1966 Chevy Nova SS - Nova Number One
This is the way to do a box Nova right, boys and girls, especially the one with the sleekest, sweetest sheetmetal ever arranged on an X-car. These coupes are good-looking, sure; but surely, they ain't got a shred of substance. No handling power. Won't take a big engine without a major frontend hack. Brakes work better when you drag your feet. Handling? Wheeled washtubs. But man, they look good, don't they? Aftermarket comes to the rescue. Compared to the old Nova, one with the right updates has adapted envelopes of hellish power but still looks stock on the outside. It all works like a champ. So why isn't Bo Harden tired of this car yet?
It is no longer a car. It has become a fixture in his life. He's owned the Nova for more than half of his 38 years, tending it like a child, giving the best stuff imaginable. The Nova has naturally followed him into adulthood. The Nova is here to stay. Though it vibes badass right in plain sight, the Nova's impulse is subdued by the Artesian Turquoise pigment, the rollcage mostly tucked away from sight, and those big back tires that look like they just fell on the car. It's kind of like stealth implied. Yup, your eyes see me but your head is looking at me in a completely different context. Novas were ingrained in the young Bo. You could say he was brainwashed by 'em. His grandparents had them, "so I always wanted one," crows Bo. Granddad laid Nova Number One on him with a stipulation: The motor couldn't get any bigger than a 283.
"I found this car locally. The gentleman had five from which to choose. I picked the '66 SS because it had a Turbo 350 with a shift kit, new silver paint, and a 262ci V-8 from a '75 Monza. I rebuilt the frontend and did the interior over. By the end of my senior year in high school, I'd built a 283 and a 10-bolt Posi. Six months later, I had a 355 with a tunnel ram on it. "I drove it that way for two years," Bo continues. "Then I built the 406 that's been in it since 1991. I stopped driving the car every day because I lost my license for too many tickets. Guess that's why Dad didn't want me to have a fast car."
We'd guess that Dad's reasoning, however, was deemed pathetic and completely lost on Bo. "On a 150-shot, the street tires spin but it still clipped a high 11," Bo confides. The no-bite situation got him hot for a mini-tub job. With slicks, it ran 12.20s on the motor.
In 2003, 20 years to the day after he got the Nova, Bo blew it apart again and completely redid all the systems except for the bullet, because he wanted "everything to be new all at once. If I could find N.O.S. or new parts, I bought them. It's all new, from brake lines to wiring harness."
And so it was. Bo stuck a coilover front suspension in the Nova, thus freeing up lots of useable real estate and blessing the car with enviable handling characteristics to go with the much improved braking power. The frontend swap also stiffened the car, bringing parity to the eight-point rollcage and the subframe connectors. All the right stuff for this unibody. Though braking is curtailed by wheel diameter, at least the binders are discs all around.
"I've had a bunch of offers from people wanting to buy it," Bo says. Then he explains that he couldn't do something like that because it was his first car and it is quite irreplaceable. Amen, Bo. (But if you do, please call me first!-RM)
Tommy Scoggins in Monroe, Georgia, built the 406 small-block with a '70 400ci cylinder case that Ewing Automotive in Snellville had machined to spec along with all the rotating parts. Tommy used a stock crank cut 0.010/0.010 and put TRW 10.5:1 flat-top pistons circled by Sealed Power moly rings on the stock 400 connecting rods. A Comp Cams solid roller shoulders 254/265 degrees of duration at 0.050, but the lift number is a secret. Tommy sunk it in the block with a Comp timing chain and covered his tracks with a 6-quart Moroso oil pan. The ported Dart II angle-plug cylinder heads were built with 2.05/1.60-inch valves, Crane roller rocker arms, and Comp retainers and pushrods. An Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake accepts a 750 Holley that now flows at least 930 cfm. Phasing the ignition, an MSD distributor, Blaster coil, 6AL box, and timing control, which is required to help manage the NOS Cheater 150-shot. Fuel delivery is by a brace of Holley black pumps, Mallory fuel filters, and AN-10 lines from the 12-gallon fuel cell. You'll notice how uncluttered Bo's engine compartment is, an image heightened by the backswept Hooker Super Comp fenderwell headers that dump into a 3-inch system monitored by Flowmaster cans. Cooling the small-block in those torrential Georgia summers is left to a big Be Cool core and electric fans as well as a CSI water pump. Bo hiked up to Buford to see Steve Howard about the transmission. Steve built the Turbo 400 with a Turbo Action manual shift valvebody and gave it impetus via a TCI 10-inch converter with a 3,500 stall speed. He gave it longevity with a B&M cooler and oil pan and hooked it to an aluminum prop shaft. The ultimate twist is absorbed by a Fab 9 axle and a spool "differential" spinning 4.56s.
Before he touched anything else, Bo hadHR Race Car Products in Comer, Georgia, attack the frame and all it encompasses. HR stretched the factory wheeltubs 2 inches and notched the rear of the car to accept them. They hung a narrowed (10 inches) Fab 9 axlehousing with coilover shocks and located it with a four-link setup. A Flaming River rack steering works with 2-inch dropped spindles. When the HR crew installed the Heidt's frontend assembly, they introduced more favorable geometry to the system, chopped off ugly fat, and gave it lighter, more efficient components. No more wishing, hoping, or dragging feet.
This '60s Nova carries '73 Chevy 11-inch discs in front and GM 10-inch rotors in back, all of it neatly tucked behind 15-inch race wheels. The skinnies are 15x165 metrics on Weld 3.5-inch-wide forgings. Drive wheels roll out on P325/50R15 BFG g-Force tires and 10.5-inch-wide Weld Draglites.
Rollin' Relics in Madison got the interior assignment. This rendition includes Year One seat covers and door panels in the stock shade of turquoise. As a matter of fact, stock abounds here, right down to the AM squawkbox. Wiring is stock. The dashboard is stock. The Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges and the shoulder harness are not. Dig that skinny stock steering wheel.
The PPG two-stage Artesian Turquoise tends to lull the viewer into a false sense of security. There's no bling, no red to inflame, no flames to urge. It's charming and sedate-the only thing hinky is the Glasstec 4-inch cowl hood, and that sort of blends in anyway. Bowers Collision and Customs in Lawrenceville did the job. CHP

Photo Gallery: 1966 Chevy Nova SS - Nova Number One

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