Brand recognition is something all companies strive for in their products, and brand loyalty is the outcome they wish to achieve. Companies spend millions of dollars trying to create an aura that will attract the attention and emotion of the prospective buyer, hoping that once the buyer becomes an owner, he will continue to buy products from that company.
Car guys are some of the most fiercely loyal shoppers, and it's rare for a guy to switch brands in the middle of his life. It's even more rare, and possibly sacrilegious, for a Mopar guy to switch camps. The expression "Mopar or no car" is often referenced with all the sincerity of an ancient Zen mantra.
That may be why it was so surprising to hear that Jeff Beaufoy, owner of this sweet '70 Nova, used to drive nothing but Chrysler products. His list of former whips was impressive, too: a '67 GTX, a '71 Charger, and a '71 Satellite Sebring Plus he piloted to several Top Eliminator wins.
Stuff changed, however, when Jeff was sent overseas for work. What was supposed to be a few-months assignment turned into a six-year commitment, and when Jeff arrived back on our shores in 2005, he returned to a classic car market bloated by speculators at high-profile auctions and realized he could no longer afford anything wearing a Pentastar that was worthy of building.
Still, he couldn't go without a car, and desperation allowed him to lower his standards (our words, not his) and look at non-Chrysler iron. He explained it to us this way: "A coworker told me about this Nova for sale. I'd always had a soft spot in my heart for Novas ever since I was a teenager. I used to frequent Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove, Wisconsin, and I'd never miss a weekend when Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins was in town with Grumpy's Toy, his wheelstanding Nova." The Nova in question had already been treated to a rotisserie restoration and wore its current green and silver paint scheme, but the car's owner could no longer afford to keep it. Jeff wasted no time on the transaction, and the Nova was soon home in his garage.
So the paint and bodywork were done already, which was a good thing because Jeff says he's "no good at that stuff," but the drivetrain needed immediate attention. "Everything leaked. It was leaving spots everywhere." Clearly, the 327/T-10/12-bolt running gear had run its course. Jeff had it all out within two weeks of his purchase and began a mechanical refurbishing that would take just under two years to complete.
Now it rules the streets with a massive-inch Bill Mitchell small-block and a Tremec five-speed transmission. Yes, he takes some heat from longtime friends in the local Mopar club when he shows up at events in his Chevrolet, but it's all in good fun.
However, Jeff still clings to some of his former Mopar ethos-the Dana 60 rear and the body-colored engine compartment (instead of the standard GM chassis black) are the last vestiges of Mopar influence on this newly Chevy guy. Look at the skeleton of a whale-it still has hip bones even though there are no longer legs to attach to. What does this prove? That you truly can never escape your roots.
Who: Jeff Beaufoy
What: '70 Chevrolet Nova
Where: Prior Lake, Minnesota, named after Charles H. Prior, superintendent of the Minnesota division of the Mil-waukee Railroad from 1871 to 1886.
Engine: Jeff spent hours considering a number of 383 crate engines before going with something a little different. He wanted a small-block to keep the front end light but with big-block displacement. He finally decided on a Bill Mitchell World Products 454-inch Mouse. To get that kind of displacement out of a small-block Chevy, World starts with a 4.25-inch bore and adds a 4.00-inch stroke crank. That crank is a forged piece from Eagle and swings Eagle H-beam rods and forged Mahle pistons. The cylinder heads are also from World Products and house Manley 2.08- and 1.60-inch stainless valves, Scorpion 1.6:1 roller rocker arms, and Pioneer valvesprings. The cam is a custom solid-lifter grind from Comp and specs out at 250/255 degrees duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift and 0.624-/0.574-inch lift at the valves through his 1.6 rockers. The cam is ground on a 110.5-degree lobe-separation angle.
Induction: This big-inch small-block has the potential to move a ton of air. To keep the inlet unrestricted, a Motown single-plane intake manifold and 1050 Dominator top off the engine. Jeff was a little skeptical of World's insistence on using such a big carburetor, but the tuning by Advanced Engine Design (AED) of Richmond, Virginia, was spot-on. He says the Dominator is totally streetable, idles well, and gets an astonishing 16 mpg on the highway. Yes, that's partly due to the overdrive transmission, but still . . . Jeff is also quick to point out his trick, Quick Fuel mechanical piston fuel pump that is capable of delivering 204 gallons per hour-plenty of capacity to keep that Dominator filled up.
Exhaust: That's a pair of Hooker Super Competition headers bolted up to the engine. Under the car, you'll find a custom-bent 3-inch exhaust system with the ubiquitous Flow-master mufflers.
Ignition: To light his fire, Jeff employed the use of a Prestolite HEI distributor, an Accel 276 coil, and 8mm wires from World Products.
Power: Jeff has had his engine in the dyno cell, where it cranked out 610 hp and 605 lb-ft. He has not taken it to the dragstrip yet but is hoping for low 11s there.
Transmission: The car was originally a four-speed, and Jeff wanted to keep the manual trans but needed an extra ratio for highway driving. He decided on a TKO-600 kit from Keisler. That five-speed's overdrive allows for comfortable cruising at highway speeds, and Jeff has already completed one Hot Rod Power Tour(r) in his Nova.
Rearend: Needing a stout rear to handle the power, Jeff bought a Strange Dana 60 built by Drive Train Specialists in Warren, Michigan. He says the staff was great to deal with and spent lots of time on the phone getting all the specs on his car to determine the best final drive ratio. He runs with a 4.10:1 ring-and-pinion by Dana Spicer and Strange 35-spline axles.
Suspension: The Nova's suspension is all stock save for QA1 front shocks and Lakewood traction bars.
Chassis: Like Camaros, Novas are unibody cars, so all the standard chassis-stiffening tricks work here. The Nova's been augmented with subframe connectors and an eight-point rollcage that dates back to the mid-'70s-when this Nova was a dedicated race car.
Brakes: Stock 10-inch discs are up front, while Currie 11-inch drums are out back.
Wheels/Tires: After much debate, Jeff decided on American Torq-Thrust II 16x7 and 16x8 wheels mounted with a pair of Kumho Ecsta SPT 205/55R16 tires (front) and Mickey Thompson ET Street 255/50R16 tires (rear).
Paint/Body: As mentioned before, Jeff bought the car after it had been restored and painted by Jeremy Nelson at Kappy's Auto Restoration in Owatonna, Minnesota. The color scheme is Samba Green Pearl, a '94 Honda Del Sol color, and the silver is a '97 Chevrolet pickup color. The 2-inch cowl hood is from Goodmark.
Interior: Jeff did his interior work, rewiring the car himself and adding a Kenwood stereo, Corbeau Legacy seats, and RCI cam-lock safety harnesses.