It's been about two years now, and our lethargic grandma six-banger Nova has been almost completely transformed into a heavyweight street fighter. Yes, it's still ugly, but we made quick work of our blue beauty, swapping out the less-than-impressive engine and transmission, lest we pop the hood and suffer being chastised by fellow enthusiasts. Originally, our intentions were for straight-line performance, not necessarily all-out handling. Out came the tractor engine and Powerglide. In its place went a slightly used small-block along with some boost complements: Weiand's 142 supercharger and a used Turbo 350 automatic transmission.
After the powertrain was situated we moved on to creating a real driver's car-one with more roadworthy characteristics-turning to Classic Performance Products of Placentia, California, who are well versed with Novas and their ability to blaze through corners. To begin, CPP swapped in its large 11/8-inch-diameter front sway bar and 7/8-inch-diameter rear bar. The shocks were replaced with Bilstein units from CPP. Later, the manual front drums were swapped in favor of their power disc brake assemblies, including forged 2-inch drop spindles loaded with 11-inch disc brakes and a power brake booster. The rear was restored with a rebuild drum package and lowering rear leaf kit.
Our initial testing revealed a nice surprise. The Nova remained somewhat flat through the slalom and manageable during repeated 60-0 braking. Still, performance was marginal at best-definitely room for improvement. For this install, we've landed all new upper and lower tubular control arms, a big-brake kit for the front and rear, and all new adjustable QA1 coilovers for the front and shocks out back-all from CPP.
At CPP's headquarters, Craig Chaffers shredded into the underguts of the front suspension to create a sled with more tunability and serious braking power. Don't worry, we'll have the full test numbers, including slalom, skidpad, and braking in a future issue. In the meantime we've made plans to attend a majority of the Goodguys autocross events on the West Coast. Follow along as we show how it was done and what makes CPP's components a cut above the rest.
Supplying the suspension with strength was left to CPP's upper and lower tubular A-arms; the added rigidity means less flex, which translates into a much nimbler vehicle that's easy to predict and control. The lower control arms feature a helical stamped coil mount with an integral shock mount. The upper control arms are preassembled on new billet chromoly 4130 cross-shafts and pivot sleeves. CPP has also created a safety feature in the interlocking shaft and sleeve design, which prevents the bolts from working loose, even under severe stress created by hard cornering. The arms also feature exclusive pivot bushings with a patented self-lubricating plastic that will not squeak or break, and will work in temperatures of over 400 degrees.
QA1 Coilover Assembly
The key to any all-purpose street-burner like our Nova project is adjustability. Coilovers allow us to fine-tune the suspension in a moment's notice; as track conditions change and as the Nova evolves with different components, it will enable us to make quick adjustments to things like ride height and shock valving accordingly. CPP's QA1 kit (PN GMP13) includes a set of conical springs designed so that the lower end sits on the coilover shock and the upper end sits in the original spring bucket of the frame. This allows for the use of a longer and lighter spring for more stored energy, offering increased weight transfer. Greater durability is also achieved by locating the spring pressure in the frame and not on a single stud. The threaded aluminum body allows ride height adjustment and boasts an easy bolt-in installation. The system includes Promo Star coilover shocks, specially designed conical springs, and all mounting hardware.