In simpler times, the bad guys always wore black. In today's world of camouflaged urban warfare, it's more difficult to distinguish good from bad. It used to be the polished gleam machines were just poseurs, the fast ones foretold their intentions with outrageous idle characteristics, and the primered cruisers were works in progress. Now primer is in and that gloss-challenged machine sitting next to you at the light with its near-stock idle is packin' a turbocharged small-block. That's what Chad Moskrey drives-a cloaking device cleverly disguised as a primered '67 Nova.
The Nova looks like a machine in need of a little jeweler's rouge for the rough edges, but in reality, that's exactly the carefully articulated image Chad desires to portray. I almost walked right by it during a Missouri car show until the open engine bay gently nudged me with its twin-turbocharged Gen III small-block. There's something inherently troubling about a primered Nova stuffed with a pair of turbochargers. It's like looking down the barrels of a side-by-side shotgun-it's unnerving because you understand the designed malevolence. A quick glance into the interior revealed a manual transmission lever and a clutch pedal. The car all but whispered, "Go ahead-ask."
Chad was lounging in a lawn chair, sipping a clear liquid when I began my questions. It was obvious from the moment the conversation began that the Nova's primered, no-nonsense image directly reflected its owner's head-on approach to life.
I began with the classic, "How big's the engine?"
"It's an iron 6.0L with ported LS6 heads."
"And the turbos?"
"They're Precision 64 mm. We made more than 1,000 hp on the chassis dyno just like you see it here. This is Blake Hughes; he did the installation."
I met Blake, who could pass for Chad's brother-not so much that they're physically alike but rather they exude the same confidence and aggressive attitude you see in guys who know what they're doing. Here were two guys who don't mind working hard, don't sweat the small stuff, and aren't afraid of leaning on their equipment-hard. The six-speed was the obvious clue.
"I noticed you're running a manual trans. How do you make it live?" I asked.
"It's a T56 that's had the Viper treatment done to it. So far, it's been great." Chad looked at me and then added, "I built it to drive without worrying about scratching it."
I spent a little more time walking around the car and everything pointed to this being the real deal. The rat rod craze has fired off a whole new subculture that has spun the ratty, flat-black image into a finished piece. Few cars, however, pack the substance to reinforce the stance. To some, it's enough to create the bad boy, racer look. With Chad's Nova, form collides directly with function. During my walk-around, I noticed an odd vertical seam in the front third on both rear wheelwells, which prompted another query.
Chad smiled with that one. "This was originally a four-door grandma car. It was really nice with only 40,000 miles on it. I sell Nova parts, so I had the pieces to convert it into a two-door post. I wanted people to see the seam, so we left it."
The story kept getting richer. We agreed to meet the following day to photograph the Nova and fill in the details. We both had a full schedule and didn't hook up until the end of the next day. Chad looked a little rough, like the previous 24 hours had not gone well and some sort of mechanical mayhem had predated his arrival. As I walked up to the car, he was unloading a T56 out of the trunk, ceremoniously kicking it as it teetered on the asphalt parking lot.
"We broke that last night, just after a hard pass," Chad offered. "I lost everything except Fourth. I think the cluster's broke."
Because I watched the car roll in, and knowing six-speeds are relatively uncommon, my next question was almost superfluous.
"So what's in it now?"
"Oh, Blake had a spare six-speed at his shop. We spent last night putting it back together," as if that was what normal people do on a Sunday evening with a couple of friends and the local pizza guy on speed dial. "Yeah, I gotta be careful with this one, though. It's a stock box, so I can't lean on it. There aren't anymore spares!"
Then the stories started. "We had to limp it back to Blake's shop because we only had Fourth gear. We musta ran about a dozen stoplights because we couldn't stop. This little motor will pull right down to 1,000 rpm with the fuel injection. It's cool."
I'm hooked. Chad beats on his Nova like its last appearance was on Grand Theft Auto, his buddies all like to thrash, and we learned later that it's run 10.16 at 141 mph. Best of all, Chad's not afraid to pass along the credit. Hats off to Blake Hughes for making all the TIG welds and imagineering happen. David Veldeman, Chris Huels, and Jerry Durty were also big contributors, but Chad says he couldn't have built this car without Blake's 417 Motorsports. Friends and fast cars-you don't need much more than that.
Who: Chad Moskrey
What: '67 Chevy II
Where: Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the cheeseheads live-but by now he's moved back to Des Moines.
