Though it looks straight from some high-zoot builder's domain, the coolest thing about Doug Moore's 1967 Nova is that he and a few close friends did most of the modifications at home. The members of that cabal were Barry Dial, Danny Stewart, and Alex, the youngest of Doug's four sons. Besides the bond of friendship, the project simultaneously became generational with the inclusion of the young son. By his acceptance in the realm of his elders, and through a rite of passage, Alex is likely to carry that hot rod torch for the rest of his life. And as more of our purely American culture seems to unravel, the import of Alex's old-car interest cannot be discounted. He represents the future.
This little skit began in 2005. Doug was in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for the Spring Grand Rod Run when he spied the Nova. Thankfully, it was completely stock and fairly begging for a benefactor. He was hooked in an instant. He had a yen. He had a vision. Then things happened much more quickly than he had anticipated. He didn't have the cash in his pocket to make the buy so he called his wife Andrea to bring loot...as well as a trailer.
It was the beginning of many trial-and-error sessions, blowing the car apart twice before assembly was complete and the satisfaction of building a car at home that could rival that of the best gunslingers out there. It was to show Alex that the spirit of the sport truly lies within its constituents and not particularly in the hands of the professionals.
Happily, Doug is a machinist and that talent and discipline naturally proved invaluable. A short capsulation: "I had a dream for this car, so I stripped it to a bare hull and put it on a rotisserie. Being a machinist, I fabricated a new transmission tunnel and installed mini-tubs. Then I bought the wheels and tires and mocked them up so I could get measurements for the rearend. I borrowed a plastic mock-up motor so I could make mounts for it and for the transmission. I didn't want the water pump on the front of the engine, so I bought an in-line Meziere and made a plate to weld it to the radiator then mounted the pump to it. This really made it clean. I then made the alternator brackets and all the piping for the supercharger.
"I built the engine, installed it, and then put the car back together. Then I took it all apart again and began prepping for the paint. Once it was painted, wet sanded, buffed, and completely assembled, I installed the interior. I took the car for a test drive. The car made more power than I ever thought possible. I was ecstatic."
So were the folks at some choice venues. Doug copped choice gold: 2012 Summit Racing People's Choice, 2012 Year One Best of Show, 2012 Covington, Georgia Best Custom, and 2013 Chevy High Performance Editor's Choice. Doug also shows up at the Spring and Fall Grand Rod Run in Pigeon Forge as well as local rod raves as the mood strikes. By his own admission, Doug might drive the Nova twice a month, if that much.
When he could have sunk to the siren call of an automatic, we love that Doug likes to bang a stick-shift even with such prodigious engine output. Real men do cry, and real men love to flat-shift gears at 7,500 rpm, too. Yes, especially that.
Engine & Drivetrain
At the heart of the powerplant is a 406ci motor (4.155x3.750). Dyno-Flo Performance in Henderson, Nevada, did the machine work. Doug then built the motor, stocking the cylinder case with an Eagle Competition crank and connecting rods as well as JE pistons that yield a 9:1 compression ratio and he joined these pieces with ARP Pro Series fasteners. The crank has double keyways and is soothed by a Fluidampr harmonic balancer. Gears drive the timing set rather than a belt and a custom-grind camshaft is on the big one. A 6-quart Moroso race pan seals the bottom of the block. Both valves enjoy a 0.631-inch lift but maintain separate duration patterns; 304/318 degrees at 0.050-inch. The AFR Eliminator cylinder heads were CNC-ported (and matched to the intake gaskets) and torqued to the block with copper gaskets. The 7/16-inch diameter tapered chromemoly pushrods bump 1.7:1 rocker arms that enable the 2.100/1.60-inch valves. Fuel delivery begins at the Aeromotive Pro pump and ends at the throttle body in the Wilson 90-degree situated on the Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold. Big Stuff electronics control the injection sequence and MSD provides a fat, vibrant spark front. Exhaust is extracted by Doug's Headers with 1 7/8-inch diameter primary pipes. On top of it all, an F-2 ProCharger swirls 16 psi of positive manifold pressure and produces 603 lb-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm and 821 horsepower at 7,500. The torque-eater 2001 Viper 6-gear is enabled by a McLeod twin-disc clutch assembly and a custom-built prop shaft takes it to the narrowed 9-inch rear axle that Doug fitted with a limited-slip differential and 3.50:1 gears.
A perfect match for the demure body panels, the interior is a study in understated elegance. Joe Gibbs in Griffin, Georgia, swathed the custom foam-covered factory seats with Italian leather and suede for a remarkable ambience that is calm, cool and collected. Doug reworked the original automatic console to perfectly accommodate the custom shifter that he built the for Viper transmission. Gibbs covered the dashpad in leather and blocked out the radio slot. Doug sunk a full load of Auto Meter dials in a custom panel and installed billet door and window cranks. Turning on top of the ididit tilt column, a factory-original Nova SS steering wheel.
Chassis & Suspension
Since the Nova's stock suspension is more or less worthless for anything more than a straight line, Doug installed a Dixie Racing front clip and gained more favorable geometry that would enhance tracking, elevate handling, and improve braking. He used Mustang spindles and added a rack steering system as well. QA1 adjustable coilover shock absorbers provide the necessary damping qualities and desired ride firmness. Doug created a four-link suspension system for the 9-inch, applied QA1 coilovers and linked the front and back end of the car with custom frame rail connectors. Anti-sway bars are not used. In order to welcome the 315 series tires properly, Doug put up some mini-tubs and wisely stretched the width of the inner fender wells an additional 3.5 inches.
Wheels & Brakes
If there was a better place to enjoy a simple, classic 5-spoke wheel, we can't imagine it. American Racing had his sweet dreams in 16x8.5 and 17x11 dimensions to which Doug applied Nitto 205/45 and 315/35 erasers. No parachute needed here, only modest 4-pot 12.19-inch and 12.88-inch Wilwood discs.
While the body was nude, Doug had all the chrome trim re-plated. Meanwhile, his pal Barry Dial in Oxford, Georgia, stripped the body, sealed and primed it. Then he sprayed—two coats of PPG Charcoal Gray and five coats of clear. For the final stage, he wet-sanded and buffed out the job.