It used to be green. It was lime green with a pea-soup shade inside and an aftermarket green vinyl roof to top it all off. Rob Mix bought the unfortunately hued '71 Nova from a friend who had been shopping it around the Minnesota area after rescuing it from the Colorado winter. But it sure was green.
Rob had been into cars since he bought a rustbucket '65 Impala as a midwestern teen and got into the Bondo thing. Then he got into the racing thing and over the years built a long list of speedy muscle that ended with a 1,200hp Chevelle and a fistful of 9-second timeslips.
A couple of years ago during a bench racing session, Rob and his friend Tyler De Armond were talking about renewable resources and some information they had heard about E85 fuel and its ability to withstand compression without falling apart. That's when the idea to build a project around the corn-based pump gas developed and the green car found its purpose.
"I figured I'd get used to the paint," Rob remembers. "I painted the engine and the wheels green and lived with it for a while. Then one day I stepped back, looked, and decided that this wasn't going to work." Rob took the car apart and sent it to a friend in West St. Paul for a little paint and body. It returned with a much more palatable shade of Commercial Bright Medium Blue.
While the car was away, Rob schemed with his friends to build a rowdy 383 that ran on pure corn ethanol and began to study the subject. His first victim was a Holley 750 HP carb that was drilled and filed and rebuilt for endless dyno sessions while they dialed in the small-block. When that carb became unusable, Rob discovered the many different carb parts offered by Proform and began to work with them to develop a prototype. As it developed, it occurred to Rob that there might be some people who would pay for a carb like this, and E85carbs.com was born. "It's not like people can't figure this out; it's just that they might find it convenient to buy a carburetor that is already done," says Rob.
During that time, a death in the family inspired him to finish the interior in the garage and get the car out on the road. "The car was built to be as close to stock as possible so I could retain its value," he says. With a new overdrive transmission installed, he drove around to car shows to gauge people's interest.
"It had a small-block with a single carb, and no one wanted to see a regular Nova," Rob recalls. So he went looking for a blower. "The blower was to make the car dramatic, so every little kid (and big kid) would want to look at the car."
It worked. The big blower and bright-blue paint roped in a Car Craft staffer at the Summer Nationals in St. Paul, Minnesota, for this photo shoot, and Rob's also driven it on some semifamous road tours around the country using fuelfinder.com as his guide. Even though the car doesn't look green anymore, you can still see that it is.