Car Craft
Click here to find out more!

1966 Chevy II Nova - Mmmm, Nitrous

By Tommy Lee Byrd, Photography by Tommy Lee Byrd

The word "stock" gets thrown around a lot in the go-fast hobby. If you don't believe us, just look at the world of outlaw drag racing, which is filled with cars that claim to have stock suspension. Even though stock doesn't always mean what you think, Shannon Medley's Chevy II is a killer example of a fast car using stock parts. It's a budget build that relies on a healthy dose of nitrous oxide, but it's bad fast and catches everyone by surprise when it busts off mid-6-second passes in the eighth-mile.

It's a down-and-dirty setup, and you won't be impressed by the car's finish quality, paintjob, or interior. You will, however, be impressed by the unbelievably simple combination that seems to work flawlessly. Shannon started with a solid 1966 Chevy II body that he picked up for $4,500 and stuffed a stock, high-mileage LT1 under the hood. Everything else is very low-tech, but the car proves to really get down when the spray is in full force.

Shannon drives the car on his daily commute and races it every chance he gets, as well as an occasional trip to the local cruise night. He definitely gets a lot of use out of his budget beater, and his combination actually works to his advantage for regular driving characteristics. A high rearend gear, tight converter, and stock engine make for a very fuel-efficient machine, generally netting 24 mpg. Proving the car's reliability, Shannon drove it to I-40 Dragway, a 200-mile round-trip from his home in Ringgold, Georgia, for a test-and-tune session. The lack of cage or any other racing equipment makes it tough to pass tech at most tracks, but Shannon sneaks by from time to time.

So far, with numerous test-and-tune sessions, Shannon has run a best of 6.59 at 103.9 mph in the eighth-mile. In case you're trying to do the math, that's somewhere in the 10.30 range in the quarter-mile—pretty strong stuff for a stock LT1 on nitrous.

Even though Shannon spent a hefty sum for the body, he used cheap parts for the rest of the build, scrounging swap meets and his personal stash of speed parts. The two-stage dry nitrous system is homemade, and it's yet another dirt-cheap setup that seems to work well for this combination. So, no matter your definition of "stock," keep this Chevy II in mind anytime you're planning to race someone with a stock engine. You might be surprised by the outcome when a low-buck beater shows you its faded and cracked taillights.

TECH NOTES
Who: Shannon Medley
What: 1966 Chevy II
Where: Ringgold, Georgia

Engine: Shannon bought the LT1 complete for $500. It had 175,000 miles on it, but he didn't mind the wear and tear. He yanked the heads and did some mild porting but retained the 1.94- and 1.50-inch valves for the sake of simplicity and cost. A set of Comp Cams 1.6 roller tip rockers is pretty much the only modification in the long-block. The stock fuel tank is in place, but a 255-lph Walbro pump feeds the LT1 with 93-octane pump gas. An MSD 6AL box and Timing Control keep the engine alive under heavy doses of nitrous. Shannon freed up a few horsepower by swapping to a Meziere electric water pump, and then he bolted on a set of swap-meet headers with 15⁄8-inch primaries. A pair of Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers and 21⁄2-inch piping help to offer a low rumble, but even a trained ear wouldn't expect this thing to run mid-6s.

Nitrous: This nitrous system is so simple it makes you wonder how it works so well. It's a dry shot, which is generally a quick way to kill an engine, but Shannon has it figured out and actually set it up with two stages of spray. He leaves the line on a 100hp shot (actuated by a wide-open throttle switch), and then piles on a 125hp shot on top of that as soon as the car transfers weight. The nitrous nozzles are simply screwed into the plastic intake elbow.

Transmission: Yet another frustratingly simple aspect of Shannon's Chevy II is the transmission and torque converter. The TH350 three-speed has a B&M Shift Improver kit, but that's it. And the converter? It's a bone-stock replacement unit, which Shannon likes because it is super-tight. It only stalls to 1,500 rpm, but Shannon sprays it hard and generally cuts a 1.45 60-foot time.

Chassis: There isn't much to say about the chassis. This thing is bone-stock, aside from some swap-meet slapper bars and Summit Racing 90/10 shocks. The original leaf springs are completely worn out, but the car transfers weight really well, so that's a good thing. The rearend is an 8.2-inch 10-bolt, which has stock axles, a mini-spool, and 3.08:1 gears. Shannon says the car had Aerospace discs brakes up front when he bought it, so he kept it as is. The car does not have subframe connectors or a rollbar, but it's a full-second quicker than the rollbar threshold at his local track.

