How many of us remember the exact date we bought our cars? Steve Brynteson does because he bought his Nova on January 2, 1986, and started building it the next day. We like this guy. Not only did he dive right in, but he got rid of the stuff that didn't make the car fast. The first step was to torch off the pair of '70s glasspacks the previous owner had installed. No offense to lovers of glasspacks, but we all know their primary function is to make a lot of noise.
Steve almost bought a Camaro instead of this Nova. "My dad wanted me to buy a '69 Camaro," he says. But he declined his elder's advice and instead sought out a machine that suited his tastes. "I was inspired by this car I had seen in several of the magazines of the day. It was a white '67 Nova with Center Lines." That car struck a chord with Steve, and after searching the classified ads, he found one close to his house and bought it for $800.
Even a quarter century ago, that subthousand-dollar figure didn't buy you much. Steve admits his newly acquired prize wasn't much to look at. "It was purple with green wheels." Plus, it had its fair share of rust and the aforementioned glasspacks plumbed in behind a bone-stock 283. With loud paint and exhaust, the car demanded looks but couldn't back them up with any performance. To fix this problem, Steve installed mufflers, rally wheels, and a much bigger engine.
"I've probably had about 10 different motors in the car," he says. But things really took off when he built a 406, dropping it in sometime in 1991. "I was hoping to run 12s on nitrous with it," Steve recalls. He surprised everyone, including himself, when he ran 11.55 on the motor his first time out.
Soon Steve's Nova was drawing the right kind of attention. "I hadn't done any of the bodywork yet, so people were always surprised at how fast the car was." He eventually did get to rejuvenating the Nova's exterior, learning how to do body- and paintwork in the process. He also did a bunch of chassis modifications to help get all his power to the ground and keep the car pointed straight while going down the track. Steve welded in his own rollbar, widened the wheeltubs, and installed an aftermarket front subframe, all in pursuit of better track manners. He's also installed another 406-this one is more stout, though, and is capable of clicking off a searing 9.98 e.t. at 136.6 mph. Even more impressive, that run was naturally aspirated-no power-adders. That parachute poking up over the rear bumper is there for a reason. When he cracks open the nitrous bottle, this thing will catapult to high-8-second e.t.'s.
This guy has speed built into his chromosomes, and it runs in the family. His brother, Joe, owns the 10-second '63 Nova we featured last month.