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1971 Chevy Nova - The Sleeper

Just a Simple, 9-Second Street Small-Block Nova with a Squeeze of Nitrous

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Heads: Big power also means big ports, so Tom chose a pair of 230cc Dart Iron Eagle heads fitted with 2.05/1.60-inch stainless steel valves and large 1.625-inch diameter K-Motion valvesprings with titanium retainers just to keep the weight manageable. Rather than rely on stud-mounted rockers, Tom opted for a Jesel 1.7:1 shaft rocker system to keep the valvetrain stable at higher engine speeds. Of course, the heads are not nearly stock, with full-race porting completed by Ron's Porting Service located in St. Charles, Missouri.

Induction: Nothing less than a big, single-plane Edelbrock Super Victor with an 850-cfm Barry Grant Demon carburetor forms the induction path and is the platform for a simple NOS Cheater system pumping 250 hp through a single-stage plate system

Exhaust: All that nitrous also demands a very efficient exhaust exit strategy consisting of a set of 171/48-inch Hooker Super Comp headers and pair of 3-inch Fowmaster Delta series mufflers.

Transmission: Tom grinds transmissions for a living, but that doesn't mean there's some wild, exotic gearbox behind his nitrous'd small-block. In keeping with his understated intentions, that's a simple Turbo 350 behind the 383 with stock ratios and an ATI 8-inch torque converter that spins up to 4,500 rpm before it launches the Nova.

Rearend: Tom started with a DTS custom 12-bolt, adding Strange 35-spline axles and a spool that spins with a set of Strange 4.11 gears connected by a Mark Williams aluminum driveshaft. There's also a TA Performance aluminum cover to help keep everything properly preloaded.

Rear suspension: When you make enough power to push a 3,280-pound missile into the high 9s at 134-plus miles per hour, you'd better make sure the chassis is up to the task. Tom added a set of frame connectors to stiffen the body and then added a set of those new Calvert Racing ( Split-Leaf Mono springs that creates the opportunity to stiffen just the front-half spring section in comparison to the rear half. To these trick springs he also added CalTracs traction bars. Rounding out the package is a pair of Rancho adjustable shocks.

Front suspension: While the steering box and linkages are all vintage '70s, Tom retained the six-cylinder front coil springs to help in the business of weight transfer, damped with a pair of Competition Engineering adjustable front shocks. Tom has also retained the front sway bar, mainly to help the handling on the street, where the front springs and shocks make turning corners a bit of an adventure.

Wheels/Tires: The skinnies up front are a pair of Weld Draglite 15x5-inchers mounted with Mickey Thompson 27.5x4.5 tires while the rear sports a slightly wider package consisting of a pair of 15x10 Welds with Hoosier 28x11.5x15 gumballs.

Body: John Bardot of Luebbering, Missouri, laid down the Sikkens Mopar Bright Silver paint and, other than a mini-tubbing, the rest of this Nova is the way Chevrolet built it back in '71.

Cost: $20,000
Performance: 9.87 at 134.50 mph, with a 1.37 60-foot time.

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