In the long and storied history of project cars, few machines have drummed up as much fanfare as the Saturday Night Special Nova has. From mid-1997 through all of 1999, we featured a-dozen-and-a-half segments on the car being transformed from a basketcase into a state-of-the-art Pro Streeter. And you readers loved it. The little Deuce, which was built by Chris Alston's Chassisworks, is arguably responsible for kicking off a whole new cottage industry revolving around First-Generation Novas, and most certainly contributed to their skyrocketing increase in popularity. From its all-tube narrowed rear chassis to the revolutionary bolt-on NoFab front clip, this little Chevy II has a virtual cult following that continues to grow. (In fact, we published a handbook on Novas that included every stage of the initial buildup partly because our phones kept ringing off the hook from enthusiasts wanting to know how to get a segment that they had missed in SUPER CHEVY.)
Although the car officially left the Chassisworks complex in Sacramento, California, more than a year ago, it hasn't lost its momentum towards becoming one bad street/strip warrior. Original plans called for the installation of a blown 421-inch small-block, backed by a bulletproof Jerico four-speed gearbox, linked by a carbon fiber driveshaft to the Chassisworks Fab 9/Strange 12-bolt rearend. When the roller left Sacramento, it went into a sort of hiatus for a year while we decided what the next step should be. Through deadlines and other more basic projects, we mulled over the Nova's fate and decided that the next step, before assembling the entire car, should be to tie the front and rear frames together-essentially making it an all-tube chassis-and create a new firewall, transmission tunnel, and floor.
While the choice to do this was spirited by the desire to create a true all tube-frame Pro Streeter, the fact is that the way the car was built at Chassisworks was more than strong enough to take whatever power combo we threw at it. And, if it hadn't been for the fact that the 38-year-old's sheetmetal floor was dented and ripped in more than a few places (we figured it must have gone over a curb or something in a previous life), we surely would have just put the car together and had fun with it. But, as they say, few project cars ever get finished, they only keep getting better.
After a conversation with the welding experts at HTP America, we ordered one of their trick plasma cutters and their popular 160 MIG welder and set out to cut and piece together our Nova's inner structure. With the simplicity of the HTP equipment, we embarked on the procedure ourselves, firing up the plasma cutter and getting half of the firewall and driver's side floor peeled away (just to prove that we could do it ourselves) before loading the car onto our H&H trailer and heading east to Las Vegas to Hot Cars Cool Trucks, where the staff of fabricating experts is intent on doing the job.
Now, we don't want to give away all that is still in store for the Saturday Night Special. But for what's going to happen in the immediate future, we'll let you in on part of the plan: The goal is to have the awesome Chassisworks front and rear subframes tied together with round tubing and integrate them into the existing rollcage. From there, the wizards at Hot Cars Cool Trucks will move the engine mounts back a tad (lowering the center of gravity and the front-to-rear weight bias), fabricate an aluminum firewall and floor, and create a transmission mount. We'll also be installing a pair of oh-so-cool floor-mounted pedals and tubular seat mounts. To say that we're excited is an understatement. To say that we're looking forward to having the phones ringing with questions about the little boxy Chevy is, well.
But for the thousands of you who had been wondering where the Nova landed, we're happy to know that you'll be anxiously looking forward to next Saturday Night.