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1971 Chevy Nova - Back In Black

Troy Lacrone's 8-Second Small-Block Nova

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Tech Notes
What: '71 Chevrolet Nova

Owner: Troy LaCrone, who also happens to oversee the bitchin' Web site, enginecombination.com

Hometown: St. Clair, Missouri, which is the essence of Midwest small-town USA

Short-block: Dig your teeth into this. Engine builder Pat Musi began with a tall-deck, raised-cam Dart Iron Eagle block that allows plenty of room with its spread rails for the 3.75-inch-stroke Lunati 4340 steel crank and Manley 6.250-inch-long nitrous connecting rods. The 4.155-inch bore mates up with Venolia 15:1 compression forged pistons and C&A tool steel, nitrous ZG rings. Musi also spec'd the custom roller camshaft with 0.660-inch numbers. Keeping the oil contained and circulating is a Stef's aluminum oil pan and a Moroso billet-aluminum oil pump.

Heads: Here's where it gets interesting. Starting out with a pair of Pro Action (now RHS) 14-degree aluminum castings, Ron's Porting Service attacked the ports, generating a flow sheet that reports 396 cfm at 0.800-inch lift on the intake and 288 cfm at the same lift on the exhaust. This was accomplished using 2.200-inch titanium intakes and 1.625-inch steel exhaust valves from Manley. A Jesel shaft rocker system keeps the Manley pushrods in line and relies on K-Motion valvesprings to keep the valves from bouncing around.

Induction: Ron's Porting also created the aluminum sheetmetal intake that's required with a 14-degree head, since typical 23-degree-style intakes won't fit. The single Holley is a Musi-tuned 1,150-cfm Dominator. Plumbed neatly into each intake port is a Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) Fogger package that can be tuned for as much horsepower as Troy is willing to risk his wallet on making. For ignition, the motor relies on an MSD Pro Billet distributor combined with an MSD programmable Digital 7 box. That's where much of the 8-second magic may have to come from in managing all that nitrous power.

Exhaust: Lemons supplied the massive 211/48-inch ceramic-coated headers, while the rest of the exhaust consists of an equally large 411/42-inch ceramic-coated system with Bullet race mufflers.

Transmission: With all that nitrous, you don't need a lot of gear ratio, which is the reason for the Coan 1.76 First gear Powerglide and the 4,500-rpm stall speed Coan 9-inch-diameter torque converter combined with a transbrake just to make life exciting.

Rearend: Mark Williams is responsible for the narrowed 9-inch rear axle assembly, including the 4.10 gears, Posi, and 40-spline axles.

Suspension: Tim McAmis Race Cars in Hawk Point, Missouri, performed all the suspension work on the car including installing the full 'cage, ladder bars, wheeltubs, Koni coilover shocks, and parachute mount. The front suspension has Moroso trick front springs as well as a couple of other "secret tweaks." The front shocks were sourced from Competition Engineering, while the brakes on all four corners came straight from Strange.

Interior: The dash still resembles a stock '71 Nova but has had some significant revisions and additions, including a Grant steering wheel, an Auto Meter tach and gauges, and a B&M shifter. Troy also added a Longacre gauge-and-switch panel underneath the dash to control the Barry Grant fuel pump, electric water pump, and nitrous. The Jaz seats work with the RCI harness system to keep Troy firmly planted.

Wheels/Tires: Those are 15x10-inch Weld Racing wheels in the rear mounted with 29.5x10.5x15-inch Mickey Thompson ET Drags; on the front, skinny is the word with 15x4-inch wheels mounted with 27.5x4.5x15-inch Mickeys.

Body: Except for the tub job to mount the larger rear tires and the Harwood fiberglass hoodscoop, the remainder of the Nova is pushing 36 years old. Troy managed to color-sand and buff the 15-year-old paint, originally a urethane two-stage job that had just fallen on hard times.

Pit crew: Allen Casie, Tom Oermann, Tom Monahan, Brian Raymond, Mike Wells, and his wife, Tonya, for all her patience.

Performance: The dyno says it makes 820 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 and 1,013 hp at 6,500 on the "mild" tune-up. He's shooting for 1,250. On the track, the Nova has run 5.51 at 130 mph in the eighth. That equates to 8.50s in the quarter. Troy thinks there's a lot left in it, but you'd expect him to say that, right?

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