"You know what they say, ‘Timing is everything,'" were the first words from Steve Spang regarding the freshly constructed '66 Nova. And as simple as that sounds, car guys can certainly understand and appreciate the meaning of these words.
Meet avid gearheads Steve and Marge Spang, who reside in Prior Lake, Minnesota. While this Nova was their first ground-up build, they've been in the game for the better part of the past decade, playing with and modifying late-model C5 and C6 Corvettes, both of which are still in their garage and ready for a drive at a moment's notice.
For this build, Steve wanted the timeless look of the classic muscle car, yet with all the amenities of a modern-day ride. And for him, the '66 Chevy II had all the right lines for his perfect combination to come together.
With the decision made for an early Nova, the search for his blank canvas was easier than expected. The chassis is from an original California car that was relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, to be rebuilt. It turns out the owner had an unfortunate incident that prevented him from starting the build. With the deal made, Steve and Marge began their four-year journey to create the car he had envisioned.
First up, they purchased a worn-out LS1 and had Chaska, Minnesota's TPIS handle the rebuild—the only requirement was a true 500hp powerplant. From there, Bowman Real Hot Rods in Brandon, South Dakota, took over the project, installing its custom full frame and tubular K-member, including a number of trick details and final fitment—you could say they were entrusted to make sure everything was handled in a timely manner and finalize the beauty you see here.
Especially given this was the Spang family's first build, we have to give them kudos for trying something new and finding the right folks for the job. Half the battle of any new construction is working with quality people, and they did their homework and ended up with exactly what they wanted.
We have a feeling we'll see more of the Spangs in the future, since they're already knee-deep in another project: a '55 Bel Air with a 600-plus-horsepower 427ci. If this Chevy II is any indication of how their Tri-Five is going to turn out, then we're calling dibs now. And we can't leave without saying to Steve and Marge Spang, Welcome to the addiction—you're going to love it here.
Talk about an eye-tickling sight. Steve wanted to deviate from the traditional red, black, and silver. Instead, he worked with Brad Smith from Smitty's Custom Painting in Tea, South Dakota, to come up with a Candy Root Beer, a blend of seven colors with a heavy dose of metallic, while the engine bay and underneath the chassis was sprayed with a flat finish. For a custom touch, Steve wanted a clean ride that wasn't overly done, so they went ahead and shaved the door handles, built the trick hoodscoop, added a bumper ram-air system, and completed the engine devoid of all accessories. In his words, "It was very time-consuming, but worth the extra effort." We agree.
Under the hood is a TPIS-built LS powerplant. The mostly stock LS1 was freshened up with CNC-ported factory heads, an LS6 intake manifold, a TPIS 90mm drive-by-wire throttle body, and a custom-ground TPIS Z11 camshaft. The final power numbers: 510 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. Directly behind the motivator is a Gearstar 4L65E overdrive transmission with a 2,000-stall converter.
Steve wanted the cockpit to stand out above the crowd and tickle the retinas just as much as the exterior. Bowman Real Hot Rods handled the insert and gauges using Greening Auto and Classic Instruments pieces. The steering column with push-button Start is from ididit and is topped off with a Momo steering wheel; the rearview mirror is a Billet Specialties item; and the cold air coming in is from Vintage Air. For the upholstery, Tracy Weaver from the Recovery Room Hot Rod Interiors in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, outfitted the seats with two-tone brown leather.
Rollers & Binders
When it came down to the wheel selection, obviously there are a lot of choices to pick from, however, only a set of Schott Fusions would do for this Chevy II. To fill the wheelwells, 17x7s were ordered for the front along with a pair of 18x9s for the rear; all wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza rubber, 215/45 fronts with 255/45 rears. Bringing it all to stop in a hurry, Wilwood binders are on all four corners, featuring 13- and 11-inch rotors, front and rear.
We're talking trick items here. Structural rigidity comes from Bowman Real Hot Rods with its full frame and a tubular K-member. Rounding out the remainder of the suspension is a Heidts Superide and a narrowed independent rear suspension setup. To accommodate the rear rollers, Bowman Real Hot Rods modified the wheeltubs.