Mike Jordan got started early. By the time he was 12 years old, he already owned three cars and had begun learning car crafting from a neighbor who had a full shop. He helped build engines and worked on full restorations while also feeding his curiosity about how things worked, tearing apart household appliances such as vacuum cleaners and then putting them back together. A few years later, he hooked up with Mike Shelton, another mechanic who lived across the street and really got the youngster going.
"He had a 12-second El Camino," Jordan says. "Once he took me for a few rides in that thing, I was hooked."
In the early '80s, Shelton and Jordan built a small-block engine for one of Jordan's cars, a '63 SS Nova. It was originally a six-cylinder coupe (the SS version was nothing more than a trim level in those days), and Jordan added nitrous to the swapped-in V-8, backed it with a TH350 transmission and a Corvette posi rearend with 4.56 gears, and ran it on the street for several years. When he finally sold the car to a buddy, the seeds of a future project were already germinating in his mind. He decided he would one day own another Nova but would go for the ultimate setup with it: aluminum engine, supercharger, injection, wheeltubs-the whole shot.
Jordan gradually expanded his knowledge, learning about engines and transmissions as well as chassis and bodywork on a progression of GM vehicles he owned, including a '70 Chevelle, a '69 Chevy van, a '73 Vega panel wagon, an '88 Camaro, a '68 RS/SS Camaro, and a '75 Monte Carlo. He even served a stint as president of a car club in the San Francisco Bay area, and his interest in machinery eventually brought him to his career as a civilian mobile equipment mechanic working for the U.S. Navy at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Port Hueneme, California, where he repairs heavy-duty pieces such as D8 Caterpillars. Always, though, he had that Nova in the back of his mind. One day, it leaped to the fore.
A friend of Jordan, a parts manager at a Chevrolet dealership, called him to say he'd found the right car-a '62 that was a roller. Jordan traded emails with the owner and finalized the deal for $400 plus another $50 for the guy to deliver it to Jordan's home in Ventura, California. All Jordan wanted was the shell, doors, decklid, and hood, because he knew the '62 would undergo a full sheetmetal treatment.
He went to work on the car with Bill Bradley, another friend who owned a custom car business called BBS Services. Jordan and Bradley installed a full rollcage in the Nova and got everything ready for the sheetmetal job, but they couldn't find anybody who could do the work until Jordan met Lawrence Bryant, owner of Bryant Custom Fabrication. Bryant had built a beautiful '57 Chevy for another client in about a nine-month period, and that car ended up in a feature display at the SEMA show. Having come to the U.S. from New Zealand, Bryant had been the lead mechanic on two IndyCar teams and a fabricator, and finally opened his own business where he built customs as well as race cars. Jordan gave Bryant a list of what he wanted to do-the sheetmetal, floorpans, wheeltubs, whole front apron, and bumper mounts-and the two of them had it almost totally assembled in less than a year.
Top engine builder Ken Duttweiler ordered the engine block and did the initial machining, and the 427ci powerplant went together quickly. Jordan counted on Bradley and Bryant for help with much of the fabrication and powertrain work. When it came time to lay on the color, Jordan went for an eye-popping yellow, which was sprayed by Cal Custom in Camarillo, California. Jordan says the hardest part of the buildup was simply gathering all the parts and pieces-deciding what type of harness to use, how to mount the sheetmetal, and finding the correct alternator.
"It was a lot of detail," he says. "Every piece is hand-shaped and -formed, so we had to figure out what would clear, what would fit, and what would work. All that stuff was just mind numbing. As Bryant was building and fabricating, I was trying to stay ahead of the details."
The car has yet to receive a full race tune, but it did get a session on a chassis dyno. Even with only 6 pounds of boost and too much timing, a half-throttle run brought 450 hp and 780 lb-ft on pump gas. It was also one of the feature vehicles at the '08 SEMA show, where it received plenty of attention along with speculation about whether it was strictly a feature car or if it could run as well as it looked. Jordan plans to answer those questions in the near future when he takes the Nova to the track to complete his dream.
What: '62 Chevrolet Nova
Owner: Mike Jordan
Hometown: Ventura, California
Duttweiler Performance machined the block and pistons, and the engine was assembled by Bill Bradley at BBS Services. The 428ci, Brodix 8b 1,000, CNC-machined aluminum block with a 4.125-inch bore houses a knife-edged Callies Stealth crankshaft with a 4.00-inch stroke. The crank spins 6-inch Oliver billet connecting rods pinned to dished Ross 8.5:1 pistons that are fitted with Speed-Pro chrome-moly rings.
McKenzie's Racing cylinder heads built the Chevy splayed-valve NASCAR heads with 50cc chambers. The heads are fitted with Manley stainless steel 2.20 intake and 1.60 exhaust valves actuated by Jesel 1.7 roller rocker arms over Comp Cams springs. The lifters are Comp Cams offset rollers, and the pushrods are custom-length Smith Bros. 3/8-inchers with titanium retainers and keepers. The camshaft is a Comp Cams billet roller that received a custom grind from Ken Duttweiler to provide 0.630-inch lift and 292-degree duration. The moving parts reside under a set of custom covers built by Bryant Custom Fabrications.
A 20 percent underdriven BDS 8-71 Stage 2 supercharger gets the air moving into a custom Hogan's Racing Manifolds intake. A set of 16 nozzles inject fuel into the plate at 30 psi. The fuel/air mix is lit by an MSD Digital 7-Plus ignition control and crank-trigger distributor through Crane 8mm sleeved Firewires. Spent fumes vent through a custom header set from Bryant Custom Fabrication.
The Brown's Transmission TH400 reverse-pattern automatic was built to handle a minimum of 1,000 hp and is fitted with a B&M trans cooler with an American 3,500-stall converter turning a custom steel driveshaft built by Coast Driveline Service. An extra-heavy-duty yoke makes the connection to an Art Morrison 9-inch housing around 4.11 Richmond gears that incorporate a Detroit Truetrac unit and spin a set of 33-spline Strange axles.
The Nova rides on a 2x3-inch boxed Art Morrison frame that is suspended by a Strange one-piece strut coilover front assembly and Alden coilovers fitted to a four-link setup with a Panhard bar at the rear. The front Mickey Thompson Sportsman tires measure 26x5-15 and are wrapped around Weld Racing 15x5 Alumastar wheels mated to a Morrison mechanical steering rack, and the monster 33x22.5-15 rear Hoosier ET drag tires ride on 15x15 Alumastars. The Wilwood discs, proportioning valve, and master cylinder are linked with stainless steel lines and fittings and incorporate a Hurst line-lock.
Brilliant! Bryant Custom Fabrications designed and fabricated all the body sheetmetal, and Cal Custom in Camarillo, California, smoothed and filled the layers before spraying House of Kolor Lime-Candy Yellow paint. The window holes were fitted with green glass from House of Glass.
From the headliner and door panels to the carpet, the interior is all custom by Gold Coast Auto Upholstery in Ventura, California. The Corbeau racing buckets were re-covered in leather. Deist cam-type black five-point harnesses and an Art Morrison 12-point 'cage secure the front occupants, and huge tubs dominate the rear. As with most of the interior sheetmetal, Bryant Custom Fabrications built the center console, which carries a Precision Performance air-type cable shifter and a switch panel by Auto-Rod Controls. The modified dash was fitted with Classic Instruments' All American oil, water, fuel, tach, and speed gauges, and the steering wheel is a Billet Specialties 15-inch Outlaw model.