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True Street '72 Chevy Nova - Out Of Hand

By Tommy Lee Byrd, Photography by Tommy Lee Byrd

If you're around old cars very long, you'll notice that most projects shift gears at some point in the buildup. The owners might say it started out to be a driver, but it just got out of hand. The same can be said for this '72 Nova, owned by Indiana's Brian Adams. He bought the car partially complete and intended on building a weekend cruiser with A/C.

But things changed. Obviously. The result is a wicked street car, producing 950 hp, thanks to an all-aluminum 632ci big-block. Brian runs in the NMCA True Street class, where cars are required to make a 30-mile drive, and most cars run in the 9-second range in the quarter-mile.

Brian works at BES Racing Engines in Guilford, Indiana, and came across the Nova through a long-time customer and New York native, Jaimie Stanton. The car was purchased without the drivetrain, but most of the chassis work was complete. The paint was finished, so Brian's efforts were concentrated on the engine, transmission and interior, along with all the final detail work. Brian completed the car in 2008 and began testing the combination at local tracks. So far, he's run a best of 9.11 at 147 mph in the quarter, and the fact that it's an all-motor car makes it much more consistent than his forced induction and nitrous-fed competitors.

Underneath, Brian's Nova is equipped with a nice selection of components to strengthen and lighten it, while also increasing traction. The modifications started up front, with a set of chrome-moly upper and lower control arms from PA Racing. Then, a pair of QA1 coilovers replaced the original springs, and the front sway bar went to the swap meet pile. Another weight saving measure came in the form of Strange brakes on all four corners, which consist of aluminum four-piston calipers and lightweight rotors. The Nova rolls on a set of American Racing TrakStar wheels, 15x3.5 up front and 15x12 out back, all wrapped in M/T rubber. The True Street class requires DOT-approved street tires, so Brian runs M/T 295/65R15 drag radials, which get the job done and look awesome tucked deeply into the quarter-panels.

Novas have never been known to accept a very wide rear tire, so the frame rails were moved inward and deeper tubs were installed to accommodate the big radials. The original leaf springs are long gone, and Jaimie Stanton is responsible for setting up the ladder bar rear suspension. A pair of Strange coilovers help in the traction department, while the Competition Engineering subframe connectors keep chassis flex to a minimum. The Nova also has a rear anti-roll bar, which keeps the car level off the line.

When Brian changed the direction of this car's build, he had intentions of competing in the Hot Rod Magazine Pump Gas Drags. The engine in his Nova is built to run on 93-octane gas, so the compression ratio isn't insanely high, making it perfect for NMCA True Street action. Tony Bischoff started with a World Products aluminum block, and opened the cylinders up to 4.600 inches. When the machine work reached completion, he installed a Callies crankshaft that features a 4.750-inch stroke, bringing total displacement to 632. A set of Eagle 6.200-inch connecting rods sling Ross pistons, while a Milodon oil pump heads up the lubrication department.

Atop the block is a pair of Edelbrock CNC Victor cylinder heads, packed with enormous Manley valves motivated by a Crane camshaft with 282/302 duration and 0.800-inch lift. Fabricated aluminum valve covers hide the Jesel rocker arms and look great inside the super clean and simple engine bay. The mill is fed by an ACCEL Gen 7 DFI system using an Edelbrock intake manifold, while an MSD lights the fire in the combustion chambers.

Outgoing air flows through a set of Hooker headers and 3 1/2-inch exhaust before entering the Magnaflow mufflers, and emitting a beautiful tune. The big-block makes 947 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel. Behind the rat is a JW Powerglide transmission built to withstand lots of abuse. Brian uses a 5,100 rpm stall converter to leave the line with tons of force, and a TCI shifter to select the gear he wants.

Stanton finished the bodywork and paint before selling the car to Brian, and he did an awesome job with it. The body is all steel, aside from the fiberglass cowl induction hood, and Jaimie worked hard to restore the '72 Nova body. The panels are super straight and aligned precisely, and the Dupont Prowler Orange has been sanded and buffed to perfection. The finishing touches consist of a silver Yenko stripe kit, and two license plates that read "PUMP GAS."

Inside, you'll find simple styling, as the interior is basically stock, with the exception of the aluminum Kirkey seats. A Covan's Classic gauge panel replaces the stock unit, and accommodates the Auto Meter gauges. Simpson harnesses keep Brian safe, as does the 8.50-certified roll cage, complete with a window net.

Throughout the buildup process, Brian received lots of help from his boss, Tony Bischoff. And while the build may have gotten out of hand, Brian's wife, Stephanie supported him all the way, which is always a good thing.

Brian plans to keep running in the True Street class, and with the car's moderate compression and bulletproof bottom end, he may even consider a power adder. Either way, Brian isn't complaining, as his Nova proves to be a fan favorite and a strong force on race day.

For more web exclusive photos visit superchevy.com.

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By Tommy Lee Byrd
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