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Plumbing and Fluid Dynamics - Project Hardtop Hellion

The fuel, coolant, and oiling systems of the Hardtop Hellion, our 1963 Chevrolet Nova project car.

Jake Amatisto Jun 23, 2014
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From self-learning EFI systems to wireless data loggers, the technology in our hot rodding industry is definitely on the incline. Even the lifebloods of our street machines are becoming more advanced. Companies like AFCO, Flex-a-lite, COMP Cams, Joe Gibbs’ Driven, and TCI Auto have come up with additives and oils that are designed with high performance in mind. Cooling system additives make our aluminum parts live longer, pump-gas additives make our carburetors run cleaner and leak-free, and highly durable engine and transmission fluids make our hot rods run better and longer. With our Nova back from O.C. Muffler Man, we began the plumbing process, which included running the fuel and oil lines to a remote transmission cooler and adding the precious fluids that will bring our monster to life.

Plumbing the car for fuel and transmission hoses is one of our favorite steps in a build because you have the opportunity to lay everything out nice and tidy. We decided to run steel braided lines under the car due to its durability and black braided hose under the hood to connect to the carb and fuel pressure regulator. We contacted the fuel system experts at Aeromotive for their tried-and-true A1000 fuel pump, return-style pressure regulator, fuel lines, and all the hose ends and fittings (in black) needed to feed our street demon. For the transmission cooler, we contacted Derale for one of their latest stacked, dual-fan oil coolers. Our engine cooling system consists of a Moroso electric water pump and a Flex-a-lite universal radiator/fan combo.

Since the Hellion is a street car, it’ll be sipping on California’s 91-octane pump swill. However, we do plan on running 100-octane at the track. The engine was tuned at Westech Performance Group to make over 500 horsepower on 91, but we suspect the engine will like the higher octane gas due to its 10.65:1 compression. Joe Gibbs’ Driven Carb Defender is something we just learned about and will be running in the Nova’s fuel system as well. Since the ethanol-heavy gasoline in the pumps these days are only tested on fuel injected engines, carburetors are left in the dark and these new fuels can wreak havoc on the carb’s seals over time. Carb Defender prevents that without affecting the octane rating.

Companies such as Speedway Motors and Summit Racing were also instrumental in getting these systems operational. Summit offers an affordable 20-gallon fuel cell and brackets, while Speedway was a great source for custom radiator hoses.

Over the following pages we’ll show off some of the products we used to route our Nova’s ever-important fluids to the necessary areas. After a few more build-up articles where we highlight some of the other aspects of our car, you can expect us to put this Chevy II combination to the test at the dragstrip. Stay tuned.

Underside Prep

Before we ran our fuel and transmission lines, we spent some time cleaning and degreasing the underside of the car. While being a tremendously filthy job, it’s well worth it once it’s all clean. To finish up, we shot the undercarriage with Eastwood’s Chassis Black paint.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Degreasing 2/20
1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Chassis Black Paint 3/20
1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Aeromotive A1000 Pump 4/20

Aeromotive’s A1000 pump has been used on street machines for a long time and can feed up to 1,300 horsepower, naturally aspirated. Other features include ORB-10 outlets, anodized red case, and internals that are designed for daily drivers, yet can feed the most radical engines.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Fuel Cell 5/20

Summit Racing offers quite a few aluminum fuel cells, including the 20-gallon version we ordered (PN SUM-291220D). It comes sumped with two AN-8 male fittings, a return, and a place for the vent.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion An 10 Fitting 6/20

Aeromotive required us to switch to a larger AN-10 fitting to feed the pump. This way it will be fed with an ample amount of fuel at all times. To convert the cell we removed the foam, drilled the hole (making sure to vacuum out the debris) and installed an AN-10 bulkhead fitting.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion An 8 7/20

Once the AN-10 outlet was in place, we attached the A1000 pump to the trunk floor. We were able to run the AN-10 size to the pump and about halfway up the bottom of the car before we converted down to AN-8. The return line was also done in AN-8. You can also see our dual Optima RedTops, which power the beast.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Adel Clamps 8/20

A photo under the car shows how we ran the fuel lines. We used rubberized Adel clamps to hold the lines in place. This system requires a return line to keep the pump cool and improve the life of the pump.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion 13204 Regulator 9/20

Aeromotive’s return-style regulator (PN 13204) was mounted to the passenger-side inner fender. We used Earl’s color-coded AN wrenches to put the entire system together.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Rci Max Shift Fluid 10/20

Our TCI Automotive Turbo 400 Super Street Fighter trans received TCI’s Max Shift fluid for the ultimate in durability. This stuff is specifically engineered with high performance in mind and has superior properties compared to parts store fluid.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Lokar Dipstick 11/20
1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Lokar Locking Dipstick 12/20

Lokar’s Locking Dipstick was also ordered for the Nova, which we thought was a very trick piece. Being NHRA approved means it’s accepted at race tracks and its locking mechanism ensures the stick won’t come flying out for any reason. To install this piece correctly, the transmission oil pan must be removed.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion An 6 Male Fittings 13/20

Instead of the stock-style connections for the transmission cooler, we converted our transmission over to AN-6 male fittings.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Derale Fan Oil Cooler 14/20

We decided to clean up the front of the car and use one of Derale’s stacked, dual-fan–equipped transmission oil coolers for this build. This trick piece is what they run on prerunner trucks in the Baja 1000. Take it from us, this moves a ton of air. The photo you see is when we first mounted it, but we eventually used some spacers to drop it down so that the air could circulate more freely.

Speedway Motors was a great source for the finishing items on this build, including their Silicone/Aluminum Radiator Hose Kits (PN 91071051). At $70, this setup is a steal and can make your custom radiator installation a breeze. We also ordered AFCO’s High Performance Coolant for the build. However, we’ll need to switch over to a dragstrip-legal fluid when we run it at the track. Flex-a-lite’s Flex-a-Chill was also used in the system to prevent corrosion and to help lower temps.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Speedway Hose Kit 15/20
1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Steel Clamps 16/20

Here’s how we situated the radiator hoses under the hood. Once we trimmed the silicone/aluminum tubes to fit, we cinched them down with trick stainless steel clamps.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Radiator Hoses 17/20
1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Temp Sensor 18/20

Here’s how we situated the radiator hoses under the hood. Once we trimmed the silicone/aluminum tubes to fit, we cinched them down with trick stainless steel clamps.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Comp Cam Oil 19/20

We’re running COMP Cam’s Muscle Car & Street Rod 10W-30 oil in the Hellion. This blended synthetic formula is specifically engineered for old muscle cars and includes the optimum additives for performance, such as zinc and phosphorous for maximum protection.

1963 Chevy Nova Hardtop Hellion Engine Plumbed 20/20

With the engine plumbed, there are only a few more tasks to be completed before we can cruise it around. We still have quite a few trick parts to use before the car is finished up, but more on that in the months to come.


Air Flow Research
Valencia, CA 91355
Fife, WA 98424
TCI Automotive
Ashland, MS 38603
Comp Cams
Memphis, TN 38118
Summit Racing
Akron, OH
Driven Racing Oil
Huntsville, NC
Speedway Motors
Lincoln, ME 68528
Earl's Performance Plumbing
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Lenexa, KS 66214
AFCO Racing Products
Boonville, IN 47601
Moroso Performance Products
Guilford, CT 06437
Derale Performance
Los Angeles, CA 90063
Lokar Performance Products
Knoxville, TN 37932



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