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Custom-Built, Big-Block-Powered 1970 Nova Street Beast

Power Glide: A mountain motor, a six-speed, and … sacrifice

Ro McGonegal Mar 21, 2018
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A great many of us coddle our special cars; that’s a fact. After all, they are exalted and quite likely become members of the immediate family. Some cultures hold that by any estimation nature as a whole brings a certain spirituality to things that might, or might not, have souls. Like our loving pets, we name them, give them identity, and give them permanence. There’s a lot of that consideration in the Nova of Rich and Kim Taylor.

The idea of putting locomotive-like torque in a drag race car is one thing; in a street machine it’s quite another thing. This caused Taylor and the troops to ponder the eventual outcome as well as the immediate effect. They’d have no choice but to build a wall to counter the massive grunt. Although aftermarket chassis makers could supply the new Maginot Line, these independent thinkers decided against that. They would build onto the existing GM subframe and extend the construction into a full perimeter chassis that would yield more than enough rigidity to balance the mountain motor and the emotion it inevitably creates.

002 1970 Custom Nova Street Machine 2/65
004 1970 Custom Nova Street Machine 3/65

“Many of our family and friends are very hands-on, fabricators willing to lend a hand,” Rich imparted. “A few of my friends built their own chassis to handle over 4,000 horsepower.” Rich’s Nova would only have half as much grief to deal with, so that’s just what he and his gang did when they got together and whittled down that stack of chrome-moly tubing to combat the inevitable twisting and bending. Ultimately, the Nova would hunker on RideTech air springs.

To install the Ford-like Chris Alston’s Chassisworks FAB9 housing, they set the back-end up with a custom four-link arrangement and located the mass with a Panhard rod. They grew the front suspension from Stainless Steel Brake Company spindles, put RideTech bags between the Heidts tubular control arms and then the fabricators checked chassis movement with a custom-made antisway bar. There was no thought of assuming the extra weight of an unnecessary rollcage.

One of Rich’s special pals is Dean Mattoni, a man from Toledo who’s apparently hell on sheetmetal and paint. “Candy Man” Mattoni (mostly) and Rich addressed the trim and styling cues germane to such car builds, to wipe away the obvious flashing and let the original form shine through. To that end, they removed the driprails; tightened up the gaps; chopped, shaved, and tweaked the bumpers; fashioned a spoiler for the decklid; and smoothed out the firewall, cowl, and new hood.

009 1970 Custom Nova Street Machine 4/65

The Taylors refer to their X-body as the Blacken Blue Nova for its deep blue and black accents fiendishly captured in the old-school marbleizing technique over the entire car, and that included the framerails. Dean wanted some flames flirting around out there. He laid them out on the hood flats and down the Nova’s flanks so they would flow with the natural contours and curves. He used candies and pearls to create the ghosting effect that would bury them so deep down in the blue that only the rays of the sun would be able to lure them out.

Meanwhile, Rich envisioned long trips in the reloaded Nova. He was all but panting to incorporate some of the sleep-robbing thought and designs he envisioned for the interior as well as making the place as safe and comfortable as it might be. The primary plan would be wrapped in the ambience of 2008 Pontiac G8 GT seats that Brian Huston covered in perforated leather. Hard to tell from where we’re sitting, but it looks like Rich got the seats at least. He settled the interior with custom door panels and a console that he crafted from wood and then had covered in that black hide. Though the Taylors decided against a serious HVAC system, they wanted to be tapping their toes down the road ahead. In Mentor, Brian Huston, this time wearing his Stereo Installs hat, extended a serious challenge to the mountain motor’s murderous machinations with a phalanx of Sony and Kicker components.

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At the end, he got sober about the years he missed. His reveal was candid and unusual. Rich talked about how the experience had brought change to his life, his very way of thinking. “The build consumed me for over three years. Working my day job to maintain the finances and then wrenching in the evenings seven days a week. Although the quality of the build was never sacrificed, I now realize that something had to give and it was my family that felt the sacrifice.” His wife, Kim, supported him every step of the build, offering ideas and grabbing wrenches on a regular basis without complaint, but somebody had to be there for their daughters [12 and 16], especially the older one who survived brain surgery without any lasting effects. It was a blessing and it was an omen.

