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Old 04-04-2005, 11:49 PM
Chevy454 Chevy454 is offline
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Default April '05 Feature Car

<p align="center"><font size="6" color="#00CC00">April 2005 Feature Car:</font></p><p align="center"><font size="5" color="#00CC00">Annie Hartweg's 1968 "#15" Gibb COPO Nova</font></p><table width="100%" border="0"><tbody><tr><td align="middle" width="100%"><p align="center"><font color="#00CC00">Specs:</font></p></td></tr></tbody></table><table borderColor="#000000" height="150" width="100%" border="0"><tbody><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Engine (factory):</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">L78 396/375hp</font></td></tr><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Transmission (factory):</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">THM400 automatic</font></td></tr><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Rear (factory):</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">4.10 posi</font></td></tr><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Selling Dealer:</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Fred Gibb Chevrolet, La Harpe, IL</font></td></tr><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Options:</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">COPO 9738, Custom interior, console</font></td></tr><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Exterior color:</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Grecian Green</font></td></tr><tr><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Interior color:</font></td><td vAlign="top" align="center" width="50%" height="21"><font size="3" color="#00CC00">Black, custom</font></td></tr></tbody></table>

<font color="#00CC00">Imagine yourself a young boy maybe 11 or 12 years old. You lived in a small town in western Illinois. Your father worked at the local Chevrolet dealership. Most of your childhood days were spent following your Dad around, hanging out with a particular salesman or even spending some time with the owner of the dealership. Some of your fondest memories are of the times you would hide in the back seat of one of the cars when your dad, with the salesman driving, would take one of the cars for a test drive. However, the car was not just any car. The dealership was not just any dealership. The owner of the dealership was not just any owner and the salesman was certainly not just any salesman.

Chuck Hartweg worked as the Service Manager and mechanic at the Fred Gibb Chevrolet in LaHarpe, Illinois for eighteen years. He also wrenched for Fred's Drag Racing team. The car? That would be "Little Hoss" with non-other than Herb Fox at the wheel. And the young boy… Dennis Hartweg. Almost 40 years later, he finally had a chance to ride in "Little Hoss" without having to hide. And yes, this time he sat in the front seat. Dennis spent most of his childhood days following his Dad around the Gibb dealership. He was there in 1967 when the first Camaros were delivered. He was one of the first kids to see the 1968 COPO Novas roll off the hauler. He was even there the night the very first 1969 ZL1 COPO Camaros came to town. He mentioned many times how he wished his Dad would have listened to him and bought one of those '69s. Even then, he knew those cars were special. Some of Dennis' best friends growing up were Connie and Nancy Gibb, Brian Fox, Jerry Burford, Ken Brown and when she was in town or at the races with her Dad, Valerie Harrell. These kids took their racing seriously and not just while they were at the strip. When they were not at the dealership or the races, they held their own races. Apparently there was a dirt road at the edge of town that served quite nicely as a drag strip for their bicycles. You question how serious a bunch of kids on their bikes can be? Well, they had a flagman, staging lanes, a Christmas tree, the whole bit. One day some sheets were missing from a clothesline… low and behold, Dennis was the first to "throw a chute" when he zoomed across the finish line! How one packs a chute to a bicycle is beyond me and I was hesitant to ask for fear of my own sheets disappearing. Not serious enough? Read on….One day the entire gang had gathered, everyone was ready to race. Dennis was nowhere to be found. Soon they heard some sort of motor…ah yes, there was Dennis coming around the corner on his Dad's lawn tractor, a wagon in tow and his bicycle loaded on the "hauler", packed chute and all, just like the big time. Obviously the kid was hooked right from the beginning! In addition to Herb Fox, Dick Harrell also drove for Fred. Dennis was lucky enough to accompany the team to most of the drag strips and was witness to Herb and Dick setting record after record with the "Little Hoss" Camaro, the Harrell tuned '68 Novas and the #1 ZL1Camaro. Dennis grew up with these cars and he had a lifetime dream of owning a Gibb COPO car particularly a Harrell tuned Gibb COPO. Through hard work and persistence, he made his dream come true...

<hr>
On April 14, 2001, Dennis purchased the #44 , 1968 Fred Gibb COPO 9738, Harrell tuned, 396-375HP Nova SS from Jude Hettick. From that day on, the driveway was never the same. June 10, 2001 he brought home the #15 car, also one of the COPO 9738 Novas. This car along with the #34 COPO 9738, 427 car was purchased from Kim Howie. In August of 2002,another dream came true for Dennis when he was able to acquire his first 1969 ZL1 Camaro from John Barrett of Phoenix, AZ. Tears filled his eyes when that car was backed off of the car hauler.

Dennis was a very busy man in 2001 collecting Novas and searching for parts for each of them. The most extensive energy went into the #15 car as it was the first car Dennis wanted to see restored. Hour upon hour was spent on research. Literally dozens of e-mails went back and forth between Dennis, other owners and people willing to share their knowledge. Ray Morrison, Marlin Spotts, Kim Howie and Allen Cardo are just a few who deserve many thanks for their contributions. It took months locating and purchasing parts. It was not uncommon for Dennis to use the kitchen sink to clean a carburetor. Brake shoes and other pieces parts were often spread across the kitchen table. The basement became center stage as row upon row of parts were carefully laid out. Weekends were often spent traveling back and forth to MO delivering parts for the project, taking pictures of the progress or simply checking up on his new found love.