Exterior: Shannon straightened up the body and gave it one of his trademark rattle-can flat-black paintjobs. It's missing a lot of trim and emblems, but the car has a decent body and has lots of potential, if he ever decides to paint it. The only body modification is the master kill switch in the back-up lens, as well as the Harwood fiberglass hood, which Shannon picked up for $100.

Interior: It's not pretty, and it probably isn't very safe, but the ratty interior definitely adds to the car's sleeper appeal. A few necessary gauges and a B&M Shift Improver are the only modifications inside.

Wheels/Tires: The Chevy II rolls on a set of Weld Pro Star wheels, measuring 15x4 inches, up front, and 15x7 inches, out back. Shannon has run a set of 26x8.5-15 slicks in the past, but recently switched to a set of Mickey Thompson drag radials, sized at 235/60R15. The tiny tires handle the hard launches very well.

Performance: This is where it gets interesting. Shannon's Chevy II looks rough and sounds tame, so it gets some serious attention when it yanks the left front tire off the line and blasts down the eighth-mile. So far, he has run a best of 6.59 at 103.9 mph (10.20s at 130 in the quarter-mile). Let's not forget about the 24 mpg when Shannon drives it to work.

Budget: Shannon laid down $4,500 for the solid Chevy II body and bought the LT1 engine for $500. Then, add in a couple grand for odds and ends, and he has a grand total of $7,500 invested in the whole thing.

  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • View Full Article
By Tommy Lee Byrd
Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!
73 comments
Joe Waddell
Joe Waddell

What's the diff. it's the same car......

Bokhry Mahmod
Bokhry Mahmod

Hafiz sekarang aku main kereta aje Sport rim mcm mcmana

Jim McClenny
Jim McClenny

Wish I has that car to put my motor in. Would be an instant 8.50 street strip ride.

Charlie Posey
Charlie Posey

Hard to beat LS power for reasonable cost and low maintenance daily driver fun these days.

Keith Costa
Keith Costa

Not for nothin but that's a 67' head light bezel, grill. Just sayin. My 66-SS is a 355, turbo 350, 4:11 posi. Works perfect.

Mike Perry
Mike Perry

Some one buy this for me please!

Sharon Smoak Engstrom
Sharon Smoak Engstrom

Your dad used to have one just like this that he raced on quarter track I used to help him work on it

Dean Henderson
Dean Henderson

small block 355 with bitchin flowing heads and centrifugal blower, (just to keep it stealthy), non-roller cam just above mild to limit overlap, (again stealthy). 500 ft.lbs.@5500rpm. Sweet.

Shannon Medley
Shannon Medley

thanks for all the likes. the car is a 67, just a miss print or lack of communication.

Jeffrey Campbell
Jeffrey Campbell

I bought a wagon the same way, I wanted a '67 and saw one for sale, until we did the paperwork, it stated different!"Back in the day" if a new untitled car was sold prior to the new year, they were often titled as the year that it sold in. different states had different rules.

John Gay
John Gay

My pump gas '70 'Cuda,BB/727trans with a Gear Vendor, runs mid 10's,street driven,on a couple Anti Tours as well

John Nolan
John Nolan

How about a 79 Chevelle with a 472 Caddy?

Rdbell Richard
Rdbell Richard

572 Merlin with a tremec 5 speed and a d 60 reared from strange in a 68 chèvre is perfect

Tony Ricketts
Tony Ricketts

A Ray Hice built 406 small block with a TH 400 tranny.

Debbie N Mario
Debbie N Mario

I always been a big fan of the sbc motors but now it's the LS motors!! Junkyard 6.0 with carb.good cam on a 3,000lbs car is good for low 7s in the 1/8

Trapper John Crumet
Trapper John Crumet

Probably because either he couldn't find any'66 parts, or he bought it that way, or that's the way he wanted it to look.

Andy Wagoner
Andy Wagoner

5.3 with a 88mm turbo, th400 and a gear vendors overdrive and a 9 inch.

Rod Wilson
Rod Wilson

Always wanted one of these sweet Nova's! Great timeless looking rides.

Joe Bartus
Joe Bartus

A 62 nova 2 with a 409 425hp with a 4 speed Muncie. It's oem with just over 10k on it.

Jeremy L Foster
Jeremy L Foster

Best Part about old cars is the mess of awesome lines they have,some curved forward. Some backwards, then more forwards: )

Car Craft