Back in our high school years, most of us pined the time away fantasizing about our dream cars, some lusting for a great cruiser, others a full-blown racecar. Results of these dreams usually vary-some people get it right, others end up driving the standard "family" car or worst case scenario, the pitiful "it-gets-me-to-work-and-back-mobile."
Joe Kosiba's first purchase out of high school was a 1963 Nova. The Illinois resident appears to be one of the people who got it right-he has a 9-second street car, and a great looking one at that. Kosiba bought this rust-free '63 SS because it was, at the time, not a heavily desired model. He figured he could have a unique looking car while simultaneously smoking most everything on the street. "The older Novas weren't that popular," Kosiba recalls, "so I didn't have to worry about another one pulling up next to me." He purchased the Nova in 1990 while he was living in Tucson, Arizona, and has been working on it ever since. During the first few years of ownership, Kosiba dropped in an engine and transmission and raced it whenever he could. The Nova still had the 4-wheel drum brake setup and a pearl white paint job. Two years ago Kosiba decided it was time to shake things up a bit, and replaced just about everything. Fast-forward to 2006, and the Nova is out on the street, or racing at NMCA events across the country.
The motor is a 408 small-block with JE pistons, a Comp cam, and Brodix Track 1 aluminum cylinder heads, all meticulously prepared by Fast Times Motorworks in Morton Grove, Illinois. A Holley HP series carb is mated to an Edelbrock Super Victor intake, with a K&N filter sitting atop the breathing parts, and Hooker headers push bad air to a 3-inch Dynomax exhaust. The engine bay is peerless, with lots of nice flat black surrounding the engine, one that puts out about 600 hp to the ground-without the single stage nitrous kit Kosiba has mounted.
The front suspension contains tubular upper and lower control arms and single-adjustable Strange shocks. Kosiba kept the manual steering box, and added a 1-inch sway bar to help keep the Nova pointed in the right direction. In the rear, CalTrac bars assist leaf springs, giving the car plenty of bite off the line. A TH350 3-speed sends the power to the wheels, via a 9-inch rear end with 3.50 gears and Strange axles. It's all attached to a Hurst shifter and custom 3-inch steel driveshaft. Wheels are Weld Draglites, 15x7 up front, and 15x10 in the rear. Kosiba also installed mini-tubs in the rear to fit the larger diameter tires: monster M/T Drag Radials (325/50-15s), with BF Goodrich 205/60-15s up front. Wilwood does all the braking, with 13-inch rotors in the nose and 11-inch stoppers at the back end. The interior is pure business, with a 10-point roll cage, Kirkey race seats, 5-point harnesses, and Auto Meter gauges.
The result is a best time of 9.65 at 139 mph, and Kosiba recently won the 10-second MSD True Street class at the NMCA race in Atlanta. His first outing in the revamped Nova was a little different however.
The car was finished just one day before the July NMRA event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. Kosiba took the car out and ran it without any testing, posting a respectable 9.76 at 137 mph. He was within reach of a runner-up trophy, but officials stripped Kosiba of any honors after realizing he didn't have a license to run in the 9s.
Kosiba remains enthusiastic about his vehicle. "It's been a great car," he said. "It started out as a low-budget thing out of high school, then as you get older, and start making more money, things change. I think the whole project has turned out pretty nice."