Improved For Fun
A few weeks ago, we were out at Fontana, California, testing the suspension and brakes on a '72 Nova. Actually, this is the first time we've had access to the facilities in awhile and even though the corner carving bug had already made its impression on me, this little excursion only sealed the deal.
Chances are you'll probably recognize the Nova we borrowed. Staffer Haggai has stolen it from his brother on a number of occasions for various tech stories. The good thing about this car is that we haven't lavished it with a hodgepodge of components, but instead followed a strict diet of basic bolt-ons with a real car guy's budget.
To bring you up to speed, we've added everything from brake upgrades with a drum-to-disc swap to rebuilding the suspension with modern-day components. Again, nothing radical, but these select items have quickly transformed this project into a reliable cruiser, all the while offering a plush ride.
Of course, we like horsepower, so we did add a little extra oomph with a Weiand supercharger for the 350ci small-block. If you're wondering, this little gem generated 347 hp to the wheels. For the tarmac savvy, even being conservative and assuming that the Nova weighs in at 3,500 pounds; that's good enough for mid 12s at over 108 mph in the quarter-mile, which is very respectable and more than stout for the street.
Even more impressive is that the Nova didn't cower down during testing; instead, it held its own in the 420-foot slalom course, skidpad, and 60-to-0 braking. Admittedly, the results won't conjure up any awards, but it was an absolute blast and we now have baseline numbers to improve upon.
Keep in mind, this isn't only about performance. With improved handling and braking any car can react better and even help to potentially avoid a disaster on the street. Add in the fact that organized autocross events are available nearly everywhere, this opens up the door for spirited seat time on any given weekend. On the plus side, you aren't required to pass a stringent physical or get a special license to join in on the fun.
All things considered, it's one thing to talk tech, discussing theory and various applications, however after this recent flogging; we're up for a lot more. Anyone want to see how a portly B-body can do with a few off-the-shelf upgrades? How about an El Camino? Email me and let us know what you would like to see covered.