Kandi Mikkelson

Growing up in Ryder during the seventies was grand because we didn.t know any better. The café was the popular hang-out and every kid in town knew that E1 on the jukebox played "Hot Rod Lincoln," recorded by Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. We all loved The Beach Boys, especially their car songs. I would sing along to "Little Deuce Coupe" and "409" and go home and dream of owning my own muscle car.

I hungered for a muscle car, favoring the Chevrolets with red, white, or navy blue exterior paint, but knew it was out of the question until I was out of high school and earning a paycheck. I wanted an SS model before I even knew that the SS stood for Super Sport. I like to think that I just had good taste at a young age and knew something collectible when I saw it.

I envied those schoolmates who drove muscle cars. One gal drove a white Rally Nova that was passed down to her from her brother. A guy from Makoti drove a shiny red Nova SS that was jacked up in back and sported slick, wide rear tires. This car was hot but not really what I needed or could handle, for that matter.

Another favorite that cruised the gravel roads was a "74 Nova, detailed with the Spirit of America package. This patriotic model was Chevrolet's way of getting ready for the nation's bicentennial. The car was white with red and blue pin striping and special decals of flags.

Now, many vehicles and years later, I am blessed with a husband who shares my love for Chevrolets. My "motor head" partner of six and a half years has a passion for "57 Chevrolets". He knew I was the gal for him when, on our second date, I quickly and correctly identified the year of his four-door sedan. I didn't tell him until awhile later that my grandparents owned one back when I was knobby-kneed kid.

Instead, I shared with him that I longed to own my dream muscle car, a Nova SS. He shared my enthusiasm for this model but was more interested in the engine and NOT the exterior paint color! We kept our eyes peeled for one as we attended car shows and auctions during our vacations and breaks from farming.

We'd see lots of Novas during our travels, but one or the other of us would find a flaw in each of them. Most often it was the cost, but sometimes an original car in an unpopular color would turn us away. In the meantime, we bought several publications and read up on the Nova and other muscle cars.

A few years back on a spur of the moment decision, we went to a car auction. My husband spotted it first and held back until he heard me gasp, knowing I had spotted it, too. There were no flaws on this "72 Nova SS. The red paint shone like a fine stone. The black interior was spotless. The SS trim only complimented the already perfect muscle car. The white-lettered tires were brand new and ready to make the trip back home. The 350 cubic inch, 350 horse power engine was clean and purred like a kitten. The factory air conditioning was a good selling point on this hot, summer day.

We hesitated a bit as the bids kept getting higher and higher, but my husband saw the excitement in my expression that I was trying so hard to hold back. His smile told me that he'd bid until we owned the car. My muscle car purred the hundred miles home, and I waved and smiled at everyone I passed along the way.

I got out the books and brochures we had purchased previously and memorized the facts on my car. By checking the vehicle identification number I learned that my Chevrolet Nova 2-Dr. Notch Back, Pillar Coupe with a 350 V8 4BC was assembled in Van Nuys, California. I compared my car to the 1971 models and discovered there were very few exterior changes. If you look closely you might notice that the front license plate mount is indented and there is a tiny change in the bevel of the hood; that is all.

There were 349,733 Novas built in 1972; and of these, 209,964 are V-8's, and only 12,309 cars have the SS equipment package. The SS trim package, which cost an additional $320 back in 1972, included the 350 4-V V-8 rated at 200 horse power, dual exhaust, F41 heavy-duty suspension, and E70 x 14 tires, besides the obvious SS emblems front and rear and simulated air intakes.

The factory price of this car was around $2471. Hmmm, if only I could have purchased the Nova 20 years ago.

(OK, Dakota Cruiser members! Share your special car memories with us! I'll be more than happy to interview you or you can submit your own writing. Thanks!! Kandi)