Building A Bad Nova By Removing Pop Rivets And Starting From Scratch

Every now and again, I come across a car that is so sentimental to its caretaker that you can see the emotion on the owner’s face when he or she talks about the car. I can totally relate. However, it’s not very often I come across a “company car” that evokes that type of response. When I do, you know the company is filled with true enthusiasts. Such is the case of the Speedway Motors Comp-G Nova.

According to the Speedway Motors blog (The Toolbox), this little ’65 Nova has been part of the Speedway family for the last several years. In the last seven, the car has been piloted by some of the most famous names in the business. During that time, the little Nova has seen its share of good times — and bad. But like many stories, this one has a humble beginning.

Nova

Under the hood is a dry-sump-lubricated 427-inch LS7 that makes about 700 horsepower. A Quick Fuel carb feeds the fires, and a big Comp Cams solid-roller bumpy stick controls the breathing.

The G-Comp Nova’s journey began with Speedway Motors around 2013. Back then, the Speedway engineering team had just developed a new, upgraded suspension for first-gen Chevy II’s called G-Comp. These newly designed underpinnings promised a radical improvement over the OE hardware these cars used. But to quantify the work, Speedway Motors needed a test mule. Luckily, this little ’65 Nova popped up on the internet.

As I mentioned, the car was needed to verify the possible improvements to be had with the new G-Comp suspension, so that means a baseline was needed. Before the upgrades could start, Speedway Motors’ Senior Product Engineer, Jared Cote, strapped in behind the wheel and ran some impromptu hot laps around the company parking lot. I hear it was a scary session.

With the Nova back in the shop after testing, it was stripped down to a shell, which unfortunately revealed floorboard repairs made with pop rivets — that had to go. Once the floor was repaired, the first production version of the G-Comp front and rear suspensions were fitted.

With the floors repaired and the new suspension under the Nova, it was time for motivation. To accomplish that, a big-inch small-block was acquired from BluePrint engines and was then bolted to a Tremec five-speed. The mill was topped with an MSD Atomic fuel injection system, and headers made specifically for the subframe were bolted to a custom exhaust system. The upgrades were finished just in time for the car to attend the Goodguys Heartland Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, in July 2014.

Nova

Although the ride to the local ice cream stand might not be air-conditioned, it could not be any more fun.

Even though the car had received some serious race-oriented upgrades, I hear it was a nice driver. The suspension worked very well, and the car’s ride was firm, but not obnoxious. The author of the blog even quipped, “It was like a new Corvette or CTS-V got swallowed up by a clunky old grocery getter.”

Year after year, the Nova continued to evolve. The suspension’s spring rates changed, shock adjustments got dialed in, and a series of different small blocks made their way between the fenders. In fact, the car even won the Goodguys point championship in 2016.

Nova

In its current configuration, the boxy little Nova is sporting a 427-inch LS7 that makes about 700 horsepower. There’s a big 1,000 cfm Quick Fuel carb tucked under the fiberglass cowl hood, and breathing is controlled by a big Comp Cams solid roller that won’t idle below about 1,200 rpm. The ride height is as low as can be to create a low center of gravity — remember, this is a corner-cutting machine.

The Tremec is still in place but has been modified by Dederich’s Motorsport in order to shift without the need for the clutch. So as you can imagine, it rattles, clangs, and clunks whenever it’s not under load. The author of the Toolbox blog stated, “It’s a far cry from the relatively mild-mannered car that first rolled out of the shop. But even with all of those rough edges, the Nova is still a total hoot to drive, even on the street. It still has the stock door panels, dash, and full glass. Heck, it still has a backseat.”

If you would like to read more about his hot little machine, you can check out the Toolbox blog by clicking here.

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About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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