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1965 Chevy Nova - Friday Night Gasser

Quarter Mile At A Time

By Andrew Schear

We know it's a sore subject but we've noticed that interest in rear-wheel-drive drag racing is fading in younger generations. It's hard to pinpoint what the cause is, but all too many youngsters are losing interest in something that their parents were passionate about. We understand that a '57 Chevy or a '55 Nomad may not be affordable to a teenager but what's wrong with a Third-Gen Camaro or perhaps a Chevelle? One thought that comes to mind is that youths today have no memory of the '60 drag scene simply because they weren't there to experience it.

Anyone who remembers seeing a solid axle gasser smokin' the tires down the quarter will forever be in awe. I wasn't around in the '60s but I've seen enough track photos to know that nothing looks like a Nova Gasser with the front wheels off the asphalt. At a recent trip to LA County Raceway, we spotted Bill Thompson's '65 nostalgia Nova doing a mean burnout in the waterbox. After a more detailed inspection we noticed that his Little Chevy boasted a straight axle frontend and a mechanically injected small-block running on methanol.

It turns out that Bill has wanted a straight axle car since he saw them as a kid at the drags. After making quite a few trips to the Pomona swapmeet and attending various shows in the Southern California area, he found what he thought was the perfect ride: a '55 sedan straight axle bracket car. After an agreement on the price had been made both the husband and the wife who owned the car had instant regrets.

Reluctantly, Bill let the '55 go and once again began his search for his childhood dream. About a year later while attending the Hot Rod reunion, Bill saw a '65 Nova doing a two-foot wheelstand. He fell in love instantly and knew it had to be his. Although the heart of Bill's '65 is all racer, he intends to make a few changes to make the Nova street legal. As it sits, the '65 runs in the low 10s, but Bill is confident that "Deuces Wild" is capable of shaving a few more tenths.

The basis for the Nova's power comes from a 385-inch small-block running on methanol. The motor has retained the Hillborn mechanical injection as well as the Jerico four-speed tranny that can be shifted with little or no clutch. With a stout 616hp engine, a Dana 60 rear axle was necessary to harness the '65 awesome muscle. Since speed is in direct relationship to weight and power, fiberglass fenders, hood and bumpers were installed to keep the Nova lightweight.

Although Bill has owned his nostalgia machine only a short while, he's managed to form quite a relationship with her. He tells us that he looks forward to Friday night drags all week long. No doubt if each of us had a 10-second bracket racer we would feel the same way come Friday afternoon. After hearing the pleasant news that Bill plans to run the Nova at Super Chevy in 2003 we felt better about letting him put his burnout king back on the trailer. Cars like "Deuces Wild" give back a bit of history to those who weren't there to see it first hand, such as myself. Every time Bill leaves the starting line we see a small glimpse of the '60s drag scene, and for that we should feel lucky.

TECH SPECS
Owner
Bill Thompson
Vehicle
'65 Nova
Engine
385-inch small-block, Brodix aluminum heads, LA forged crankshaft, Manley I-beam rods, 13.5:1 JE pistons, Engle mechanical roller camshaft, .678-inch lift, 318 degrees duration, Hillborn stack injection, Hillborn intake manifold, MSD billet distributor, Holley annihilator box with crank trigger, Headman headers, 4-inch Flowmaster exhaust, 616hp at 7,500 rpm on methanol
Transmission
Jerico four-speed, Mc Leod clutch
Suspension
(F) Econoline spindles, chrome tubular A-arms, Mac's leaf springs, Koni adjustable drag shocks, J.F.Z. disc brakes
(R) Dana 60 rear axle, 4.88:1 spool, assembled by O&R Rear Ends, Koni coil-over drag shocks, Competition Engineering ladder bar suspension by Bob Dietz and Precision Welding, Rialto, California, (909) 428-1299

Wheels
Cragar SS
(F) 15x4 inches
(R) 15x12 inches
Tires
(F) Mickey Thompson 15x 4.5 inches
(R) W Phoenix FX 29.5x13x15 inches

Exterior
Fiberglass frontend, fiberglass bumpers, fiberglass hood, lightweight doors, radiused wheel wells, Tangerine single-stage paint by John Gumastead, Lake Arrowhead, California
Interior
Fiberglass bucket seat, custom made carpet kit, custom door panels by Jose's Upholstery, Rialto, California, Autometer liquid filled gauges, Jerico vertical gate shifter, 12-point custom fabricated rollcage by Precision Welding

By Andrew Schear
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