Dedicated is the kid who starts working as soon as he can and saves all his earnings to buy the car of his dreams by the time he gets his driver's license. Seriously, how many 15-year-old kids have $7,500 (of hard-earned cash) to drop on a muscle car? Well, we know one; Cody had the goal of buying a Nova to drive to high school, and he happily shelled out his earnings from those crappy teen jobs to buy this one. That was nearly 14 years ago, and he still has the car, though it's radically different from the car he bought as a kid.
"The paint is about all that's left of the car I bought. I think I've changed or replaced everything else," Cody says. But don't take that to mean this car was a pile of junk when he bought it. "I bought it from the second owner. He was a painter and painted the PPG red lacquer still on the car. It looked good and had a 350/350 combination then." Cody quickly replaced the 350 with a 406, driving the car to school and racing it on the weekends.
Shortly before he got married to his high school sweetheart, Cody began a serious transformation on the Nova. He is a friend of Chad Maskrey and Blake Hughes of 417 Motorsports, builders of several cool cars we've featured in the last couple of years. Cody and Blake rebuilt the car from the ground up, designing their own tubular front clip, building a custom, triangulated four-link rear suspension, and mini-tubbing the shell to fit massive rear tires. As if that wasn't enough, the two built and installed an LS3/T-56 combination that not only makes better power than the old 406 but also offers vastly better driveability and gets better fuel economy. He scored the engine from a local salvage yard, and the transmission came out of a '00 Camaro.
Cody had the car finished for his wedding, though he said it was a push to get there. He's proud of the fact that he drives the car a lot. "I take it everywhere--I probably put about 15,000 miles on it a year," he tells us. "I built the car to drive and have fun in. The end." Cody, we couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Who: Cody Bray
What: '66 Chevrolet Nova
Where: Ridgedale, MO
Engine: Modern horsepower comes via a 30,000-mile LS3 pulled out of a local junkyard. Cody slid in a 225/230 duration, 0.618/0.600 lift Texas Speed camshaft and upgraded the springs and retainers. The rest of the engine is stock. Chris Huels tuned the '10 Camaro PCM using HP Tuners.
Transmission: A fourth-gen Camaro donated its T56 six-speed transmission to Cody's cause. He had C&M Gearworks in Springfield, MO, rebuild it with upgraded components. "I shift it hard, and it doesn't break," Cody boasts. The clutch is a billet piece from Spec, and Custom Powertrain Industries made the steel driveshaft.
Exhaust: Blake Hughes from 417 Motorsports built the set of merge collectors in Cody's Nova. With 1-7/8-inch primary tubes dumping into 3-inch collectors and a 3-inch system with Dynatech Bullet mufflers, it's safe to say the engine's not seeing much backpressure from the exhaust.
Fuel System: A Walbro 255 pump feeds the big LS3. Cody modified the Nova's stock gas tank and plumbed in a C5 Corvette fuel filter/regulator combination that acts as a fuel return back to the tank.
Rearend: The guys installed a Moser M9 (Ford 9-inch–style) rear with a Strange centersection and Strange 31-spline axles. The gears are a 3.82:1 set he bought used from a NASCAR Cup team.
Suspension: As mentioned, Cody and Blake built the front and rear suspensions from scratch, working off pictures of several aftermarket suspensions available for early Novas. Strange adjustable shocks and Hypercoil springs are used on all four corners.
Brakes: You gotta love big-brake kits for new cars. Guys who buy new Camaros and Mustangs are eager to scrap their stock stuff for blingy, big rotors and calipers. Blake cashed in on this trend, buying a set of cast-off stock front and rear brakes from a '10 Camaro, which is no slouch in its own right: The new SS comes with Brembo calipers clamping 14-inch rotors.
Wheels/Tires: We like Cody's wheel-and-tire package. He's got BFGoodrich g-Force T/A radials on Fikse FM/10 three-piece wheels. The sizes are 255/35ZR-18, front, and 295/35ZR-18, rear.
Interior: Cody made the sensible decision to leave the interior mostly stock, and we like the Nova's clean, simple interior. But we were intrigued by the Racepak dash he installed in place of the stock bar-graph speedo. He says he wanted more information than just mph and idiot lights but did not want to install a grip of gauges across the length of his dash. "The Racepak cost about the same as it would have to buy all the gauges I wanted. Plus, it looks much cleaner, I think," Cody says. He replaced the stock front seats with a pair of Cerullo buckets.
Paint/Body: This car was painted by its previous owner nearly 18 years ago, and it still looks great. "It's got chips and scratches that I wish weren't there, but my priority was always to build the drivetrain and suspension. One of these days, I will have the car painted," Cody says.
Thanks: Cody wished to thank his parents, Kevin and Thursey Bray, for letting him keep his car in their garage since he bought it. He lives 5 miles from them now but doesn't have a garage, so the car still stays at Mom and Dad's. He also wanted to thank his wife, Danielle, his brother, Trevor, Blake Hughes and Chad Maskrey of 417 Motorsports, and high school friends Travis Daniels and David Veldman.