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.
Who: Steve Brynteson
What: '67 Chevrolet Nova
Where: Ham Lake, MN
Block: The foundation for the mighty 406 in Steve's car is a Dart Little M small-block that was prepped by Performance Concepts in Scandia, Minnesota. It is loaded with a forged Eagle crank and rod package. The Wiseco pistons yield a relatively tame 10.0:1 compression ratio. We had to adjust our spectacles to make sure we read Steve's cam specs correctly. The Ultradyne solid roller cam delivers 273/283 degrees duration at 0.050 and 0.727/0.682 inch lift. A Cloyes roller timing chain keeps it in phase, and Isky lifters have the unenviable task of following those huge lobes.
Heads: Steve's Dart 18-degree cylinder heads are major contributors to this engine's massive power. He had them angle-milled to an even shallower 15 degrees and fitted with larger 2.15/ 1.625-inch valves. The pushrods are from Comp, and they actuate T&D roller rockers.
Induction: Steve sourced a Chevrolet 18-degree intake manifold and fitted it with a Holley 950 HP carburetor.
Nawsssss: An NOS two-stage system is responsible for the 8-second passes. It provides an extra 300 hp.
Exhaust: Steve made those headers, and they're awesome looking. They dump into 3 1/2-inch collectors, ending with a pair of DynoMax Bullet mufflers.
Transmission: "I was running a Turbo 350 for a while, but it was too violent, so I switched to a 'Glide," Steve tells us. His Powerglide is loaded with a 5,300-stall PTC torque converter and an ATI transbrake. He controls it all with a simple and clean-looking ratchet shifter from Precision Performance Products.
Rearend: There's a Mopar 8 3/4 rear under Steve's Nova, just like the one in his brother's car. Steve tells us the Mopar A-Body rears are dirt cheap and the spring perches are in almost exactly the same position as the stock Chevy axle. He's since moved the springs inboard after tubbing the wheel houses, though. The Sure Grip differential was replaced with a spool that is turned by a set of 3.91:1 gears.
Suspension: Steve replaced the spindly OE front end with an AJE subframe made of chrome-moly tube steel. It utilizes coilover shocks and a Pinto steering rack. The rear suspension is simple enough: Calvert Racing leaf springs, a pair of CalTracs bars, and a set of QA1 adjustable shocks.
Brakes: Wilwood discs are up front, and the stock Mopar 11-inch drums remain out back.
Wheels/Tires: Those Billet Special-ties Street Light wheels look great on this car. A pair of 15x4 hoops with 26x4.5 Mickey Thompsons are up front, and monster 28x12.50 Mickey Thompson ET Streets mounted on 15x8-inch wheels bring up the rear.
Paint/Body: The only panel on Steve's Nova that isn't steel is the fiberglass hood. Otherwise, Steve and his dad, Bob, massaged or replaced their way to a straight and rust-free body. They painted the car at home, too. The color is Silver Birch, an '05 Chevrolet color.
Interior: Open the door and you'll find the interior is just as understated as the exterior. Steve kept his passenger compartment stock looking and fuss-free. The Jaz buckets are covered with black vinyl and the carpet is stock. If it weren't for the G-Force harnesses and 10-point rollcage Steve built, you'd be hard-pressed to ID this Nova as a sub-10-second car.