This is by far the coolest part of this whole car. Blake Hughes owns 417 Motorsports in Springfield, Missouri, and he built the 6.0L iron block 408ci stroker motor starting with a 4.00-inch stroke Callies forged-steel crank, Compstar rods, and a set of Wiseco blower pistons. The Cam Motion hydraulic roller cam is not worth detailing only because the engine idles almost like a stocker at 850 rpm. The heads are a better story because Blake started with a set of LS6 castings that were then ported but retain the stock 2.00/1.55-inch sizes. ARP head studs and GM MLS (multilayer steel) gaskets conspire to keep the heads in place-a wise move when the plan revolves around twisting up a pair of Precision 64mm turbochargers to 20 psi. There's also a custom-fabricated 417 Motorsports intercooler with a core designed to chill 1,200 hp. A FAST 72mm throttle body is mounted to a 417 elbow that adapts to an Edelbrock Victor Jr. LS1 EFI manifold. The whole affair is controlled by a GM computer and tuned using Chris Huels' expertise with HP Tuner software in speed density mode. Chad reports that once it was tuned, the throttle response and overall part-throttle performance was excellent. An Aero-motive A1000 electric in-line pump delivers the fuel to Precision 96 lb/hr injectors. Blake also built the custom 13/4-inch headers that feed to a pair of 3 1/2-inch electric cutouts so Chad can get noisy when he feels like it. Chad also uses a twin-12-inch Spal electric fan assembly along with an Optima battery that ensures everything remains cool.
With four-digit power, Chad knew he needed a trans that wouldn't fold under pressure. TIC Performance delivered a Viper-spec T56 trans and Chad bolted it up to a Quick Time bellhousing using a Spec 11-inch flywheel and twin-disc clutch and pressure-plate assembly. The problem with the trans on our photo day turned out not to be catastrophic, and TIC quickly rebuilt it.
Despite the massive power numbers this Nova can generate, it all funnels through an externally stock 12-bolt rearend housing using a set of 3.42:1 Motive gears and Moser 30-spline axles that eliminate the whole C-clip idea and add a sense of reliability.
Chevy IIs are not known for superior front suspension design, which is why the first thing Chad did was convert the little X-body over to a Total Cost Involved front suspension clip. This made adding power rack-and-pinion steering much simpler along with the Mustang II front spindles, control arms, and the QA1 12-way adjustable shocks. In the rear, Chad retained the stock monoleaf springs with assistance from Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link bars and QA1 shocks.
Despite the heroic horsepower numbers, Chad didn't go overboard on the brakes, perhaps because he knows better than to try to blitz 200 mph. The TCI front suspension clip includes standard 11-inch rotors and GM calipers attached to the front spindles while the rear presents even more shocking stock 9 1/2-inch drum brakes.
Chad did want to give his Nova a little splash, so starting at the front, he went with a pair of Boyd Coddington 17-inch Junkyard Dogs with 235/45R17 Cooper radials. Out back, a larger set of 18-inch Boyds mount 245/40R18 Coopers. For the dragstrip, Chad opts for a set of lowbrow steelies with 15-inch M/T ET Fronts with a sticky set of 26x11.50-15-inch M/T ET Streets that valiantly attempt to maintain adhesion.
With most cars, we don't even list body mods. But with Chad's Nova, there's plenty to talk about. Let's start with the fact that this used to be a four-door. Chad whacked off the whole rear section, added two-door sedan doors, new B- and C-pillars, quarter-panels, and a whole bunch of other parts. Jim Beam Auto Body in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, did the sheetmetal work, but Chad will proudly tell you he did the paint job with help from Krylon.
Besides the granny parking-brake handle and the underdash factory tissue dispenser he turned into a gauge panel ("That really upsets guys. I had one guy really yell at me for that, but it was already dented, so I don't care."), the main additions are a 10-point rollbar with side bars and the six-speed shifter. Toss in an Auto Meter tach and Stewart-Warner gauges and that's all there is to tell.
Performance: On the chassis dyno, the 408 made 1,088 RWHP at 20 psi of boost on race gas. On the more conservative pump gas tune of 12 psi, the numbers are still impressive at 786 RWHP. At the track, this equates to merely a traction-limited 10.16 at 141 mph. The mph indicates the Nova is making enough steam to run 9.40s, and this is at 3,340 pounds. Oh, and just for fun, the Nova gets a steady 12 mpg in the city and 22-plus on the highway. Do we feel inadequate?