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1970 Chevy Nova - Small Car, Big Performance

Total Cost Involved - '70 Nova

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Editor's Note: Last month, we brought you the results of car number five from our Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge, presented by Nitto Tire. This month, we give you the lowdown on how the Total Cost Involved Nova and Air Ride Technologies' '66 Chevelle performed. Next month, we conclude our coverage from the event with Chris Alston's Chassisworks Nova and The Roadster Shop's Chevelle. For more pictures and video, please visit

The screaming yellow '70 Nova, brought to the challenge by TCI, has been used to sort out and test a variety of suspension components. After all, a company can tell you their stuff works or they can bolt it on and prove it. The Nova was picked up for only $2,500 and work soon began. To get the car built, TCI teamed up with Classic Performance Products (CPP) and the result is one sweet Chevy.

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Constructed in a mere five weeks, the Nova certainly doesn't look like it was rushed. In fact, it's nice enough to enter any car show, but the real purpose of this car is to be driven-hard. In fact, the Nova is no stranger to our battery of track tests. In November of '07 it was tested on our slalom and skidpad tests. At that time, the Nova did better on the slalom course with an average speed of 49mph, but on the skidpad it was worse, with an average of .91g. This could be due to the suspension being tightened up, which typically helps the skidpad at the cost of slalom numbers, or it could be that we were on a different track.

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The suspension parts on the Nova, while extensive, are still straightforward to install. According to Evan Dally, sales manager at TCI, "This system can easily be installed in two days. When we built the Nova, we set the small-block in the front subframe and had it in the car within three hours. For the rear, the hardest part is drilling a few holes." The price listed for the suspension parts includes basic 11-inch front disc and rear drum brakes. Our tester had 4-wheel discs from Wilwood.

Driver's Impression - On The Autocross Course
This Nova offered good, manageable power, decent acceleration out of corners, with fair traction. The brakes, however, were very grabby, could never be modulated, and offered intermittent lock up at unexpected times. This made the car feel heavy and sluggish in the corners, but the car did provide good feedback so, unless I was braking, there were no surprises. Proper preparation, corner entry, and a slower speed were very important to get this car around the autocross course the quickest. Like the Fatman Chevelle [tested January '09 issue-Ed], the TCI Nova isn't well suited for autocross in its present format. Once the brakes are sorted out, this car will be excellent for street use and should be much more fun to drive through the cones. - Mary Pozzi

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Driver's Impression - On The street
I agree with Mary about the over-sentitive hydra-boosted brakes. On the plus side, those four-corner, six-piston Wilwoods sure did stop the car in a hurry. Other than this, there wasn't a lot not to like. The TCI Nova provided a nice, comfortable ride, with very quick/fairly accurate steering. It was way ahead of the C5 Vette in skidpad, autocross, and slalom testing. From the test log: "The average Joe would be pleased. Very good bang for the buck." - Jim Campisano



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