There are no windows or door panels. There's no carpeting or insulation. Hell, there's no transmission tunnel to shield you from the heat or whine of the Lenco 4-speed. There is tubing everywhere, for the roll cage, for the one-off custom gauge pod, for the skeleton of the doors-and they're all painted bright orange so you can really see them.
You've climbed over the cage and plopped yourself down in the unpadded aluminum race seat. The minute owner Mike Eden reaches to the overhead console and pushes the Start button, all hell breaks loose inside. The 5-inch mufflers, which exit through the side of the body on either side of the car (just below your ears) bark, spit and scream at you. And that's at idle. Once he puts the Lenco into First, and gets on the throttle, you start wondering if your life insurance is paid up.
This '70 Nova may be called Pro Street, but it's the closest we've come to Pro Stock with license plates. This sumbitch is hot inside and there is no air conditioner to cool you off. You can smell the exhaust fumes and the high octane race fuel as you cruise along. The more gas the owner feeds it, the louder and more rambunctious it becomes. You can hear the giant Mickey Thompson ET Streets out back kicking up thousands of stones into the wheel tubs. And when he punches it, well, you better be holding onto something. The Nova explodes forward, then kicks sideways. The howl of the big-block rattles your eardrums and you're soon having way too much fun.
This month's cover car actually started life as a '62 Bubbletop. No, we aren't on crack, that's how this project really started. About three and a half years ago, Mike started working on a '62 full size Chevy he had bought in 1998. The plan was to turn the '62 into a Pro Street car until Mike got a call from friend Lonny Gordon, owner of East Coast Muscle Cars. Lonny told Mike about a rolling chassis that Bob Meshey from Way Cool Rod Shop had just completed. The customer who'd ordered the chassis had lost interest, and it needed a new home. With Lonny acting as a go-between, a deal was struck for Mike to purchase the chassis and bring it home to mate up with his '62 body.
After getting into the project, Mike realized the '62 just wouldn't work with the chassis. So the '62 project went on the shelf and the search began for a body. Mike liked the idea of putting a '68-72 Nova body on the chassis. The looks of the third gen Novas appealed to Mike and would fit nicely with his plans.
In July of 2003, Mike was at the Maple Grove Super Chevy show and spotted a Nova body that fit his needs, one that already had new GM quarter panels installed. A deal was struck, and it was his. In September of the same year, with the help of his friend Bob "Winey" Wineholt, the body was mounted to the chassis. What made this installation unusual was that a hurricane was tearing through the area, and Mike and Bob had to use three generators to get power and light so they could get the body mounted.
After the body was mounted, the car spent the next 2 1/2 years between Wineholt's shop, East Coat Muscle Cars and Mike's shop to get everything finished. Bob, a blacksmith by trade who is just as handy with a welder and fabrication equipment, did most of the fabrication on the car. The Nova's wheelwells were stretched, the rain gutters removed, and custom bumpers from Glasstek were fitted to the car.
Mike contributed to the fabrication also, using experience from his tool and die company to help craft parts and pieces for the Nova. All the mounting pieces, brackets and related hardware were made by Mike, and he crafted the Nova's slick column mounted gauge pod along with a 6 and 8-inch cowl hood to accommodate anything intake wise for the Nova's big-block. Wiring and plumbing the chassis was done by Dave Dennis of East Coast Musclecars.
Said big-block is a 540 cubic inch mill built by Martin Competition Engines. Balanced and blueprinted, this Rat motor features Dart alloy heads, Wiseco 13.9:1 pistons, custom ground cam with a Jesel belt drive system keeping the cam and crankshaft in sync. Oiling is taken care of with a Moroso dry sump system drawing from a Stefs 8-quart oil pan. Breathing duties are handled by a Dart intake manifold and Holley 4500 carb flowing 1050 cfm. Making sure the motor never starves for fuel is an electric fuel pump by Magnafuel. Igniting the massive fuel/air charge generated by all those parts is an MSD/Jesel belt-driven distributor.
The Rat's headers were custom made by Wineholt and coated with material from Air Born Coatings. The headers feed into 5-inch mufflers also custom made by Wineholt. At 6900 rpm, the motor makes an Earth shaking 898 horsepower.
To get nearly 900 ponies from the crank to the pavement, Mike uses a Lenco CS1 4-speed with a McLeod clutch and pressure plate encased in a Trick Titanium bellhousing. From there an Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft transfers the power to a Strange four-link rear with 40-spline axles, 4.30 gears and a spool, all built by Way Cool Rod Shop.
Once all of the mechanicals were in place, the car was taken to East Coast Musclecars where Joel Keller took care of all the paint and body work, finessing everything into perfect fit tolerances and smoothness, and eventually covering the car in PPG Satin Black. Dane Geesey added the finishing touch with the flame graphics on the cowl hood.
Mike had always wanted a serious Pro Street car for his own amusement after working on and being around so many during his life. When building his Nova, very little was purchased for the car; most of the parts and pieces were fabricated by Mike and his friends. Those pieces that were bought ended up with modifications to fit the car just right.
Besides being hauled to various Chevy events throughout the year, Mike takes the Nova for at least one good drive a month, and will also take the car to local cruise events or around the neighborhood to rattle some windows. The next step is to get it dialed in for the drag strip (for starters, he'll have to add some sort of makeshift side windows). We can't wait to see what kinds of times it turns, but we wouldn't be shocked by mid 8s.
With as spectacular as this Nova turned out, we can't wait to see what Mike does with that '62 Bubbletop he started with.