Big-block Chevrolet Nova wins Goodguys 2013 Hemmings Muscle Car of the Year award
The formula of shoehorning a big engine into a small car is one that never goes out of style, but some like to take this one step further. Why pay for luxury amenities you don’t want and won’t need, when the bulk of your driving will be done in quarter-mile increments? While you couldn’t walk into a Chevrolet dealer in 1970 and order a base model Nova with the big-block V-8, Donald Knox’s immaculate 1970 Chevrolet Nova, winner of the Goodguys 2013 Hemmings Muscle Car of the Year Award, asks the question, “What if you could?”
To be clear, Knox’s car started life as a base V-8 Nova, but sometime before he purchased the car a 402-cu.in. V-8 from a Chevelle was substituted for the original engine, likely a 307-cu.in. V-8. The current engine is rated at a conservative 350 horsepower, and the car shifts through a Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 transmission, sending power to the Firestone Deluxe Champion redline tires through a 10-bolt Posi-traction rear end. That should deliver a quarter-mile performance in the neighborhood of 15.7 seconds, at around 98 MPH.
Underneath, the car rides on F41 heavy-duty springs and shocks, and includes both power steering and power brakes. Though the 14-inch redline tires give the car a sporting look, the dog-dish hubcaps run counter to the car’s sporting mission. We’d stop short of calling it a Q-ship due to those 396 emblems on the front fenders, but it certainly is understated in appearance.
Not content to have just another hot-rod Nova, Knox took his car one step further, detailing it as it would have been delivered to a dealership (had such a car existed). The restored front bench seat looks showroom-fresh, and Knox usually displays the car with plastic covers on the pedals, sun visor and steering wheel. The engine compartment is as clean (or cleaner, perhaps) as that of a car that just rolled off the assembly line, seeming to contradict the 60,000 miles displayed by the Nova’s odometer. And those 60,000 miles are as of now: Though Knox, who lives in North Carolina, is considering shipping the car to the Goodguys Southwest Nationals in Arizona this November, he typically drives it to shows in the Southeast. It’s no trailer queen, as Knox doesn’t even own a trailer to haul it in or on.
Though purists may complain that this isn’t an original car, that misses the point of the build entirely. Given the value of a Yenko Nova, or other such special original build, driving it on the street is cost prohibitive. This Nova, on the other hand, can be driven and enjoyed without fear of asset depreciation, which is really the point of owning a muscle car in the first place.
Source: Hemmings Motor News