We all know the formula for going fast and one of the key factors is cash. Spend more money and most likely you’ll have faster lap times. But what if you don’t have stacks of Benjamins just sitting around waiting to be spent? Well, companies like Church Boys Racing feel that if the cash you have is spent right, the payoff can be much better handling compared to stock.
The gang from Church Boys Racing is always the first company to RSVP for the Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge. They are not afraid to mix it up with the often much higher dollar entries. And frankly, we’ve never been disappointed by anything we have tested with its parts.
For this year’s Challenge they brought a relatively mildly modded ’67 Nova. No mini-tubs housing huge rollers, no massive brakes with rotors the size of a medium pizza. In fact, if you look at the cost of their suspension parts, it ends up being far down the less-expensive side of the bell curve. And, in keeping with the wallet friendly theme of their suspension parts, they worked it so the other bits you would need can be found without breaking the bank. For example, the braking system is from a ’98-’02 F-body and can be found for under $900—for all four corners. It makes for an overall system that gives you a lot of handling performance for your money.
After all, wasn’t the Chevy II Nova the Bow Tie’s value leader?
On the Road — Jim Campisano
I love going back to the logbook a few weeks after test driving a vehicle to see what my impressions were and if they jibe with what I remember. In the case of the Church Boys Racing Nova, the answer is absolutely. Here are the first two sentences from my entry: “Everything feels like it’s working together. The ride is smooth, not jittery.”
Taking this a step further, everything seemed to be in harmony in the suspension. Everyone tries to get that perfect combination of ride, handling and NVH, and for a spend on a workingman’s budget, Church Boys achieved that with this Chevy II. It pulled more g’s on the skidpad than our C5 FRC Corvette bogey car, and was 1 mph faster through the slalom. The only place the Vette had an advantage was in the lap times on the autocross/open track event.
More from the logbook: “This suspension is finely tuned. It’s stiffer than the convertible they brought last year and that makes a lot of difference. It just feels more refined.” Refined is not a word you often associate with an early Chevy II, but the Church Boys products inspire praise like this. The Nova kept its composure, even over the rough stuff on our test route. I especially liked the steering, which was tight and on-center, but not darty or twitchy.
Track Test Evaluation — Mary Pozzi
Our two-day Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge allows every company that brings a car time to test, then adjust to improve whatever needs improving for the different ways they’re driven in the official timed portions. Things like sway bars, tire pressures, shocks ... even springs and sometimes alignment, get tweaked to make those five timed laps special and, uh ... fast. Some cars need a lot of changes while others need none. Today, the only thing the Church Boys ’67 Nova needed was something it couldn’t have ... a big, fat tire so all that suspension goodness could be shared with the pavement.
This year’s Nova was purchased by the present owner about 20 years ago and had a somewhat storied life as a drag/show car. As there are limited opportunities for both, the car sat in the garage most of this time and as the owner told me, “It stopped being fun.” Fast forward to 2009 and once Chuck Church entered the picture, things started happening. Tubular arms, Viking and Afco double-adjustable shocks, bars and springs, and a Church Boys triangulated four-link rear found their way into a small garage and eventually onto the little Nova. Fitting the car with upgraded brakes donated by a late-model Camaro (fronts) and Mustang (rears), and Billet Specialties wheels wrapped with Dunlop Durezza tires completed the build, and guess what? The Nova became fun once more.
My time spent behind the wheel found the car predictable and comfortable, and exhibiting the performance Church Boys is known for. Power generated from the LQ4 didn’t overpower the suspension, steering, or brakes and seemed to be a perfect fit. Ride quality was good and no matter if I was braking, turning, or putting power down, the car felt light, tight, positive, and very nimble making that compliance threshold high and wide ... huge confidence builder here, folks.
What especially stood out was the ability to take a set and from corner entry to track out, it was easy to stay on the driving line. Right from the start, the Dunlops stuck exceptionally well and I noted no change of grip from the first lap to the last. I was able to move the Nova around at will, yet never felt traction loss taking a back seat to overall car control.
Normally, I’m not a fan of slow steering ratios but for this car, that 20:1 rack fit the bill nicely and especially so in the tight and twisty “Z” section of our Streets course. The brakes were somewhat touchy with initial pad bite but very manageable once the “Hello, I’m Mary and this is my right foot” introduction part was done. So dialed-in, it’s hard to not find that apex with a car this nice and if you happen to manage that one, get yourself to a driving school ’cause it’s not the car’s fault. Now, if I could just find a way to get more rubber under those wheelwells.
As a final word, when I drive stuff for this Challenge I don’t know lap times nor do I really care. What I’m looking for in a car is an easy feel with all parts working in harmony, interior bits that fits me well, compliance, and that wide swath of willingness that gets all the suspension awesome sauce happily to the ground. Times are only a small part and if you’re looking for a number to hang your hat on, have at it. If you want an excellent package that works and have a Nova that’s begging for some serious g’s on the twisties, take in miles on the Power Tour, or throw down some fun (and fast) autocross or track laps, look no further than the Church Boys. Lap times tell a mere part of the story and the owner of this car said it best, “Before I installed the Church Boys suspension, I had a 50-mile drive radius. Now I could drive my car to New York City if I wanted to.” And isn’t that the real point of the exercise?
|Type: 2005 LQ4, PRC 243 CNC-ported heads|
|Block: GM Iron|
|Fuel Delivery: CBR fuel tank with ’10 Camaro fuel pump and corner pickups, GM 8.1 injectors, FAST LSXRT intake, FAST fuel rails|
|Clutch or Stall: 2,800 Circle D|
|Rearend: 9-inch Ford, Nodular center, Daytona pinion support, 3.50 gear, TracLoc, and 31-spline axles|
|Chassis: Stock with subframe connectors|
|Front Suspension: CBR tubular upper and lower arms|
|Steering: CBR power rack-and-pinion|
|Spindles: Stock GM|
|Sway Bar: CBR|
|Brakes: 12-inch LS1 Camaro drilled/slotted rotors and Hawk pads|
|Rear Suspension: CBR triangulated four-link|
|Sway Bar: CBR|
|Brakes: 12-inch Cobra drilled/slotted rotors and Hawk pads|
|Wheels and Tires|
|Wheels: Billet Specialties Mag G 18x8 front and 18x10 rear|
|Tires: Dunlop Direzza ZII, 255/35/18 front and 265/35/18 rear|
|Cost of Suspension: $5,591 for front and rear kits|
|LF: 895, RF: 919|
|LR: 790, RR: 793|
|F: 53.4, R: 46.6|
|F: 55.57, R: 44.43|
|’67 Chevy||C5 Vette|
|Slalom:||45.2 mph||44.1 mph|