1966 Chevrolet Nova - Driven!

Grant Reierson’s ’66 Deuce Has Rolled to Hell and Back

Ro McGonegal Mar 16, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Some of us constantly wax nostalgic for the good ol’ days when just about everyone drove their hot rods just about everywhere but a mud bog, including squirts to the dragstrip and back sans damage of any sort. Our eyeballs bulged blatant at the sight of a trailer. In those days, most of our junk was either driven or, in a few cases, flat-towed to the destination. Now, appearing in the pits at the dragstrip demands a trailer, one that is enclosed and spiffed out.

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The cool thing is that driving everywhere has become the norm for Pro Touring machines and those close to them. Grant Reierson’s a true blood and is responsible for everything performed on his Nova save for the bodywork, paint, and transmission work. That he manages PowerSource Performance, a high-zoot custom car building shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was providence.

I have owned the car for more than 15 years, he says. And I did the basic restoration before I began at PowerSource. Once there, it became obvious to me that I could use the car to help promote the company and the type of high-end work that we are capable of doing. The build was done in phases, the first of which were paint and bodywork and the front subframe.

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Nowhere in his communication did we find the hackneyed label Pro Touring. In fact, the car does lean to that discipline more than any other, but in Grant’s eyes it’s just his hot rod, his driver. In the summer of 2009, I took my first long road trip. First, I went to shows in Sandpoint and Post Falls, Idaho. And then the big trip to Kansas City for the Goodguys Mid-Western Nationals. People thought I was nuts to drive all that way and do the autocross, but I did it anyway.

It got under his skin. He began planning the 2010 trip as soon as he got home. It was EPIC: Des Moines, Iowa, for the GG Heartland Nats and a little more autocrossing followed by the GG Nats in Columbus, Ohio. Along the way, I visited every hot rod shop I could find, including Rad Rides, The Roadster Shop, Ringbrothers, Schwartz Performance, D&Z Customs, Ohio George’s Speed Shop in Dayton, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Road America.

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I built the car to drive and I do drive it, but I’m getting into the autocross thing, so improvements will include splined front and rear antisway bars, more suspension tuning, and a ’cage to stiffen everything up. I don’t consider the car done because I always want to improve it in one way or another. Beyond the obvious, the car has opened avenues to meet people who I might never have otherwise.

Grant pieced his ride together over a four-year gestation, following the paint and body phase with a few interior modifications, then a new engine, which was his first high-performance build. The build continued with the transmission and finally the suspension system, big brakes, and just the right rollers as foils for that blazing red overlay. Driven? How about 20,000 miles on the resto in less than two years? Yes, this guy’s serious about his avocation, maybe even over the edge. Brilliant!

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Grant built his engine on the margin. It is stout but completely capable of blending power and torque and do it on unleaded regular if need be. The stall speed in the converter is paltry, a lot less than you’d imagine, but an overdriven top gear is involved. The Nova’s got a radio delete plate but a stereo monster lurks nonetheless, spreading its tentacles throughout the interior. By keeping his head down and his nose to the ’stone he managed to produce a seeming world-pleaser: Best of Show three times at Driven To Perform (Edmonton), Best Muscle Car/Best Engine Driven To Perform (Calgary), Best Custom Lost in the ’50s (Sandpoint), Baddest Muscle Car Rod Run (Post Falls, Idaho), First Place USACi Sound Quality, and much more glitter from various other venues.

Traveling to shows is great because of all the great cars in one place, but it’s the people who I’ve met who have made the trips as memorable as they have been. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the people at PowerSource for their sweat and support, and the staff of Capital Gear (Edmonton) for all of their last-minute help, Grant says. We think he’s somewhat modest. All the rest of the toil, which is considerable, came from his hands. Driven. Double Deuce driven.

Long before the Nova got its power modules, the roller's all-steel suit was being thrashed by Grant and troops at PowerSource Performance. Aside from the usual rust repair and many hours of rubbing the skin smooth and ripple-free, the body shop that did the work isn't around anymore, but the custom mix PPG Red still attracts boatloads of attention.

