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1967 Chevy Nova - The Terror of Tennessee

Danny Griffin's Wicked '67 Nova

Grant Peterson Feb 12, 2007
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I'm not sure that I need to write a single word about Danny Griffin's immaculate '67 Nova. It's rare to find a car that speaks so well for itself, which in turn speaks highly of Danny's vision. This car is a great example of how to make every part of a project flow together and complement each other; no bolt-on oddities from Aisle 9 to distract from what the car really is.

Danny's vision started 10 years ago after buying the little Nova out of a local trader paper for a measly $2,500. It was an original, fairly intact car, despite the fact that it possibly had spent some time as a Super Stocker somewhere down the line. It still had the original interior, console, 12-bolt, etc.; the only things that were missing were the engine and transmission. Working on their house had sidetracked the Griffins, but the Nova wasn't too far from Danny's mind.

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Sitting dormant in the garage next to the Nova was a 700-pound hint of what to do to the car-a '69 Corvette 427 engine with 390 hp. After the house was completed, Danny then turned his attention to the '67 and found a way to shoehorn the big-block and a TH400 into it. A Pinto frontend was installed, and the 12-bolt was rebuilt with 3.42 gears and a Posi thrown in for good measure.

Apparently, this lasted for an entire fun-filled year and Danny was addicted. He needed more power, so a 502 was crafted, starting with a GM block that wound up spinning the dyno's needles to 602 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque.

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Another year went by and Danny was feeling sluggish again. It just so happened that a local bracket racer and friend, Danny Garrison, blew up his 454 and was looking for a short-block; the 502 was priced and sold.

Danny bought a new Merlin block and rotating assembly from Eagle Racing in Knoxville, Tennessee. The new 540 monster made 650 hp and 620 lb-ft of torque. Dart heads cap the combustion chambers and a Demon King 1050-cfm carb sits atop the intake. The overbore also needed a bigger duration solid roller lifter bumpstick, which he found through COMP Cams. A March Serpentine pulley system keeps everything spinning together. Since this motor could handle it, a 300-horse shot of nitrous was added, just to push his luck even more.

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Now that Danny felt happy with the response from the gas pedal, he decided the rest of the car needed the same attention. The car was stripped and hauled over to G&S Fab and Suspension in Athens, Alabama, for a chassis makeover. The earlier-installed Pinto underpinnings were ditched in favor of custom tubular A-arm suspension with a power rack-and-pinion setup. A Chassisworks Fab 9 rearend housing, replete with Detroit Locker, 3.50:1 cogs, 35-spline Moser axles, and ladder bars were hung out back. While the car was there, Greg Blades widened the wheeltubs by 3 inches to accommodate the 17x12 Americans. Next, it was off to Steagall Fabrication in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to get media blasted.

Danny took the clean body to Chris Averitt Motorsport, where the body was worked and prepped before Chris sprayed the Sherwin Williams Sparkle Silver Metallic, followed by the red metallic flames and orange pinstriping.

After it was cut, rubbed, and brought back home, Danny started the final assembly, including the installation of a Gear Vendors Over/Underdrive unit and Vintage Air Gen II climate control system.

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Through it all, Danny knew the Hot Rod magazine Power Tour was coming up, so he hustled to get it to Malone Enterprises in Elkmont, Alabama, where everything in the interior was covered in raspberry leather. The experts there installed the Krist Kustom front seats and fabricated a custom rear seat and center console. This interior is a definite highlight of Danny's car and Randy's work. With two weeks remaining until the Power Tour, Danny was at home finishing up everything, with lots of help from his son, Camden, and friends Mark Turner, Craig Anderson, and Michael Ray.

Why does it always come down to the wire? We don't know either, but needless to say, it was finished the night before the Power Tour. Danny joined the Tour from Nashville to Tallahassee; not bad for its maiden voyage. Danny has worked out the bugs by now, and is having a blast. We wonder what his next motor will be?



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