Growing up is a trap. Everyone says you have to get responsible, give up the toys, and buy a newer, more modern car. Forget that noise. We say hang onto the steel that you love and just make steps to bring it into the 21st century.
John Bianchi was in exactly that situation. He's a working family man, but sitting in a reserved spot outside his office is this beloved '67 Nova. Bianchi could easily switch to a new car if he really wanted to, but his dream is to keep the Nova as his daily driver and the family's second car. His kids both love riding in it, so they're on his side, too.
So what's the big deal? Families relied on these cars for many years back when they were new, right? The car was in good shape when Bianchi bought back the early '90s, and he's kept it looking sharp. It's perfectly adequate for a guy with time to tinker, but that's part of the problem right there: Bianchi doesn't have the time to constantly adjust things.
Carbs make fantastic power and are brutally simple, but they have drawbacks, especially if you don't really have the time, money, or desire to fiddle with them regularly. Specifically, a carb can only be tuned correctly for a specific set of parameters. As the weather or seasons swing, the air mass can easily alter the tune to the point of causing it to lose power and drop idle quality, and drop mileage. Yes, you can retune, but this is becoming a lost art. Many of today's newer enthusiasts have never owned a carbureted car before and have no idea how to change jets, squirters, or do any of the simple adjustments a carb needs. Sad, but true.
To make Bianchi's dream a reality, the Nova needed to become less demanding. His kids and his work come first, so the Nova needs to crank quickly and easily no matter what the weather, and deliver livable mileage, all without regular tuning.
The short and easy answer to all of those old car ills is to step up to a modern electronic fuel-injection system that will handle all of the tuning and calibrating on its own. There are now several good options on the market, but Bianchi chose FAST's new EZ-EFI 2.0 conversion. It's really all in the name: easy-to-EFI.
The EZ-EFI 2.0 conversion is quite simple, but the real beauty is how advanced it is without being overwhelming. FAST has managed to create an evolved self-learning system that is very user friendly and easy to understand for hot rodders of any level. With eight injectors on tap, it can handle engines up to 1,200 hp, but it's also designed to be everyday reliable on mild engines that rarely race. Follow along as we help a hot rodder keep true to his passion while making sure it doesn't get in the way of his priorities.
01. Here’s our subject: a daily driven ’67 Nova with mild Edelbrock heads on a 0.060-over 350. It’s a clean car, but not so nice that you’re afraid to take it places. Exactly what’s needed for a daily driver.
02. The FAST EZ-EFI 2.0 system is extremely versatile and can support up to 1,200 hp. Besides a new look to the throttle body, the 2.0 gets an advanced color touchscreen hand-held controller, which doubles as a sensor dash.
03. The Nova’s small-block features Edelbrock Performer RPM heads and intake. The distributor is a rebuilt stocker with a PerTronix electronic conversion, and the headers are Doug’s Tri-Y backed by a Pypes full exhaust kit with X-pipe. The compression is around 10:1 and the Lunati cam is ground with 0.489/0.507-inch lift and 230/235-degree duration at 0.050 on a 110 LSA.
04. Feeding the small-block was a fairly new Holley HP650 double-pumper. These are fantastic carbs, and it’s well sized well for this application.
05. Typically, we do a full tune-up on a car before dynoing, but this time we left the Nova in as-driven condition to prove a point. The car was running well and recently had the ignition upgraded and the timing checked. The Holley had been tuned a few months back. We wanted to know: What was being left on the table?
06. To make the installation simple, the EZ-EFI 2.0 throttle body has the inlet air temperature sensor (IAT), throttle position sensor (TPS), idle air control motor (IAC), and manifold absolute pressure sensor (MAP) built in. It’s also dimensionally similar to a standard 4150-style carb (the bolt pattern is the same and the throttle linkage is identical).
07. Once the throttle body is bolted on, the first big decision to make is whether to run it as a return-style system or use the Fuel Pulse Damper that allows a returnless-style fuel system. For simplicity sake, we opted to do returnless, but we can always change it later. Either the front or rear port can be used for the inlet.
08. Here’s the schematic of how either the return or returnless system will be plumbed. If returnless is chosen, ignore the lower half that depicts the external regulator and vacuum port, and plumb the top half as illustrated.
09. FAST supplies pretty much everything you need in the kit, including EFI-rated fuel hose, and the kit’s -6 AN push-lock fittings make the plumbing easy and clean looking. High quality clamps to lock them down are also included.
10. Every part of the original fuel system will need to be removed, including the mechanical pump and any filtration system since it will not be able to handle the pressure or flow of the EFI pump. The kit does not include a fuel pump block-off plate, so grab one in advance.
11. Here’s our new source of filtration: a reusable billet inline FAST filter. This should be securely connected to the chassis with a bracket of some sort. We fabbed this one out of scrap aluminum.
