TOP CAT

Tom Collins’ wicked 1967 Chevy Nova SS re­lives the past

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT & PHO­TOS: Chuck Vranas

long be­fore get­ting a li­cense. By the time Tom legally hit the streets he was wheel­ing a hopped-up ’68 Chev­elle. There’s al­ways that one car in the neigh­bor­hood that makes a long-last­ing im­pres­sion and for Tom it was a 1941 Willys gasser he saw run­ning at Ce­cil County Drag­way.

As the years passed, Tom be­came owner of North­ern Neck Chevro­let in Mon­tross and con­tin­ued to own a num­ber of ag­gres­sive street cars. The mem­o­ries of gassers run­ning at the dragstrip, how­ever, still haunted him. Hav­ing al­ways been a fan of early Chevy II No­vas he made a de­ci­sion to start the search for a per­fect gasser can­di­date. A lo­cal friend re­vealed a moth­balled ’67 SS that was a for­mer drag car, dormant since the ’70s. The car was stripped of its in­te­rior and driv­e­line and sit­ting on a set of Cen­ter Line wheels. It was the per­fect base to get started with so a deal was made.

Hav­ing seen a num­ber of wicked gassers built by B’z Rods in Beach Park, Illi­nois, Tom set up a meet­ing with shop owner Brian Bell. They shared many of the same ideas in build­ing a nasty street gasser so the car was dropped off to let the team start. The en­tire car was dis­as­sem­bled and sent off for me­di­a­blast­ing to re­veal its past. What came back proved the car had been thrashed hard over the years, but was sal­vage­able.

To cre­ate a base ready to han­dle plenty of abuse, the orig­i­nal fram­erails were re­placed with a cus­tom frame cre­ated from 2x3-inch steel com­plete with cus­tom cross­mem­bers TIG-welded di­rectly to the body shell.

An NHRA-cer­ti­fied eight-point rollcage was in­stalled for added stiff­ness. The floor and trunk pans were also re­placed. Out back you’ll find a nar­rowed and braced Strange En­gi­neer­ing 9-inch rear filled with 4.11 gears turn­ing 31-spline axles com­plete with a De­troit True­trac locker as­sem­bled by Chas­sis Ser­vice of Waukegan, Illi­nois. It’s sus­pended in place by a set of B’z cus­tom 54-inch lad­der bars matched to their ex­clu­sive four-way track lo­ca­tor ac­cented by a pair of Strange En­gi­neer­ing ad­justable coilover shocks.

If you’re build­ing a proper gasser it bet­ter have a mile-high front end. This is where B’z knocked it out of the park with their straight-axle sub­frame kit fea­tur­ing a jig-built sub­frame com­plete with a front-steer de­sign. It’s set up with cus­tom forged spin­dles matched to 29-inch par­al­lel leaf springs along with PRO tube shocks all linked to a Vega box. A Strange En­gi­neer­ing dual master moves fluid through stain­less lines to a set of Wil­wood drilled and slot­ted discs with Dy­nalite fourpis­ton calipers at each cor­ner. To get the power to the street, E-T Fueler 15x12 wheels wear Mickey Thompson ET Street bias-ply rub­ber out back com­bined with 15-inch front Rocket Rac­ing Launcher wheels capped with Pro Trac/Coker rub­ber.

For tire sear­ing power, Tom called Big Al’s Toy Box of Gay­lordsville, Con­necti­cut, to build a 540ci big­block mill packed with a speed shop full of go-fast goods. A Dart

Big M block was filled with an

Ea­gle 4340 forged steel crank linked to match­ing 4340 H-beam steel con­nect­ing rods capped with 8.5:1 JE forged alu­minum pis­tons all urged by a Comp cam. A set of mas­saged Ad­vanced Per­for­mance En­gi­neer­ing alu­minum heads make plenty of power, espe­cially when matched with an 8-71 su­per­charger from The Blower Shop fed by dual Hol­ley 950-cfm carbs. Gen­er­at­ing a healthy 920 hp on the dyno, it all sparks to life through an MSD ig­ni­tion with spent gasses dump­ing out a set of cool, cus­tom­fabbed 2 1/4-inch zoomies from B’z. An ATI Fuel Comp TH400 trans wear­ing a 3,000-stall con­verter meets the Mark Williams drive­shaft.

Clean­ing up the rear wheel­tubs, then stretch­ing the rear wheel­wells 4 1/2 inches fol­lowed fill­ing and smooth­ing the fire­wall. The body was then metal-fin­ished with all gaps set by the team at B’z. The com­pleted body was then sent over to Danny Ray’s Cus­tom Auto Body in Gurnee, Illi­nois, to prep it for a coat­ing of PPG ’82 Corvette White.

In­side, the stock dash fea­tures a cus­tom gauge and switch panel

hous­ing and Ste­wart-Warner dials to mon­i­tor the vi­tals along with a dash­mounted Sun tach. A Mooneyes red­flake steer­ing wheel nav­i­gates through a Flam­ing River col­umn.

Rob Brown wired the car while the B’z team in­stalled the car­pet and head­liner. Seams Ridicu­lous of Mon­tross trimmed the seats and pan­els in a wicked white roll and pleat ac­cented by tasty red met­alflake and white vinyl. Ad­di­tional cus­tom fab­ri­ca­tion and fi­nal assem­bly were com­pleted by Gat­ton’s Garage of Mon­tross.

The vis­ual im­pact of the car leaves you awestruck as it’s just as nice from top to bot­tom. How­ever, the fi­nal punch hits when Tom lights the ig­ni­tion and brings the an­gry big-block to life roar­ing through the zoomies.

B’z Rods hit a home run on this Chevy II! CHP

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