1969 Chevy Nova Accel DFI Conversion - 21st Century Digital Toy

A 383 small-block gets DFI-ified

Step By Step

The 1200-cfm Pro-Ram system (part No. 77143, $3100) is based off of a high-flow, single-plane intake manifold. The nice aspect of the Pro-Ram is that it comes ready to rock, with 36-pound injectors, fuel rails, billet throttle body, wiring harness and ECU, and a high-flow fuel pump. As you can see, the idle air, intake air, coolant temp, and throttle position sensors are already installed. The TransGo shift kit (part No. 4L60EPSK) retails for just $171 and is money well spent as it offers enhancements in both performance and longevity.

Complementing this badassed injection setup is a killer distributor. For the ultimate control in EFI, you want sequential injection--and Accel has created the Dual Sync for just that purpose. DFI's Dual Sync distributors generate a crank signal as well as a cam signal--the latter is needed for sequential fueling. A smoother idle, better fuel economy, and decreased injector deposits are only a few of the many benefits of sequential injection.

he Nova will be getting an entire ignition overhaul, including a Mallory HyFire 6A box (part No. 6852M, $160), the DFI Dual-Sync distributor for small-cap V-8s (part No. 77100, $302), the Dual-Sync harness (part No. 77101, $40), a Mallory Promaster coil (part No. 30440, $55), some mondo 10.8mm Accel Race Wires (part No. 10841, $100), and some wire separators (part No. 170023, $15).

Just like anything else in life, it's easy to take EFI for granted when you live with it every day. GMHTP is EFI only--and with my knowledge of carburetors, it's a damn good thing, too. Personally, I'm not comfortable turning screws on a carb--I'm at ease playing with tuning on a laptop or calibrating sensors. But there are days when I let EFI get me down, too: searching for false knock that pulls WOT timing is a real pain in the ass, and tracing a short in a wire harness can very easily take days. It almost makes me yearn for those simple engine bays from the '50s and '60s, where two vacuum lines and five wires are the extent of the engine's complexity...almost.

Because anyone who gets caught up in the frustrations of modern-day fuel injection should spent a day with a buddy's carbureted car. There is no luxury of an electronic Engine Control Unit; the driver is the ECU. All of those smooth cold-starts and stumble-free part-throttle experiences are literally a thing of the past. And unless your buddy is a tuning wizard, the way the car runs on one day can be drastically different from the next. Live in the now, people: there's a reason why carbs have been blissfully absent from factory vehicles since 1986.

Jason Kugler's 1969 Nova is a prime example of the timeless styling/aging technology conundrum. Way-back Rallys and sexy, curved body lines make it a real looker, and Kugler has even upgraded to a crate 383 and a Dynotech Performance-built TH200-4R overdrive tranny. Trouble is, the crate mill's 750-cfm carb never was right, and several attempted tunes later, a similarly mistuned 600-cfm unit sat atop the intake. This is Kugler's only vehicle, so the constant good idle/bad performance or vise-versa was starting to get a little old on the way to work. Additionally, he's working toward a pro touring road-trip ride, and with the increasing cost of petrol, those 7-mpg performances just weren't going to cut it. But above all, nothing is as much of a letdown as having a cool old musclecar that just isn't very fast. It was time for a drastic change in the way that the 383 did business: there are several ways to remedy this, but hands-down, the easiest would be a DFI conversion from Accel.

DFI has three distinct options for enthusiasts looking to convert their carbed rides over to EFI: the big-torque, TPI-esque Street-Ram, the better breathing, hybrid Super-Ram, and the high flowing Pro-Ram. After consideration of the 224 duration-cammed, Dart-headed 383, the folks at DFI recommended the 1,200-cfm Pro-Ram for its ease of packaging and its ability to flow lots of air from 2000 to 6500 rpm--just what the gasping 383 needs. DFI Pro-Ram buyers also have the choice of a smaller 750-cfm unit utilizing 30-pound injectors, but the bigger Pro-Ram's 36 pound-per-hour injectors will offer enough flow at 80 percent duty cycle to reach 400 ponies at the wheels quite easily--and still leave room for more.

Accel/DFI recommends that the Pro-Ram fuel injection system be installed at one of its nearly 200 Engine Management Installation Centers (EMIC). Technicians who attend Accel's EMIC training learn about the installation and tuning of DFI products, and the tech put in charge of our swap was none other than the very talented Bill Hahn of Hahn Racecraft. For those of you unfamiliar with Bill, he's a turbo and aftermarket ECU guru who builds custom turbo kits and tunes everything from Ecotecs to Ford 5.0s, which sprout from all corners of his Yorkville, Illinois shop. So the Pro-Ram, along with a boatload of Accel and Mallory ignition components and fuel system pieces from Summit Racing, were shipped out to Hahn Racecraft. EMIC Bill Hahn recently picked up an elevated DynoJet with wide-band O2 capability for the ultimate in tuning, so we baselined the carbed 383 before getting to work.

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