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Grant went very special here, all arms and elbows, fabricating like a wild man. Red, black, and brushed aluminum abound--all of it blended neatly together in a soothing tableau, a place you'd want to be. Start off with the suede dashpad, package tray, door panels, and trunk trim. RCI racing harnesses extend from the skinny sport seats. The wiring is stock but with changes to meet Grant's power demands. A billet aluminum radio delete plate locks in with the billet mount for the sophisticated Racepak Street data acquisition insert. Then up to the color-coded Grant steering wheel waggling on a Flaming River tilt access. Grant built a console to house a storage hidey- hole, the DVD/navigation system, the push-button shifter, and the power window switches. Bright Lokar pedals wink from the floor. Grant forsook the usual modern HVAC system, but the heater must work just grand. When we talked with him (a few days before Christmas), the ambient was a mere minus 20 degrees C. Autumn Davis at PowerSource used StreetWires interconnects and power cable to manage the Kenwood DNX7140 head unit (with iPod), MTX Component speakers T7500 12-inch subwoofer, Orion HCCA 100004 four-channel amplifier, a custom- built sub box and kick panels.

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Driving could turn to hitchhiking when there's a hand grenade underhood. Trouble-free operation is what you seek. To that end, Grant has built the engine accordingly, and with serious hard parts. World Products provided the Motown big-block that would eventually displace 377 ci. When World was still building engines, they did the machine work and carried out the balancing and blueprinting exercises. Grant had specified an Eagle forging laced with matching 5.7-inch-long H-beam connecting rods, SRP 9.75:1 compression ratio pistons, and corresponding wristpins. He clasped the forgings with Perfect Circle rings and called it a day. He attached a Cloyes timing gear to the XR274H COMP hydraulic roller (224/230 degrees duration at 0.050, 0.502-/0.510-inch lift). He capped the bottom end with a Melling oil pump submersed in a stock Camaro pan. For upper body strength, he attached AFR 195 Eliminator aluminum cylinder heads fixed with 2.05/1.65-inch valves that are damped by AFR springs. All other valvetrain hardware is also from AFR. COMP pushrods tickle Scorpion 1.6:1 roller rockers. An Edelbrock Performer RPM Air-Gap intake fixture hosts a Speed Demon carburetor showing mechanical secondaries. Above it, a custom billet air cleaner housing stuffed with K&N filtration element. Spark emanates from an MSD Digital 6 Plus controller through a billet distributor and HVC. Total timing is 35 degrees BTDC. Spent cylinder contents are extracted via Hooker 15/8-inch primaries that merge into 3-inch collectors thence to a 21/2-inch diameter mandrel-bent system, including the all-important X-pipe crossover. Grant saw 400-plus at 5,200 rpm and you can bet that 377 little-block has more than enough moxie to excite the Nova's mere 3,250-pound curb weight with the aural violence and alacrity of a thunderbolt. But how to put this sweetheart's goods to the tarmac? Grant wouldn't consider anything but an overdriven top gear, so Snowman Automatic Transmission in Edmonton constructed a hardy 700-R4 and fitted it with a B&M converter set with a 2,400-stall speed. A Retrotek Speed push- button shifter changes up the gear spread, but if Grant is so taken, there are paddles in close proximity to the steering wheel. Capital Gear in Edmonton supplied a PST carbon- fiber prop shaft that turns a Pro Gear 3.89:1 ring-and-pinion and an Auburn differential inside a narrowed (48 inches flange-to-flange) Chassisworks Fab9 housing. Torque then becomes the responsibility of the Strange 35-spline axles.

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The theme here is big. Wilwood 14-inch rotors (drilled and slotted) fit the spindles and are in league with Superlite six-piston calipers. The same assemblies were applied to the 9-inch axle ends, except that the calipers are four-pot. The Nova has never been known to provide much room beneath its wheelwells, especially in the rear. Grant built tubs to fit forged Boze 20x10 Pro Touring hoops wrapped with 285/30ZR Toyo T1R tires. Up front, he posted slightly less spectacular 18x8 Boze and 245/35ZR T1R stickiness.

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"I gotta say that up here in this country, we just aren't as attuned to stuff in the lower 48 as we might be," Grant says. "A `for instance' would be the wheeltubs that I made from scratch about a month before DSE came out with their catalog item." A lot has changed in the Nova's four-year birth but Grant plowed ahead with what was available at the time. At the spearhead, he injected a MacGuyver's Mustang II subframe equipped with upper and lower control arms, a 3/4-inch diameter antisway bar, and QA1 single-adjustable coilovers. He lapped the ends of the car together with Competition Engineering subframe connectors, then hung the Chassisworks G-Bar canted four-link (spherical rod ends, not bushings) with the Fab9 housing. VariShock double-adjustable coilovers (175-pound rate) complete the installation. A Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion points Mustang II spindles perfectly. Grant recants: "I really like the look of DSE's hydroformed front clip. That will likely be the next step in this endless project." Check out that symmetry of that understated elegance in the engine compartment.

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Grant Reierson’s ’66 Deuce Has Rolled to Hell and Back
Ro McGonegal Mar 16, 2011


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