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1963 Chevy 11 Nova SS Convertible
by Terry and Gillian Johnston, Peachland Wheel Nuts Chapter
We bought this car 54 Years ago in April in Vernon. It was owned by a Mrs. Pat Jordan, the MLA for North Okanagan, who bought it new. She had placed a special order to get it as there were not many Nova SS convertibles available.
1963 was the first year that GM made a Nova SS and the only year that they made a Nova SS convertible. It came with bucket seats, a floor mounted automatic transmission shifter, special SS hubcaps and SS badging. However, they only made it with a 194 cu in. 6-cylinder engine and a 2-speed power glide transmission.
I first met Gillian at the A&W drive in in Kelowna with a group of friends. Then, when I was laying under my 55 Pontiac 2-door post installing dual exhausts using irrigation pipes, I saw these legs walk by. When I rolled out to see who was attached to them it was Gillian. I thought she was cute but didn’t actually get to know her until I was transferred to Vernon. She came up with a friend to look for a Vernon guy and I bumped in to her. They asked if I knew this guy and I did, but I invited them to come down to the place I was sharing with a couple of friends on Kalamalka Lake. We never did call that other guy.
One of my roommates owned an MG A so I asked him if I could borrow it for my first real date with Gillian. I drove down to Kelowna, picked her up and promptly ran out of gas on Harvey Ave. She actually agreed to a second date and the rest is history.
We fell in love with this little beauty in April, and in May, we drove it from Vernon down to Vancouver over the Hope Princeton to get married. Next we went to Victoria where the weather was perfect to have the top down. After lots of cruises around the Victoria area we took the ferry to Washington state and drove across northern Washington. We still laugh about the billboard that we saw out in the middle of a long road of boring country that said “don’t just sit there, nag your husband”. We came up into Nelson and toured around this area before driving to Osoyoos and up through the Okanagan to our new apartment in Vernon.
That was the first of many wonderful road trips we have enjoyed over the years.
Our daughter used the Nova in their wedding pictures along with the 1966 AC Cobra replica that her husband had built. Our son also used the Nova in their wedding pictures and our grandkids have all enjoyed cruises with the top down and often a stop for ice cream.
When we were living in North Delta we had 2 other cars but only had a 2-car garage. Gillian told Terry that she had arranged indoor storage for the Nova but what she really did was take the Nova to the local GM dealership where they did a complete restoration in time for a big surprise for Terry’s 40th birthday. It was painted the original Dark Aqua colour but with added metal flake and clear coat. The car looked better than new and has been garaged ever since. It has only been in the rain a handful of times.
When we retired we bought a place in Arizona to spend the winter. We trailered the Nova down with us for a couple of those winters. We said it reminded us so much of being in the Okanagan in the summer, particularly when we had the top down.
We moved back to the Okanagan to settle in Peachland 5 years ago. The top goes down in April and rarely goes up until late fall. We love cruising the Okanagan and joined in with the 2019 Peachland Wheel Nuts Show & Shine events on Tuesday evenings at the A&W throughout the summer. The A& W meetings with our old Nova make us feel young again and I believe others feel the same way.
Last winter the paint was getting tired so we had it repainted the same colour and, again, it looks better than new.
Peachland is now the latest chapter of the VCCC and we look forward to meeting members of other chapters and seeing a wide variety of cars.