Who needs a fancy new Mustang when you can make a classic shoebox Nova handle just as well? Bryan Fargo worked as a mechanic for Roush Industries in California while in school to become an engineer, and took some heat for being the only guy in the heart of Mustang performance to be driving a Chevy. (Roush sells thousands of souped-up new Mustangs annually-including supercharged versions-through a network of Ford dealers.)
After purchasing the Nova as a running project in '99, Bryan sold his '72 Malibu to pay for paint and bodywork on his new driver. Slowly and over time on the weekends, upgrades were made to the car as school and money allowed. After all, the Nova was his daily driver and he couldn't have it sitting.
Once he could afford a daily commuter, Bryan retired the Nova to weekend cruising and dragstrip duty. But going in a straight line got boring, and the call of corner carving was the siren song necessary to turn Bryan to upgrading the Nova's handling abilities. Since a front subframe was out of the question cost-wise, Brian decided to upgrade the existing subframe and suspension. After doing some research, Bryan went to the suspension pros at Classic Performance Products (CPP). CPP had the products necessary, and within budget for the project. Here's what he got:
$699.00 6267TCA-UKS Mini-subframe with upper & lower tubular arms. These come pre-assembled with bushings and ball joints.
$569.00 6267COK Coilover spring and shock kit.
$149.00 CP108U A 1-inch diameter front sway bar. Black powdercoat finish, bolts on in OE mount, works with OE lower control arms & CPP tubular lower control arms.
$139.00 CP916U A 3/4-inch diameter rear sway bar. Black powdercoat finish, bolts to rear axle, requires simple drilling.
After installing all these parts, Bryan and some friends fabricated a rack-and-pinion steering system on the cheap (being an engineer has its advantages) to keep the Nova going straight and with better steering response than stock. The finishing touch was a big-brake upgrade so the Nova had plenty of whoa power. After hitting a couple of autocross events and doing some tuning, the '67 was ready for our event.
Driver's Impression - On the Autocross Course
I watched Nick Licata take each car through the slalom and was immediately impressed with CPP's Nova. The car appeared to be very well balanced with good response to directional changes and I wasn't disappointed one bit when I got my turn behind the wheel. This car started off fast and just improved from there. A couple of negatives, however, as the tilt column chose that day to self-destruct. This was remedied by bolting it in place. The steering wheel ended up a bit low and there was a hint of play every time I needed to change direction but not to worry, we got it done.
Another issue was having the accelerator pedal partially unhinge itself and then drop below the pedal rod. Being in the end sweeper when it happened didn't slow me down and I was able to power the Nova back and finish the run. The errant pedal was removed and ceremoniously thrown to the masses and my third, fourth, and fifth runs were made sans pedal. I think these runs were faster, too.
I loved the Nova in the offset slalom section and exiting this element heading for the crossover allowed for some intentional rotation. At the end of the hourglass just before the sweeper, I trail-braked hard and this car just slowed and turned in like expected. The brakes were great and stopped the car with minimal lockup, if any.
Handling the crossover also posed no issues, but on the fast return left-right-left element leading into the finish, there was a bit of push on corner entry. Trail-braking in my subsequent runs easily solved this and again, the Nova came around and got through the gates quickly. This car begs to be driven quickly and appeared to like its job. I was able to play "throw and catch," which was quite fun and still produces giggles as I write this three days later. Anyone that discounts a stock subframe, leaf spring suspension hasn't been introduced to this car!
My overall impression was that the CPP Nova is excellent. It's uncomplicated, easy to drive and performs great. What I really liked was that all the parts meshed well ... power, suspension, steering, and brakes all worked together creating a predictable platform. Aside from the steering column, don't change a thing! - Mary Pozzi
Driver's Impression - On the Street
When I first looked at CPP's Nova, I had the feeling it would be none too competitive. Compared to the other nine cars entered, it appeared to be sitting on its tippy toes. Of course, you have to remember that low doesn't automatically equate to stellar handling and too low can be as much a detriment as too high. The recovered bench seat didn't inspire confidence, either. Well, I'm here to report my concerns were unfounded. The Nova from Classic Performance Products was expertly dialed in and delivered a very satisfying driving experience.
The overall ride was not as jittery or nervous as some of the other cars, but the suspension was still a little bumpy. The rear springs seemed very stiff. The steering had a slight dead-spot on-center, and was very quick after that, which definitely took some getting used. The Nova uses a center take-off rack from an '89-94 Cavalier.
Compared to some of the high-dollar machines we drove on this day, the CPP Nova definitely ranks high on the bang-for-the-buck scale. The parts employed made for a very enjoyable street car.
What shocked me was how well they all worked in the timed portion of our event. Its 47.70-second time through the autocross was right in the neighborhood of the first few runs Mary made in the '10 Camaro, and it blew the new F-body away in the slalom. Can't argue with that, especially considering the Nova's econo-car roots.-Jim Campisano
CPP '67 Nova Specs Engine Type: Gen I 383 small- block Block: stock GM Fuel Delivery: Holley stock mechanical, Holley 4150 750 cfm carburetor
Drivetrain Transmission: TH350 automatic Torque Converter: Continental, 2,800 stall speed Rearend: 9-inch Currie rear, 3.70 gears, Detroit Locker posi-traction system
Chassis Suspension Steering: Custom made rack-and-pinion steering system Front Suspension: CPP Spindles: CPP Front Shocks: QA1 Front Sway bar: CPP Rear Suspension: CPP multi-leaf Rear Shocks: CE adjustable Rear Sway bar: CPP Front Brakes: CPP 13-inch Big Brake Kit Rear Brakes: Factory rear discs
Wheels & Tires Wheels: Vintage Wheel Works-17x7 front/17x8 rear Tires: Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Spec, 215/45R17 (f), 245/45R17 (rear)