Bob bought the 505hp crate LS7 from GM Performance Parts just after the engine was made available. At the time, no one was doing wet sump conversions to the Z06 engine, so Bob and his crew kept the dry sump oiling system for simplicity. And it fit nicely inside the Nova's engine compartment, except for the oil tank being a bit too tall.
During mock up, Bob noticed the tank might hit the front right tire on hard turns, so he shortened the tank for extra clearance, cutting its capacity to 6 quarts. Handling cooling duties for the LS7 is an aluminum PRC radiator with Meziere water pump and an electric fan to draw air. MSD coils handle ignition duties, and a set of reworked Camaro headers spits the exhaust out back to the Stainless Steel Works exhaust system. Funneling air into the LS7's intake is a custom-built inlet that runs from the left front wheelwell to the throttle body, created by Bob himself. A Street & Performance serpentine system keeps the A/C compressor, alternator, and oil pump spinning with the motor.
Behind the LS7 is a built 4L60E. To help the transmission work with the motor, Bob changed the reluctor wheel on the LS7 crank to an LS2 wheel, and also upgraded some of the 4L60's internals with some 4L65 parts. Transferring power from the trans to the DTI 9-inch is a custom-made driveshaft that Bob built. After working on airplanes for decades, making custom parts for cars is no problem
With the drivetrain installed it was time to finish off the interior. To make driving the car as comfortable as possible, a Vintage Air system was installed to handle interior heating and cooling duties, Nu-Relics power windows take car of the glass, and to make sure interior noise isn't a problem, Bob used Dynamat to insulate all the interior sheetmetal. The custom leather upholstery on the stock bucket seats and center console were done by Joe Ruelle at Left Coast Trimmers, and keeping tabs on the LS7's performance are Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges mounted in a Covan's Classic Cluster. Controlling the Nova is done with a Billet Specialty steering wheel, and a Shiftworks shifter handles gear selection duties.
For stopping, Bob went with Aerospace Components disc braes with four piston calipers (front and rear), and 12-inch two piece rotors that areboth slotted and drilled.. Finishing off the Nova are a set of American Racing five-spoke chrome wheels, with 235/40R18 tires up front, and 275/40R18 rubber out back.
Best of all, this Nova sees lots of pavement. Bob drives the car for a week every couple of months (when you have a huge car collection, this is quite a bit, and all the cars in Bob's collection are drivers). He also drives it to various shows.
In today's world of retro looks, nostalgia craze, and trying to meld the best of Detroit's golden era with modern technology, we think Bob Phelp's Nova shows everyone how a new heart in an old soul of a car can make for one awesome ride.
Watch for more on Bob Phelp's car collection and some of his other LS-powered creations in future issues of Super Chevy-Ed