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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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Besides the emphasis on horsepower, the real secret behind Tom's very efficient elapsed time can be found in the rear springs and Calvert Racing CalTracs bars. Initially, Tom tried just the CalTracs bars with the stock multileaf rear-spring setup. "When we videotaped the launch, the car would hit the tires so hard it would actually compress the sidewall down to where the rim would almost touch the asphalt. Then it would push back, bounce the front-end, unload the rear, and spin the tires." After talking with Calvert owner John Calvert, Tom tried the new two-piece rear monoleaf spring system called the Split-Leaf Mono spring that comes in two overlapping pieces front to rear. By adding a stiffer front section, Tom was able to increase the compression stiffness to soften the initial hit on the rear tires. The new springs also increased ride height by 1 inch, which helped tire clearance. Tom went with John's suggestion for a shock as well, using a Rancho compression-adjustable shock, again to fine-tune the compression rate of the rear suspension. There's not even any preload in the system. With the rear suspension tuned and an original set of six-cylinder coil springs in the front with adjustable shocks, Tom's 60-foot times are not only quick at 1.37 seconds, but much more consistent as well. "It's great. It pulls the front wheels about 8-10 inches off the line and sets the front tires down so softly, I can't even feel it," Tom says. Tom may not feel it, but the victim in the lane next to him probably does.

Tech Notes
Who: Tom Oermann
What: '71 Nova
Where: Tom's from Lonedell, Missouri, the Show Me State.

Short-block: Instead of massive inches, Tom relies on quality parts from a relatively small 383 with an internally balanced 3.75-inch stroke and only a 4.030-inch bore. Cola makes the 4340 steel crank while Eagle 5.7-inch H-beam rods take the pressure from a set of Ross forged pistons squeezing the air and fuel at 11:1. Lubrication is important when you spin a small-block up with this much power so Tom uses a full kick-out Milodon pan and pump assembly.

Camshaft: Tom tapped Lunati for the camshaft duties, using an oval-track-style roller for durability measuring 258/268 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift with 0.600/0.618-inch lift with a 106 degree lobe-separation angle. There's also a Manley double roller chain involved with all this action and a set of 0.080-inch wall-thickness Comp Cams pushrods that make the connection between the roller followers and the rocker arms.

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