In-Nova-Tion

Body and paint for the ATI Super Street Nova

Mike Petralia Mar 21, 2005 0 Comment(s)

Building a competitive race car that can also see limited street duty takes some serious time and money. There's also a lot of planning involved, and securing the help of many friends, family, and sponsors can be a real asset. When ATI Superchargers first approached us with its idea to build a NMCA Super Street Nova showcasing the new F-series blower lineup, we jumped right in. In our last two installments, we showed you how ATI built a 1,200-plus-hp Rat motor for it and how the chassis and drivetrain was modified to handle all the new power. This month we'll show you how ATI transformed a typical-for-its-age '69 Nova, into a 7-second, back-half race car that can hold its own on the boulevard and the show circuit.

BODY SHAPING
It was summer 2000, and ATI had speed and beauty on its mind. They found the Nova they were looking for in Southern California. It was pretty solid to start with, so no extensive sheetmetal repair was necessary. It came originally equipped with a two-barrel 307 and a column-shift three-speed manual, both of which were destined for the parts pile in ATI's shop. After the crew at ATI first attacked the car with a pressure washer in their parking lot, they stripped it down and trucked the parts over to Mooney's Auto Body in Grandview, Missouri, (816/763-9398), where bodyman Kelly Lamming performed the Super Street transformation. Since racing was the goal for this Nova and racing means lightweight, the folks at Harwood Industries stepped in to provide a set of fiberglass bumpers and the 4-inch cowl-induction hood, which was modified by Lamming to accommodate the blower-to-carburetor ducting.

In order to fit the large M/T racing rubber out back, Mooney's had to stretch the rear quarters approximately 3-inches forward by grafting in some replacement and handmade sheetmetal pieces. Aside from the rear wheel openings and the bulbous hood, ATI chose to keep the body otherwise stock and purchased a lot of repro hardware and exterior trim from Chevy 2 Only and Classic Industries to that effect. When Lamming and crew went into Mooney's paint booth to finish the job, they applied and great-looking coat of PPG Hot Licks Orange, provided by Auto Paint Stop in Independence, Missouri (816/478-6677).

PERFORMANCE EQUAL TO ITS LOOKS
At the recent Denver Super Chevy Show ATI showed its Nova to the public for the first time. The response was outstanding with curious onlookers crowding to get a look at the car and watch it make some check out passes at the strip. Next month, we'll wrap up the Nova plus take a closer look deep inside the finished car to show you all the neat details.

4

It was summer 2000 when ATI first took possession of its new (to them anyway) '69 Nova. Could you see the Super Street potential in this old car as they did?

Cars get dirty when they travel halfway across the country after living a useful 30-year life. So ATI gave the Nova a serious bath in their driveway before moving it inside where the ATI crew could start tearing it apart.

The rust on the floor is evidence of a car that spent lots of time outside with leaky weather stripping. The entire floor section was replaced with new replacement panels at Mooney's Auto Body.

The front subframe was removed from the car and thoroughly cleaned and stripped for powdercoating before the car was taken in for bodywork.

Although the Nova was straight and didn't need exterior replacement panels, light is might, and Harwood Industries supplied some fiberglass bumpers and the cowl hood. Any part that could be unbolted from the body was removed so it could be worked on independently.

To stretch the rear wheel openings for tire clearance, Mooney's Auto Body used replacement panels and fabricated some of their own sheetmetal to fill the gaps.

After trimming the replacement panels to better fit the new wheel opening (see outlines of original panel size), the new pieces were stitch-welded in place.

The lower portion of the front wheel opening had to be cut and rewelded farther forward to fit. This is also a good indication of how far the wheelwell was stretched.

Even though the car had already been completely primered, the new wheel openings were sanded clean as the bodywork progressed towards its final stages.

This shot inside the wheelwell clearly shows the welding and newly fabricated panels in the center.

Another coat of primer and some final sanding, then the back half is reassembled to check for tire clearance.

Since tires are widest in their middles, the car was put on a lift to make sure the tires would clear with the suspension at full drop.

This stealthy badge is hardly an indicator of the power that lies beneath the hood. Although the race engine truly is only 427 cid, it has the power of an engine twice that size.

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