Subscribe to the Free

1966 Chevy Nova Roll Cage - Chop Shop

Project Getaway Has A Little Taken Off The Top And Gets Put Behind Bars.

Dan Ryder Jul 1, 2009
Sucp_0907_01_z 1966_chevy_nova_roll_cage Front_view 2/26

We last left Project Getaway fully framed and somewhat gutless. Our next step is to put Getaway behind bars--and for good reason. Not that we're incarcerating the '66 Nova owned by 2008 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Ed Krawiec, but we are beefing it up for the future assault it will lay to pavement across the USA.

Before moving ahead with the custom roll cage, Bob Carroll of Carroll's Rod and Racecraft in Spotswood, New Jersey, decided to add a subtle change, which is not his first and we're sure not his last. Bob chopped the front A-pillars 34-inch to lay the front of the roof down making the door line more parallel with the roofline, while this will go unnoticed by many, some hardcore Bow Tie fans will notice this subtle trick. It is little changes like these that give any hot rod that distinctive, one-off appearance.

Since the Deuce is not a dedicated race vehicle, but more of a multi-purpose weapon, Bob had to decide on how to route the roll cage within the carcass. In a race-only application the rear seat is generally of no concern, but since he needed to facilitate room for passengers, routing the rear portion of the cage was critical. Also considered during the fabrication was aesthetics. Bob tried at all costs to route the bars in tight to the A-pillars, roofline, and sail panels, to give Getaway a more stealth look from the outside.

After the minor top chop and the cage, Bob began tackling the firewall area. Since we sliced out the old firewall, a new unit had to be constructed from scratch. While we were a bit taken back by what seemed to be a rather involved task, Bob made it look easy by taking an 18-gauge sheet of steel and whipping it into shape. After all of the aforementioned fabrication, Bob will end up tying it all together for the ultimate in stiffness and strength.

Future installment ideas have us installing a custom 90-degree master cylinder assembly inside the car under the dashboard for a sleek, clean look. We are also figuring out what type of steering column to install, along with custom gauges and a brake/throttle pedal assembly.

Additional fabrication will have Bob marking out and installing a custom transmission tunnel and crossmember--all in effort to nestle the Turn Key Engine Supply, Kenne Bell-boosted LS 408 and the TCI-built 4L80E transmission into place. Once the drivetrain is secured where it belongs, the remainder of the floor will be constructed in conjunction with the rear wheeltubs and trunk area, which will hopefully bring us one step closer to splashing some color on this beast.

Now let's get building!

In order to slightly tilt the roof forward and make the window opening more parallel, Bob has to first mark the areas to be cut. It is best to find the straightest, most workable areas to cut so they meet as close as possible for re-welding.

Once a 3/4-inch section was cut from both A-pillars and a 1/8-inch pie cut was performed on the sail panel, the roof was stretched forward. While most will not recognize the difference, it is more than evident in the photos (left). Bob then fully aligned all points and tack-weld them into place. We will not be reinstalling the vent windows, as they are being replaced with a one-piece side glass. The rear windows will still fit like stock.

Upon our arrival to the shop, Bob had most of the bars pre-fabricated, notched and ready to be installed. Pictured here are the front strut tubes, which (since going to a full frame) were custom-made to attach to both the cowl and the dash bar. Also pictured is the door bar, which may be transformed into a swing-out in the near future for easy entry and exit. All tubing used is 4130 chrome-moly, 1 5/8-inch diameter and a 0.083-inch wall thickness. Because of the strength of chrome-moly, a thinner wall thickness is utilized, which additionally allows for a weight savings over using mild steel tubing.

You can see where Bob attached the rear strut tubes through the rear deck and tied them into the shock crossmember. This increases chassis strength, along with adding support to the Chris Alston's Chassisworks rear clip. The entire cage is tack welded into place and then TIG welded once the builder is satisfied with all points.

The halo portion of the cage was routed tight in toward the A-pillars and up into the roofline to allow for a clean look and maximum space within the cockpit. Also pictured, is the section of the dash that needed to be temporarily removed in order to route the front down bars. This section will eventually be welded, ground smooth and then finished with a small amount of body filler during the paint process. Newer vehicles allow for dashboard removal, however, the deuce's dash is part of the shell.

After tacking in the 10-point custom cage, Bob began to assault the firewall area by removing the pinch-weld from around the upper portion of the cowl, which is a good start to providing a smooth foundation for the firewall to be properly mated. One issue encountered was interference between the current contour of the firewall in relation to our Intro Wheels/Nitto Tire rolling stock and steering radius. Do not fret; we have to remove that portion of the firewall anyway.

To accurately mark where the cut needs to be made in order to square the cowl/firewall area, Bob whipped out this neat little Laser Trac level from Craftsman (model number 320.48251). The level contains a built in bubble for accurate mounting and the added convenience of a magnetic base. Before any cuts were made the laser line was double checked with both a plum bob and a standard bubble-type level.

A word to the wise: Double check within the kick panel area for old leaves and/or any additional flammable debris--it will catch fire as pictured. Once the flames were put out, the front wheel was reinstalled to illustrate the new-found room required to properly steer the Nova. This will additionally allow for a flatter foundation for the firewall to be mated with.

Before the to-be-constructed firewall is fabricated, Bob cut two pieces of sheet metal and drilled 1 5/8-inch holes in them. These were slipped over the front strut tubes and tacked in place to facilitate the tubes exact location for future reference.

The firewall is being constructed via a cold rolled (stronger) sheet of 18-gauge steel. Bob began by cutting it down to a 70x28-inch sheet, which left a few inches of overhang all the way around. Next a template was made in order to discover the location and amount of bend that needed to be made to contour the firewall to the frame. In the end, we were left with a 35-degree bend, made via a sheetmetal brake. Notches needed to be cut into the lower portion of the firewall to fit perfectly around the frame rails.

In order to temporarily fasten the firewall to the cowl area, Cleco fasteners were used. Clecos come most commonly in either 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch sizes (hole size). Bob utilized the 1/8-inch units by drilling a 1/8-inch hole in the locations of choice. Also pictured is the Cleco pliers needed to compress the Cleco for proper installation and removal.

Finally, Bob drilled 1 5/8-inch holes into the firewall via the sheetmetal used to mark where the front strut tubes need to reside. Once both holes were drilled, Bob marked and trimmed the edges via a beverly shear, also pictured. Stay tuned to our next installment as we polish off the firewall and dive into construction of the transmission tunnel, floorboards, and transmission crossmember.


Turn Key Powertrain
Oceanside, CA 92056
TCI Transmissions
Ashland, MS 38603
Chris Alston's Chassisworks
Sacramento, CA 95828
Carroll's Rod And Racecraft
Spotswood, NJ 08884



Connect With Us

Get Latest News and Articles. Newsletter Sign Up

sponsored links

subscribe to the magazine

get digital get print