The #15 COPO Nova was special to Dennis. In a letter dated July 24, 1968, Mr. W. E. Dismuke, NHRA Technical Director, Mr.Dismuke writes to B. Porterfield, "As we discussed, fifty (50) 1968 Chevy II's were built and delivered to Fred Gibb Chevrolet, La Harpe, Illinois. These Chevy II's were all equipped with the L-78, 375 HP, 396 cu. in. engine and Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. Delivery of these fifty (50) units was completed by July 15, 1968." In a letter dated March 8, 1991, Fred Gibb writes ( in ref. to the #15 car), "The above vehicle was one of fifty 1968 Chevrolet Super Sport Chevy II's I purchased under a Chevrolet Central Office Production Order in order to qualify the engine /transmission combination for NHRA competition. These vehicles were all optioned with the L78 engine, special M40 transmission, custom interior with bucket seats and console and a 4.10 positraction rear axle. Four exterior colors were selected in the fleet order: Tripoli Turquoise, Matador Red, Fathom Blue and Grecian Green." Mr.Gibb concluded his letter with the following; "I believe that these Chey II's represent a Chevrolet benchmark as the first production vehicles built with both a high performance solid lifter engine and an automatic transmission."
By the time Dennis bought the 427 car, the #15 car had been sent to a restoration shop in St Louis, MO. After many problems, the least of them being the paint job on the car, Dennis pulled the car out of said shop and sent it on to a different shop in south west MO. The car had already been repainted twice and would soon undergo a third and final painting. Parts came in almost everyday. Some were then shipped on to the restoration shop, some were sent out for their own restoration and then sent out to be installed on the car. It went on for just over a year. There were many delays and more than just a little frustration. Putting a 33 year old car back to its original condition is not an easy undertaking. However, patience, diligence, love for the project, somehow manage to see you through.
The car literally was under restoration for over a year. Dennis was able to bring the car home just days before unveiling it at the November 2002, Chevy Vettefest in Chicago. In preparation for the big day, Dennis and Dennis Cumby created a display board for the car. It reads:

"When these rare Novas first appeared in the NHRA Super Stock scene, they were referred to as "Mystery Novas" because GM did not offer a Big Block automatic in the '68 Chevy II. However, Fred Gibb, a Chevrolet Dealer and drag racing enthusiast from LaHarpe,IL used COPO (Central Office Production Order) #9738 to enable Chevrolet to build 50 of these special Hi-performance Super Sport Novas. The 1968 Fred Gibb COPO Nova represents a benchmark for Chevrolet as the first production vehicles built with a Hi-performance solid lifter engine and an experimental 3 speed turbo-hydramatic transmission. These cars were specifically built to compete against Ford and Chrysler in the NHRA Super Stock wars. Of the original fifty 1968 COPO Novas built, only 12 are know to exist today."

That weekend at Vettefest in Chicago was one of the best weekends Dennis ever had. He was very proud of his car, the Gold Spinner it was awarded, more than happy to share it with any who were interested and best of all, he was living a dream come true. - Annie Hartweg </font>
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  #2  
Old 04-05-2005, 12:10 AM
CROSSRAMJL8 CROSSRAMJL8 is offline
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

COOL CAR - A REAL SLEEPER
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Old 04-05-2005, 12:13 AM
Kim_Howie Kim_Howie is offline
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

I Still love that car!!! Dennis and I became good friends during the short time I knew him. Congrats Annie
Great car. Kim
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Old 04-05-2005, 12:16 AM
JChlupsa JChlupsa is offline
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

No Annie its not April Fools and its to late for St Pats Day so what else can the selection of this GIBB-COPO Chevy II be but Awesome. Very nice car Annie and since I smiled when I saw it posted I know theres some guy up there thats bragging to everyone around all about you. Congrats on the Feature Car and look forward to seeing it again at SCR8.
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Old 04-05-2005, 12:31 AM
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

Annie... We had the pleasure of talking a short while back! Stunning Nova! Best of luck!
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Old 04-05-2005, 12:37 AM
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DarrenX33 DarrenX33 is offline
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

What a great car and a very nice write up on it as well. Congrats Annie.
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:00 AM
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

Great Car!! Congrats Annie, love that color. You better watch out for some of those characters standing behind the car in the SCR7 pic though
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:39 AM
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

Great looking car... that's my favorite color for the Gibb COPO cars.
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:50 AM
Jeff Murphy Jeff Murphy is offline
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

Great story from a great lady! This car suits you a lot more than that black one...witch or no witch.
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:52 AM
Chevy454 Chevy454 is offline
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Default Re: April '05 Feature Car

That's what I thought when I put that picture up there, M! Some shady characters hangin' around in the shadows!!

Love the color of that thing...
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