When we left off in the last episode (April '11), we installed the Real Fine 509 Dart Rat motor you saw come together and dyno-tested in our December '09 issue. It made a robust 669 hp at 6,000 and 623 lb-ft torque at 4,500 rpm on pump gas--perfect to slap into our unsuspecting Nova.
As a recap, back in the February '11 issue we bolted-in a Total Cost Involved (TCI) tubular front clip. Now the Nova drives like a dream with modern-day steering, braking, and roadholding abilities. To quickly get the Dart 509 engine up and running, we hooked it up to the wimpy drivetrain (TH350 trans, stock driveshaft, and stock 10-bolt rear) included with the purchase of the Nova.
On our first shakedown drive we felt the Turbo 350 slipping--obviously the trans was toast with fresh ATF turning brown. The first application of 509 Dart big-block power sent it to Transmission Heaven. A moment of silence, please ...
In this episode we'll swap in a Performance Automatic Turbo 400 transmission ("Trans-Former," June '10), a Currie Enterprises F9 9-inch rear axle ("Burly Backend," October '10) and a Driveshaft Shop 3.5-inch aluminum driveshaft. Surely this team of tough drivetrain components will easily handle all the power the 509 Dart motor can dish out.
In the next action-packed episode we'll baseline the Nova at the strip. For now, check out our adventures of being a grunt--this entire installment was shot in an unheated garage during the brutal winter of 2010-'11. Welcome to the glamorous world of automotive journalism!