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TCI's 1966 Chevy Nova - Deuce Is Wild

TCI '66 Nova

Patrick Hill Apr 1, 2011
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It's hard to believe now that a classic Nova could be had for a mere $1,200. Ed Martinez bought his '66 back in '87 as a high school car for his son. Clean and straight with green paint and a reliable six banger under the hood, after some sprucing up Ed's son drove the car for a few months, then decided the Deuce wasn't for him and gave it back. After a V-8 conversion and some more mild mods, Ed had the car built to his liking for a while, until he discovered all the suspension upgrades he could make thanks to Total Cost Involved. After bolting on all the new TCI goodies, the Nova was ready for some corner carving action.

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Unfortunately, due to charging issues and distributor troubles, the '66 became the first car in the three-year history of our challenge to not complete all four aspects of testing. We have slalom and skidpad times, but the distributor gave out just as the first autocross run was completed and there was no on-road evaluation.

Driver's Impression - On the Autocross Course
After the TCI Camaro's stellar performance in the '09 event, I would have gladly driven a shopping cart if it was equipped with the same underpinnings. As it turned out, the suspension was the only really good thing that left me warm and fuzzy for this particular car.

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Bear in mind, I only got one autocross run as the distributor gear chose to self-destruct midway through my second run. So, my one single time didn't wow a soul. With no notes, I remember the Nova got underway quickly and stayed put throughout the initial four-cone slalom. There was a bit of traction loss and body lean turning left towards the first crossover, but once straight and pointed towards the second, the car solidly came back underneath me. I stretched the power band up until the turnaround and stood on the Wilwood binders which thankfully did their job. The Nova got turned around and leapt out of the corner, traction be damned. Pretty cool, methinks, and I was really starting to like this car more and more. The sweepers kept me attentive and like the Camaro a year ago, I could position this car wherever I wanted. Slamming the Nova home to the finish was fun and I was thinking that with four more runs, a very quick time was in the bag.

Now for the bad ... I didn't get those four runs as things turned ugly in a hurry. At the far end of the course furthest from life in general, the Nova's ignition lost its sense of timing. It announced its intention by coughing once and then letting out a single howl of protest, the loudest "bang" you've ever heard. Even a half-mile away, people cringed anticipating a V-8 mass of mush. I turned the ignition off, coasted the turnaround, and almost made it back. The TCI guys offered some manpower and I finished the course with some understeer, aka "push," and yes, there is pun intended.-Mary Pozzi

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TCI '66 Nova

Type: 383 Gen I small-block
Block: Stock iron
Heads: Edelbrock RPM

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Transmission: TH350
Torque Converter: B&M 3,000 stall
Rear End: Currie 9-inch w/ 3.73 gears

Chassis Suspension
Chassis: TCI

Suspension: TCI tubular upper and lower control arms
Steering: Rack-and-pinion
Springs: TCI 500-lb beehive
Spindles: TCI 2-inch drop
Shocks: TCI single adjustable
Sway Bar: TCI
Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch

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Suspension: TCI four-link
Springs: TCI 250-lb linear rate
Shocks: TCI single adjustable
Sway Bar: TCI
Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: American Racing 17-inch
Tires: Nitto NT05, 255/40ZR17 - front, 275/40ZR17 - rear

Cost Of Chassis/Suspension: $5,289.00 (includes Wilwood brakes)

Total = 3,053 lbs
LF = 783 lbs RF = 792 lbs
LR = 753 lbs RR = 724 lbs
Front/Rear Balance Percentage
F = 51.6% R = 48.4%


'66 Nova '10 Camaro SS
Skidpad: .89g .91g
Slalom: 48.50 mph 47.70 mph
Autocross: 58.80 sec. 53.28 sec.



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