Oh, if cars could tell tales, imagine the tales they would tell. This superclean '63 Nova probably has some good ones. It was originally owned by a guy who worked as a salesman for a corned beef processing plant in Oakland, California. We can only imagine what his clothes smelled like when he came home from work. For years it was the conveyance of a person who made call after sales call hawking pickled meat to stores, restaurants, and maybe a few of those pastrami nacho taco stands we see in certain parts of town.
It must not have had too hard a life, because the car still has only 60,000 miles on it. For some reason, it was put into storage in 1980 and didn't see the light of day until 1993 when Bob Brynteson bought the car so he and his two sons would have a project to work on together.
Over the years, they steadily transformed it into the version you see here, and it's come a long way from its meat-selling days. It's a lot faster, for sure. Bob's son Joe is now the owner, and he credits his dad and his brother, Steve, for helping with the transformation. Steve built the 10-point rollcage and set up the ladder bar rear, while Joe and his dad did the paint and bodywork. Don Nelson at 5R Auto built the engine and transmission, and everyone was instrumental in putting the car back together.
Now in its new life, Joe's Nova has different stories to tell-tales of mighty burnouts and frenetic dragstrip passes. It smells better, too. Burning rubber is always preferable to corned beef.
Who: Joe Brynteson
What: '63 Chevrolet Nova
Where: Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The city's website calls Coon Rapids "an exciting community and the area's gateway to the northern part of the state."
Engine: The Nova's block is '76-vintage Chevy iron. Wheeler Racing Engines in Blaine, Minnesota, did the machining work, and the block was bored 0.030 over and clearanced to fit a massive 3.875-inch-stroke Eagle crankshaft. Do the math and you've got a big-block-sized 396 ci in a small-block wrapper. Six-inch Eagle rods swing Diamond 10.6:1 pistons. Rings and bearings are by Total Seal and Clevite. A Bullet Racing solid roller cam specs out at an impressive 272/286 degrees duration at 0.050 and 0.675/0.662-inch lift. The pushrods are from Comp Cams, and they actuate a set of Harland Sharp 1.5:1 roller rockers. The heads are supertrick AFR 210s that were treated to a porting job, and they're fitted with 2.08/1.60-inch valves. Joe says this combination makes 570 hp, and we have no reason to doubt him.
Induction: That's an Edelbrock Super Victor intake topped by a Barry Grant Demon 750 double-pumper carburetor.
NOS: A 250hp two-stage NOS plate resides under the carb and helps this car scoot to quarter-mile times of 9.40 seconds. On the motor, it is no slouch, either, and will go 10.46 at 129 mph.
Ignition: An MSD electronic distributor doles out the sparks. An MSD coil is on the supply side, and MSD wires send the volts to NGK V-Power plugs.
Exhaust: The headers are Hooker Super Comps that measure 13/4 inches at the primaries and 3 inches at the collectors. Three-inch tubing carries the fumes to Magnaflow mufflers.
Transmission: A manual valvebody TH350 backs up the engine. It was built by Jeff Gilles and Don Nelson who stuffed it with a 5,000-stall PTC torque converter and topped it with a B&M Z-gate shifter.
Rearend: A Victory 31/2-inch prop shaft leads back to a '70 Mopar 83/4 rear, virtually unheard of in a Chevy.
Suspension: The stock Nova stuff disappeared years ago, replaced with a much better designed AJE Racing bolt-on front subframe that employs coilover shocks and rack-and-pinion steering. The rear leaf springs were yarded out in favor of a ladder bar setup, also with coilovers.
Brakes: Wilwood 10-inch front discs handle that end's stopping duties. Mopar drums still reside on the rear.
Wheels/tires: Up front 15x3.5 M/T ET Drag skinnies are mounted with 26x6 M/T Street Radials. Out back, scope out the 28x12.5-inch M/T ET Streets on 15x10 M/T ET Drag wheels.
Paint/body: Joe and his dad did the bodywork and paint job, spraying the car with PPG Gold Metallic, a '69 Camaro color. See how we work a first-gen Camaro into every issue?
Thanks: Props to Joe's dad, Bob, brother, Steve, and Jake Cooney, Don Nelson, Blake Nelson, and TNT Race Shop. "The car couldn't have been built without these diehards."