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1970 Chevrolet Nova - Spool

Terry Sorensen's Turbocharged LS Nova

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You can't call it a sleeper. Terry Sorensen probably could have built it like all the other plainclothes pedestrians—another sheepish Nova cloaking evil internals. Instead, Terry went with a cowl hood and alluring Candy Red Lipstick paint. Maybe this was all part of the plan. You see it on the street and it doesn't sound angry, so you dismiss it as a bright-red poseur. And that would be a mistake.

Under the hood is classic Car Craft motivation: a budget, all-aluminum 5.3L LS engine with stock pistons, stock heads, and a stock GM LS6 cam all righteously connected to a big BorgWarner turbocharger that shoves air through a simple carburetor. There's no intercooler, just a big turbo and a little 5.3L LS engine. In keeping with the low-budget theme, even the exhaust manifolds are iron truck pieces adapted to direct the exhaust toward the sizzle side of the turbo. In fact, the whole Nova is full of low-buck approaches to going fast. Terry hasn't had time to run it at the track, or at least if he has, he isn't talking.

But the implications are clear. Big power numbers are going to be easy to come by because this engine has jumped on the E85 fuel train. Not only does the motor benefit from the excellent octane, but the alcohol also minimizes the heat that naturally builds when you squeeze air. Terry isn't forthcoming with power numbers, but we think this combo is capable of upward of 800 hp—and perhaps more. So there you have it, a street car that's simple, powerful, and overly effective—all factors that contribute to pegging the Fun Meter.

Tech Notes

Who: Terry Sorensen

What: '70 Chevrolet Nova

Where: Coon Rapids, MN, built along what used to be called the Red River Ox Cart Trail (honest)

Engine: Many car crafters don't know that GM built a bunch of aluminum 5.3L LS engines, including the first engine used in the original SSR pickup. Terry just installed a stock LS6 cam with 0.550/0.550-inch lift and 204/218 degrees duration with a stock lobe-separation angle that makes the idle near stock. The beauty of a turbocharger is that it will make power even with a nearly stock engine. Terry added LS9 valvesprings and better head bolts. For the induction side, he spec'd an Edelbrock Victor, Jr single-plane intake mounting a CSU 750-cfm blow-through carburetor. All this is hooked to a monster BorgWarner AirWerks turbocharger. The abbreviated version is this is an S475 turbo with a 100mm inlet worthy of making 500–800 hp. This is becoming a common turbo situation, where the turbo and the inlet system are worth more than the engine! Most of the fabrication work involved making the tubing and angle-milling the exhaust manifolds. Terry's a machinist, so that wasn't much trouble at all. He also fitted an Aeromotive A1000 pump to feed enough fuel to make sure the engine is always happy. And a stock truck engine coil pack is all there is to light the spark. No trick parts here.

Transmission: Terry adapted a TH400 behind the little LS and used an Edge 6,000-stall converter—at least that's what it says on the tech sheet. He uses a trans brake to initiate all this violence.

Rearend: How's this for keeping the budget down? We're about to do a story on swapping a Fox Mustang 8.8 rear into our S-10 truck, and Terry has done the exact same thing by using a junkyard 8.8 with 31-spline Strange axles and a set of Strange gears. The 8.8 is every bit as strong as a 12-bolt and a whole lot less expensive to build. That's true car crafting.

Chassis: Smith Racecraft supplied the traction device you see bolted underneath the monoleaf springs. Competition Engineering supplied the shocks front and rear and Moroso dialed in the front springs. The front brakes are stock Nova discs with Mustang GT rear discs to match the 8.8. If it sounds simple, that's because it is.

Interior: The gauges are "cheap Autogages" from Auto Meter. Add the Hurst Quarterstick shifter and an Autogage tach and shift light, and there's not much else to talk about. Simple, yet effective.

Rollers: The only tires that really matter are the 28-inch-tall, 9.0-inch-wide Hoosiers mounted on a set of no-name five-spoke wheels. Terry says the front tires are "random tires from Norm's," a local tire store.

Thanks: Friends who helped this happen include Tremayne Brown; TNT Speed Shop; and Mean Street Performance in Coon Rapids; and of course his wife, Maria, and his two kids, Colton and Max.

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40 comments
Quenton Paul
Quenton Paul

Thats different it must heat up pretty fast with no intercooler I wonder about the turbo lag since your running a carby instead of injector's

Meer Janaan
Meer Janaan

Super ingen car v 9ice •☆☆☆:)

Bob Strongarms
Bob Strongarms

Nice and simple install.....no bulky intercooler and tubing.

Roger Worley
Roger Worley

Haha, s475 4in inlet good for "500-800" you car craft guys are hilarious. I think that altitude is only achievable by jets, not novas.

Erik Koshman
Erik Koshman

Jesus, talk about a straight shot... Danny

Bob Maasen
Bob Maasen

One is enough. unless your at bonnville salts . Then better get real !

Daniel Puentes
Daniel Puentes

Joel Baez Joan Rojas Cesar Martinez. A budget build.

Tom Ledford
Tom Ledford

makes up for it with lots of fuel..im guessin

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