?" I quickly got the idea that Voice 1 and Voice 2 were in disagreement as to the Nova's value as yard décor, and I was suddenly caught in the swirl.

This is the "tree" under the back of the body. You can make out the inside of that clearance scoop in the back window.
This is the "tree" under the back of the body. You can make out the inside of that clearance scoop in the back window.

Within one day of that phone call, the body was on a truck and delivered to Blanton's carport. I received further photos from Carl and Craig Blanton, and even a couple from fans that saw the car out at Mo-Kan at their "oldies" race.

This is the "tree" under the front of the body. It is obvious from that opening in the "hood" that this was a blown car.
This is the "tree" under the front of the body. It is obvious from that opening in the "hood" that this was a blown car.

On one side, the name Ernie Duckett was prominently displayed, along with Kendall GT-1. This was no sticker; it was professional lettering. Indeed, it was the Kendall GT-1 car. In other lettering, Alabama showed up. I quickly got the idea that it was one of two Novas Bobby Wood raced between 1969 and '71, especially since Wood was also from Alabama. No proof you understand. I looked forward to getting the body west, but little did I know it would be many months before that would happen.

 

Explore.

Dream.

Discover.

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