1972 Chevy Nova
Primer-gray Novas are so common that just about every dragstrip in America has some dude who shows up on test-and-tune night and thoroughly embarrasses himself. Dan Weiss isn’t that dude, and he’s got a fist full of 8-second timeslips to prove it. As this ’72 Nova’s ratty exterior suggests, there’s nothing elaborate about the combination—just a big motor in a small car with a very-well-sorted-out suspension. The result: 8.86 at 152 mph on leaf springs and 9-inch-wide tires. Now that’s impressive.
What Dan’s been able to accomplish with a $1,200 swap-meet find is low-buck hot rodding at its finest. Instead of wasting money on silly stuff like paint, Dan put his resources into building a wicked big-block and a driveline stout enough to handle it. The 540ci mill features a Dart block, a Callies crank and rods, Diamond 11.0:1 pistons, a Cam Motion 280/280-at-0.050 solid roller, AFR 357cc cylinder heads, an Edelbrock intake manifold, and a Braswell-tuned 1,150-cfm Dominator carb. The combo kicks out 940 hp in naturally aspirated trim, and Dan adds another 200 hp of nitrous through the fogger nozzles for good measure. Channeling the power rearward is a TSI Racing TH400 trans and a DTS Dana 60 rear end. Despite being handicapped with modestly sized 30x9x15 Hoosier radials, the Nova still cuts brisk 1.31-second 60-foot times, even with an alarmingly rudimentary suspension. The only aftermarket parts up front are Competition Engineering 90/10 shocks. Out back, the Nova sits on Calvert Racing leaf springs, Cal-Trac bars, and QA1 shocks. So how does Dan get such a simple setup to work so well? “It took a lot of trial and error to get the preload on the Cal-Tracs bars just right, but now we just leave them alone,” he explains. “With the preload now set, we just tune for the track conditions with the Edelbrock progressive nitrous controller.”
Good journalists should strive for impartiality, but when a truck is this freakin’ cool, it’s hard not to pick favorites. Aptly named the hillbilly pickup, Brian Schimmel’s ’55 Chevy 3100 wears its rust holes and crooked body lines with pride. There isn’t a straight panel on the thing, and it’s tough to distinguish where the surface rust ends and where the peeling paint begins. The patina is all part of the truck’s charm, but the real shocker are its rippling 8.75-at-152-mph timeslips.