“The long months prior and many other related items took their toll on me and put me in the hospital with only a few days left to complete it for an upcoming car show. Everyone jumped in and rallied in a concerted effort not to fail. It got done right and on time.” He made his resolve. “I will never sacrifice the love and attention of family and friends for a pile of well-painted, shiny, awesome steel that will never be there for you in time of need.” CHP

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Tech Check
Owners: Rich & Kim Taylor, Mentor, Ohio
Vehicle: 1970 Nova

Engine
Type: Merlin III tall-deck block
Displacement: 598 ci
Compression Ratio: 8.5:1
Bore: 4.600 inches
Stroke: 4.500 inches
Cylinder Heads: Trick Flow PowerPort 320, Ferrea 2.30/1.88 valves, 122cc combustion chambers
Rotating Assembly: K1 Technologies 4340 crankshaft, K1 H-beam connecting rods, Wiseco pistons (2.76cc dish)
Valvetrain: Comp Cams Ultra Pro Magnum 1.7:1 ratio, 3/8-inch pushrods, Comp springs and retainers
Camshaft: Erson custom blower grind (0.646/0.646-inch lift; 254/266-deg. duration at 0.050), 114-deg. LSA
Induction: Dart intake manifold, QFT 850-cfm carburetor w/ blow-through dual needle and seat conversion, Vortech V-11 XB110 supercharger, 17-gallon aluminum fuel cell
Ignition: Daytona Digital, MSD Pro Billet distributor, Taylor primary wires
Exhaust: Dynatech 2 1/8-inch primary headers, MagnaFlow mufflers, 3-inch stainless steel system
Ancillaries: Proform electric water pump, Auto Rad aluminum core w/ dual 16-inch fans, MSD alternator, custom beltdrive system, Painless wiring
Output (at the crank): 1,178 hp at 6,400 rpm, 1,056 lb-ft at 4,200 rpm w/ 8 psi boost
Machine Work: Powerline Racing Engines (Mentor, OH)
Built By: Powerline Racing Engines

Drivetrain
Transmission: TREMEC T-56 Magnum (massaged and assembled by Dederichs Motorsports, Fort Worth, TX), McLeod flywheel and RXT dual-disc clutch assembly, Dynotech driveshaft
Rear Axle: Chassisworks FAB9 housing, Strange Engineering carrier, limited-slip, 4.11:1 gears, West Coast Differentials 35-spline axles

Chassis
Frame: Chromoly full-frame construction
Front Suspension: Stainless Steel Brake Company (SSBC) spindles, Heidt’s control arms, RideTech coilover shocks, ShockWave air springs, custom antisway bar
Rear Suspension: Custom four-link, RideTech coilover shocks, ShockWave air springs, custom Panhard bar
Brakes: SSBC 14-inch rotors, six-piston calipers, front; SSBC 13-inch rotors, six-piston calipers, rear, SSBC master cylinder and proportioning valve, Kugel Komponents pedal assembly

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: American Racing VF497 19x9 front, 20x12 rear
Tires: Nitto Invo 245/40 front, 315/35 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Brian Huston (Mentor, OH)
Material: Leather
Seats: Pontiac G8 GT, Corbeau harnesses
Steering: Unisteer rack, Flaming River column, Flaming River Waterfall wheel
Shifter: TREMEC
Dash: Custom steel
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital VHX
Audio: Sony head unit, Kicker amps, front/rear speakers, subwoofer incorporated by Brian Huston at Stereo Installs (Mentor, OH)
HVAC: OE

Exterior
Bodywork: Rich Taylor and Dean Mattoni at Rocky’s Body Shop (Toledo, OH)
Paint By: Dean Mattoni
Paint: Custom Black n Blue by Matrix Automotive Finishes from NCW Enterprises (Northwood, OH)
Hood: Dynacorn
Grille: Dynacorn
Bumpers: OE

Photos by Robert McGaffin

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