Jason Shell is an unbiased car guy. As long as performance is first on the list of priorities, he can appreciate most any kind of build. He's constructed several performance cars out of his home shop in Tennessee, including an early '80s Malibu wagon with a Grand National V-6, a heavily nitrous'd late model GTO, and he even stepped out of his comfort zone with an import (which he says definitely won't happen again). Regardless of the vehicle, Jason isn't afraid of trying something different, so he did just that with this '72 Chevy Nova. It's a powerhouse with its ProCharged LQ4 engine, but there are plenty of options in terms of handling with its versatile suspension setup.
Rewind to 2008, Jason is working out the bugs in his GTO when he gets the opportunity to trade his other project, a '95 Camaro convertible, for a bright orange Nova. The previous owner had parted the car out, so Jason received the leftovers, which was a solid rolling chassis with all sorts of potential. While the Nova waited patiently in the shop, Jason was involved in a horrific accident, which literally split his GTO in half and threw him from the driver's seat, even though he was wearing a seatbelt. The car was completely destroyed and Jason was severely injured, leading to an eight-month recovery process. While he was in the hospital, he used his laptop to order parts for the Nova and called upon a few buddies to help during his recovery.
In July of 2009, Jason was given a clean bill of health and concentrated on finishing the Nova. Without question, the crash taught him a lesson, but his love for high performance cars never withered in the least. In fact, the Nova greatly surpassed his prior projects in terms of horsepower, even though his intentions were to swap in a fairly basic LS1 engine and T56 six-speed transmission.
Underneath, the Nova features a set of Global West control arms up front, while a pair of QA1 coilovers soak up the bumps. Jason tossed the original drum brakes in favor of '98-02 Camaro discs fore, while '93-97 Camaro disc brakes attach to the 10-bolt rearend. The 8.5 rearend is narrowed 4 inches, and fit with a Strange differential, a 3.90 gear set and 28-spline axles from Hudlow. Rear suspension consists of Detroit Speed 2-inch drop leaf springs, combined with Cal-Trac bars to eliminate axle wrap on hard launches, while QA1 shocks offer vast adjustability.
Big-time power comes from one of GM's LS-based engines, the 6.0-liter. The engine's official name is the LQ4, which means it features a cast iron block. Jason got the used engine from Ryan Martin at LSX Power and Development, and had Frank Everett and the crew at Arrow Engine Machine to rebuild the short-block. Arrow bored the cylinders 0.030-inch over to bring overall displacement to 370 cubes, and then bolted the stock crankshaft in place after cleaning and prepping the block. A set of K1 forged connecting rods measures 6.125 inches in length and slings a set of Wiseco dished pistons, which create an 8.2:1 compression ratio in relation to the 71cc combustion chambers. The large chambers are a big advantage of using the "317" heads on boosted applications, and Jason uses a set of Stage 3 ported 317s from Patriot to get the job done.
The camshaft is from Comp, and features 0.617-inch lift on the intake valve and 0.637-inch lift on the exhaust side. Duration at 0.050-inch lift is 244-degree on the intake side with 248 on the exhaust, while the lobe separation angle comes in at 110 degrees. The intake manifold is an Edelbrock Victor Jr., which is fitted with Seimens 83-pound injectors and a 92mm throttle body. Fuel comes from an Aeromotive A1000 pump, while the original ignition system lights the fire.
Jason chose an F-1A ProCharger for the Nova and fabricated all of the piping and intercooler brackets himself. The centrifugal supercharger dumps 21 pounds of boost into the LQ4, and brings power output to an incredible level. We're talking 775hp and 750 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. All that muscle screams through a set of stepped LS-swap headers from BRP Hot Rods, and into a 3-inch exhaust system, complete with Kooks race mufflers. Behind the engine is a modified T56, which is controlled by a Spec Stage 3 clutch and a Hurst shifter.
Thanks to a host of versatile modifications, Jason can switch his car from Pro Touring to drag race trim by making a few simple adjustments and bolting on the race rubber, which consists of Mickey Thompson slicks, wrapped around Center Line Rev wheels. Current rolling stock consists of Boss 338 wheels, which measure 18x8 in front and 18x9.5 in back. The big rollers are hard to miss, thanks to custom coating from Chris Light at Color Me Crazy Powder Coating.
To fit the Nitto NT555 285/35ZR18 tires, Jason had Donnie Johnson at Smoky Mountain Chassis install a Detroit Speed mini-tub kit. While the car was in the shop, Donnie Johnson fabricated and installed a six-point roll cage to stiffen the X-body and keep Jason safe.
Inside, you'll find a pair of Kirkey aluminum race seats, but that was one of the only measures taken to reduce weight. Other interior modifications include a Covans Classic dash insert filled with Auto Meter gauges, a Grant steering wheel and Simpson five-point harnesses. No radio, no air conditioning, and no power accessories give Jason's Nova a no frills attitude, even though its Hugger Orange paint job does little to discard attention. The car had a great paint job when Jason got it, so he was careful to keep it that way and save a few bucks in the long run.
So far, Jason's best in the eighth-mile is a 7.10 at 110 mph, but the previous clutch had serious issues, which resulted in lack luster, 2.1-second 60-foot times. However, with the new clutch and that kind of mph, he'll be seeing 6s before long and reaping the benefits of a comfortable and street-legal muscle car. No matter the activity, Jason's Nova is up to the task, and looks good doing it.