12. This Y-block is a critical part of the fuel system since it provides the location for the fuel pressure sensor. It serves double duty on our returnless system since it is also used to pulse the fuel pump and maintain optimum pressure.
13. An inline pump kit is an option, but the in-tank version is highly recommended by FAST for multiple reasons including faster priming and quieter operation. We went with a stock-style EFI retrofit tank from Tanks Inc. Externally it appears stock, but features internal baffling and bolt-in ease for the pump and sending unit. Be sure to only use the included FAST pump if opting for returnless, as it is designed for pulsing.
14. Both the fuel pump hanger assembly and the fuel sending unit from Tanks Inc. are universal pieces that must be modified to fit the application. A diagram is included to determine the fuel sending unit hanger length and the length of the float arm depending upon tank depth.
15. With both assemblies bolted into place, the tank is sealed and ready to wire. In this case, the return inlet is plugged; the center is a vent. The fuel sending unit is a factory style 90-ohm GM unit, so it can be spliced to the original wires. The pump requires a chassis ground and 12V supplied by a lead from the EZ-EFI 2.0 ECU.
16. There are a couple of options for the ignition as EZ-EFI can be used as a fuel-only controller, or fuel control with ignition. A stock style distributor or HEI can be used with a special RPM Module interface, but the best solution is the plug-and-play FAST Dual-Sync distributor for perfect timing control.
17. The FAST Dual-Sync distributor is designed as a locked-out unit. It has no weights or springs or vacuum canisters. Once it is set in place, it provides a crank signal that does not move with engine speed or load, exactly what the EZ-EFI needs. The rotor is pre-phased from the factory at 30 degrees BTDC.
18. The most intimidating part of any EFI swap is the wiring. The good news is that EZ-EFI 2.0 has very few required connections. They’re also very clearly labeled and pre-terminated with plugs.
19. The wiring is mostly plugging things together with only a handful of actually splices. That pink wire is one of the few and needs to be tapped into a switched 12V source. We used the switched 12V in the ignition switch, which is also pink.
20. Bianchi’s ’67 Nova is fairly basic, so we eliminated two configurable wires, two fan controllers, and the crank trigger to name a few. Make sure to save any cut wires in case the combination changes down the road.
21. A firewall grommet is included if you want to mount the EZ-EFI 2.0 ECU inside the car, but since it is sealed and approved for underhood mounting, we opted to skip cutting the firewall.
22. If you’re using the Dual-Sync distributor, it will simply plug into the ECU wiring harness. The 12V power wire is also on the same loom and will clip together with the supplied terminal.
23. Even without the cooling fan option, the EZ-EFI 2.0 software needs to be able to monitor engine temperature, so a location for the sensor must be provided. Almost all aftermarket intakes (and most factory ones) will have a provision for this near the water neck.
24. Yes, V-8s with headers are a tight fit in early Novas, so care must be taken with routing wires that need to go toward the rear of the car. Everything was carefully grouped and tied back.
25. This is the only fab work required for this conversion: a bung for the O2 sensor must be welded into the exhaust. This should be at least 20 inches from the cylinder head to prevent overheating. It should be mounted at least 10 degrees above horizontal (wire side up, sensor tip down) to prevent moisture from collecting in it.
26. There are a couple of options for setting up the ignition system, but the use of a high-output capacitive discharge (CD) ignition is recommended. We ran an MSD 6AL for our source.
27. Bianchi’s Nova had the battery in the trunk, so we extended the power wires for the EZ-EFI. Both the positive and negative leads must be connected directly to the battery; no splicing or chassis ground here.
28. We double checked all the connections and turned the key. The EZ-EFI 2.0 has multiple interface options, including this touchscreen that mounts inside the car. The Setup Wizard is the tutorial that will guide you through start-up and allows the ECU to tune itself as you drive.
29. All critical parameters come pre-loaded, including ignition timing. Everything is manually adjustable if your combination requires something outside the norm.
30. Outside of the wizard, the advanced control menu allows a knowledgeable tuner to tweak deep into the engine control parameters. Air/fuel ratio targets, for example, can be left in default range or adjusted to preference.
31. The EZ-EFI 2.0 capabilities are awesome, but we’re positive FAST will sell a lot of these on looks. Paired with the valve cover and air cleaner package, the EZ-EFI 2.0 is one of the slickest looking options out there.
32. We used HK Motorsports’ dyno as a rolling road to warm the engine up (it must be 140-plus degrees for learning to occur). Just go through the gears and vary rpm and load so that the ECU can learn what the engine wants. Once the system seemed happy to us, it was time to teach it all about wide-open throttle!
33. The EZ-EFI 2.0 was up nearly across the board with peak gains of 21 hp and 20 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.
|On The Dyno|