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1970 Chevrolet Nova - Back In Black

This Nova embodies the Northeast’s hardcore street machine ethic

Jim Campisano Nov 8, 2011
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We do a lot of traveling in order to put out Super Chevy magazine. Our frequent-flier accounts are bursting with miles, we’re on a first-name basis with the rental car people, and over the course of 12 months we visit more zip codes, time zones, and area codes than we care to think about.

Sucp 1112 01 O 1970 Chevrolet Nova Front 2/8

Not that we mind. To be honest, it’s one of the best parts of the whole gig. Imagine, all your expenses are paid to go to the coolest cars shows and races in North America—and then there’s the whole direct deposit thing every two weeks. It’s almost like a bonus. One of the really interesting parts of this job is seeing how people in different geographic regions modify their cars. Oh, there are definite trends and similarities, but the greatest differences are the opposite coasts.

In California, you see racecars that can easily be mistaken for show vehicles. In the Northeast, it’s the other way around. The show cars look like they took a wrong turn at the pit lanes. On the West Coast, Pro Street is pretty much dead and everything is geared around the g-machine/pro touring look.

Not in the NHRA’s “Land of NED,” alias Division 1 or the North East Division. There, many a build is still inspired by Grumpy’s Pro Stock cars. It’s never a shock to go to a Super Chevy Show in this area and be bombarded by Pro Street or street/strip terrors. The drag or big & litle tire look still reigns supreme, and we offer Anthony Sgourdas’ 1970 Nova as proof. Four-inch Harwood cowl hood? Check. Hoosier DOT 28x10-inch wide tires out back and skinnies up front? Yup. A spool with 3.73 gears? Uh-huh. An 800-horse blown stroker small-block that runs on pump gas? Do you even have to ask?

Sucp 1112 02 O 1970 Chevrolet Nova Driver Side Rear Quarter 3/8

From its black paint and vinyl top to its aggressive stance, the X-body embodies the bad-to-the-bone street machines that run rampant in the area around Sgourdas’ north Jersey abode. He left the fiberglass hood unpainted, both for effect and because “no paint equals less weight.” So there.

The owner has had multiple cool Chevys over the years, including a 10-second ’67 shoebox Nova, but he lost that car in a divorce. Hey, he was always more taken by the ’68-72 models anyway. Four years ago, he was at the Super Chevy Show at Maple Grove Raceway and stopped by the ProCharger display. When Anthony saw its kit for carbureted small-blocks, it was like he was hit by a bolt of lightning. He decided then and there that this was the way to go.

The engine is a ProCharged/carbureted 406 that actually came cross-country, from Speedomotive in West Covina, California. The Dart SHP block was bored 0.030 over, and the stroke is 3.750 inches. The rotating assembly was balanced and blueprinted and the compression checks in at a boost-friendly 9.5:1. The cam is a Comp solid roller with 0.613-inch lift and 255/262 duration at 0.050. The heads are also from Dart, 230cc aluminum casts with 72cc chambers. A Proform Hurricane intake holds a 750-cfm CSU-prepped 4150 blow-through carburetor.

The supercharger head unit is a D1SC that makes 12.5 psi of boost. Exhaust is 1-7/8-inch Hooker headers blasting into with a 3.5-inch Torque Tech X-pipe exhaust with two-chamber Flowmasters. There are no tailpipes. Transmission duties are handled by an ATI Turbo 350 with a reverse manual valve body and an ATI 4,000-stall ATI converter.

The result is a Nova that’s run a 10.55 at 128 mph so far (Super Chevy Maple Grove, 2011), and Anthony is convinced there’s about 80 more horsepower to come as he improves the tuneup. He’s convinced there are 9-second pump-gas elapsed times to be had.

Sucp 1112 04 O 1970 Chevrolet Nova 7/8

When asked to put the reader in the driver seat, Anthony described it thusly: “I gotta tell you, the minute you start it up you hear the blower whistling. Then you accelerate and then you hear the blow-off valve. There’s no other sound like it. You can hear me coming from three or four blocks away, according to my friends.”

When asked if he’d have done anything differently, he said he “would have gone with fuel injection instead of a blow-through carb, but there are no good tuners in my area and the tune is everything with this motor.”

The big plus, though, is carburetors are something he’s familiar with, so he can work on it himself. He put the whole car together in his unheated one-car garage, no small feat given the lousy winters New Jersey’s had the last two years.

Besides racing the X-body, Anthony’s favorite activity is taking his daughter to cruise nights and car shows in it. He loved watching her pick up a trophy at a recent show and hopes to impart his love of classic Chevys to her (just in case it’s not really genetic).

Sucp 1112 07 O 1970 Chevrolet Nova 8/8

Then there are the days when he drives it to his job as an assistant service manager at a Hyundai dealership. The look on co-workers faces is something that probably has to be seen to be believed when this monster rattles the showroom windows.

Future plans include dialing in the tune, running 9s and (we can’t believe it) painting the car—even the hood—in 2011 Camaro Dark Blue. He says he’s keeping the vinyl top.



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