- - Thursday, August 4, 2011

In the summer of 1991 Lynn Rumble was driving his four-door Chevrolet Nova sedan on Rhode Island Avenue a few blocks from his College Park home when he saw a car with a for sale sign in the window.

What had arrested his attention was an antique white-over-light red 1977 Chevrolet Nova Concours two-door coupe. Because he was happy with his sedan, he stopped to inquire about the particulars. Although the car was very nice and had been driven only 18,420 miles in 14 years, he thought the asking price was too steep.

Over the course of the next several months, he kept his eye on the car and, as time passed, the price began slipping. In November 1991 he again stopped and this time he negotiated a cash deal with the owner and the striking, chrome-laden Chevrolet was his.

Before he retired in 2003, he drove the car to work at Walter Reed Hospital until he witnessed some of the damage done to cars parked on the street. Thereafter he kept the car close to home.

In an unintentional case of turn about is fair play, in July 1994 Mr. Rumble was driving his wife’s car in the rain when it went into a skid that totaled the car. Since his wife, Beverly, had no car to drive, she used the 1977 Chevrolet to take her daughter, Melanie, to work. At an intersection, a passing utility truck ripped off the entire front clip of the car.

By this time, Mr. Rumble had discovered that his car was one of 28,602 such cars manufactured in the 1977 model year. He had his car, with about 22,000 miles on the odometer, trucked to K&L Enterprises, a repair shop in Martinsburg, W.Va. where in three months the car was put back together in better condition that it was when it was new.

Mr. Rumble has the window sticker from the car when it was sold new at the Gerken Chevrolet dealership in West Chester, Pa. It lists the base price as $3,991.45. Extra cost options included:

YAir conditioning$488

YTurbo Hydra-Matic289

YPower steering.146

Y305 cid V-8 engine120

YAM radio72

YAppearance group70

YTilt steering wheel63

YPower brakes63

YSoft-Ray tinted glass51

YTwo-tone paint43

YColor-keyed rally wheels42

YRadial tires.35

YTwo sport mirrors32

YColor-keyed safety belts19

YColor-keyed floor mats18

YDoor edge guards9

With a $172 destination charge added, the total suggested price was $5,723.45.

Parts for the repairs came from a number or sources in a number of states. One headlight bezel came from Maine, while the other one was located in the District. An authentic, difficult-to-find, Space Saver spare tire was found in a junkyard in Maryland while the unused canister of air to inflate the little tire came from a junkyard in Virginia.

As for the trim above each wheel well, one was found in Maryland while the other three came from South Carolina. The trim rings on each wheel were purchased in Pennsylvania.

Amazingly, the original rubber floor mats survived and are in place today, protecting the red carpet beneath the red vinyl seats. The red headliner was replaced at Classic Upholstery and Glass in Hagerstown. A search for door handles to replace the original serviceable ones turned up a new pair in Pennsylvania.

The stylized “C” etched in the backup light lens and in the hood ornament have been painstakingly repainted with black paint and a steady hand by Mr. Rumble.

The previous owner had painted each of the six-slot wheels silver to simulate expensive after-market wheels. While the car was being repainted, Mr. Rumble had the wheels stripped and painted the color of the body, just as it was when the car rolled out the factory door.

He has taken other steps to preserve his car, such as having a leather cover sewn onto the steering wheel in order to protect the original wooden wheel.

Whenever Mr. Rumble settles into the driver’s seat of his car, after filling the 21-gallon fuel tank, and fires up the V-8 engine that is eager to deliver 145 horsepower, he is reminded with a glance at the speedometer that the government was trying to keep his driving enjoyment to a minimum. The speedometer tops out at 80 mph.

Mr. Rumble endorses joining the car club of whatever car you own.

He says the National Nostalgic Nova group has been invaluable in helping him find the parts and information he needed.

With the odometer on his Nova Concours approaching 30 years of age and 36,500 miles, Mr. Rumble restricts his driving to local car shows and the occasional parade.

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