Will we ever lose the ubiquitous small-block? When the LS engine plan got cracked, Team Van Nus had Mike Hanson of Portage, Michigan, produce a little-block with 355 iconic cubic inches and a shadowy echo of the past. He shipped the parts to Steve Tagget in Kalamazoo for the requisite machining. Hanson began with a '71 cylinder block and filled it with the Ohio Crankshaft rotating assembly (forged crank, H-beam rods, and SRP pistons with an 11.7:1 compression ratio). Total seal ring packs and SRP pins complete the big picture. What else but a Comp hydraulic roller (0.507/0.510 lift, 240/246 degrees duration at 0.050 inch), springs, pushrods, guideplates, and Harland Sharp 1.5:1 roller rockers? Hanson tied it all together with a Cloyes Tru-Roller timing gear and bolted on a kicked-out Moroso oil pan. He flipped the engine upright and proceeded with the Edelbrock Performer cylinder heads (2.00/1.60-inch valves) and companion Air-Gap intake casting. The 750-cfm Demon sentinel is topped with a DSE air cleaner. Healthy tendrils of spark emanate from the MSD 6AL box, and total timing for this naturally aspirated pirate is 34 degrees BTDC. Exhaust matters are left to Chris Alston headers and a custom-bent 2 1/2-inch system. No dyno testing yet, but Van Nus estimates 450 hp. He had Todd Perry do up Turbo 350 the right way and included a Coan 11-inch, 2,600-stall converter. He linked the transmission to the rear axle (3.50:1 gears, Detroit Tru-Trac differential) with Denny's Driveshaft kryptonite propellers.
Team Van Nus trashed the dashpad and policed the area, smoothing the flats and sealing up the holes for the ashtray and cigarette lighter, all the while making new inserts for the Vintage Air HVAC controls and vents. Auto Meter gauges cluster in the slick, matte-finish Covan's panel, looking as if the ensemble grew there like a beautiful rogue moonlight mushroom. Joe supplanted the fuzzy electrical system with an American Autowire Highway 2 loom. Krist Kustoms (Fort Wayne) changed the face of the interior to mirror minimalist thinking and understated elegance. Nary a thread out of place. Almost too pretty to sink your rear into, but it's a fine foil for the urgent exterior. A B&M Pro Stick is at the ready. That snakeskin-wrapped Billet Specialties steering wheel isn't something you'd find on your daily beater.
Joe and Paul saved a bunch of loot by doing this part themselves. Joe has intimate knowledge of bodywork and spray guns, so paint jail wasn't an issue. They didn't have to wait for anyone. Joe applied PPG/Southern Polyurethanes Bizen Orange Pearl and treated the immaculate, uncluttered engine compartment with contrasting dark gray metallic.
Big V amended the Nova's ox-cart seriousness with a complete Chris Alston No-Fab front end module that includes subframe and firewall stringers, tubular control arms, spindles specific to the application, Vari-Shock coilovers (550 lb/in springs), and a Chris Alston antisway bar. Joe also suspended the narrowed Dutchman 9-inch axle with Vari-Shock coilovers (210 lb/in springs) dependent on a TCI four-link conversion.
Wheels and Brakes
On the skinny end, V posted 17x7 Intro Ram5 billet wheels and Kumho Ecsta SPT 215/45ZR tires. At the rear, he blew things up a little with 10-inch Ram5 wheels and 285/45ZR17 rubber. Consistent rough-duty braking is ensured by 13-inch Baer Tracks up front and 12-inch Baer Touring, on the back axle.