A WORK IN PROGRESS

Dave Stagliano’s 1970 Nova was a rea­son­ably priced pur­chase

Chevy High Performance - - Contents - TEXT & PHO­TOS: John Machaque­iro

Dave Stagliano’s 1970 Nova was a rea­son­ably priced pur­chase

Not ev­ery­one that has an au­to­mo­tive pas­sion can in­dulge in it to its lim­its. Those lim­its are usu­ally a mov­ing tar­get de­pend­ing on many fac­tors like fi­nances, fam­ily, time, and, oc­ca­sion­ally, a spe­cific skill set if it in­volves things like fabri­ca­tion or sim­ply turn­ing some wrenches. For Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dent Dave Stagliano, his au­to­mo­tive in­ter­ests evolved from an early age, but were al­ways com­pro­mised by some of those mov­ing tar­gets. He points out, “Ever since I was a kid I used to go with my un­cle to Maple Grove and I al­ways liked hot rods. I’ve had cars like an IROC Z28 and a Corvette, but I al­ways wanted ei­ther a Pro Street or drag car.” As Dave en­tered into adult­hood, fam­ily and busi­ness re­spon­si­bil­i­ties made it dif­fi­cult for him to in­dulge in his de­sires. The fac­tory per­for­mance cars filled that gap un­til he was able to look for some­thing that he truly de­sired.

That thresh­old was crossed when he de­cided it was time to buy some­thing that wasn’t driven off the show­room floor—some­thing unique but also well on its way in the build stage. Be­ing a busi­ness owner with lim­ited time to de­vote to a full-blown project, and not want­ing to sink a ton of money into a car that had to be torn apart and put back to­gether, a work in progress was the ideal com­pro­mise, which is ac­tu­ally the path taken by many who are faced with sim­i­lar lim­i­ta­tions.

At the top of his wish list was a

Pro Street ’69 Camaro, with a Nova a

close sec­ond. Dave quickly found out when he started look­ing that there was no short­age of first-gen Ca­maros for sale; how­ever, most of them had hefty price tags that were well above his price point. He was de­ter­mined to get a Camaro but freely ad­mits, “It had to be one pretty badass Nova for me to change my mind.” When this one popped up lo­cally at a rea­son­able price, it sealed the deal.

When Dave went to look at the Nova, he was so fix­ated on what was in front of him that he didn’t re­ally dig too deep to see if there were any is­sues with the car. What he ended up buy­ing was a 1970 Nova that had al­ready been back-halved with a nar­rowed Dana 60 in­stalled. At the front it had a QA1 ad­justable sus­pen­sion in place, and QA1 coilovers at all four cor­ners. Un­der the hood was a 454ci LS7 backed by a TH400 trans­mis­sion. It ap­peared to have had a fresh coat of GM Sun­burst Or­ange II Metal­lic paint ap­plied, along with some Yenko-fla­vored stripes at some point. What he also bought was a car that had been passed along by a num­ber of peo­ple, with no clear his­tory of its

ori­gins. Dave did some dig­ging and was able to find some in­for­ma­tion on the car, but was never able to track down the guy who ini­tially had it built.

It was a work in progress for Dave that also ap­peared to be a work in progress for all the pre­vi­ous own­ers. He did man­age to find some­one that had done a fair amount of work to the car. Bill Moss, the owner of Bill Moss Auto Re­pair in Warmin­ster, Penn­syl­va­nia, was re­spon­si­ble for fix­ing many of the grem­lins on the Nova for a pre­vi­ous owner. Bill sent him a laun­dry list of things that were re­paired and up­graded. The swap to the QA1 front end was done at his shop; how­ever, the bulk of the work ap­pears to have re­volved around the elec­tri­cal sys­tem, which was still not fully sorted when Dave drove it home.

Af­ter a few weeks with the car, he started plan­ning what up­grades he wanted to do. It helps to have good friends, and equally good neigh­bors— es­pe­cially ones that have lifts at home to fa­cil­i­tate things. His neigh­bor Pat Klem has been that fa­cil­i­ta­tor. When they first started dig­ging into the Nova, they found crushed brake lines and

fuel lines, and a fuel sys­tem that was a mess, which they re­paired. The car was also be­ing robbed of per­for­mance with an in­ad­e­quate ex­haust sys­tem, which was equally sorted with the ad­di­tion of larger plumb­ing and some Flow­mas­ter Out­law muf­flers. Per­haps the big­gest is­sue has been fix­ing the elec­tri­cal is­sues that seem to have plagued this car all along. Half of the in­te­rior elec­tri­cal sys­tem and gauges weren’t func­tional, which was fi­nally fixed.

These is­sues have kept Dave from mov­ing on to do other things on the car. The pos­i­tive side has been the driv­e­train. The LS7, which for many is de­ceiv­ing when the hood is popped isn’t what folks have come to ex­pect when they hear that en­gine des­ig­na­tion. This is an old­school mill that was de­vel­oped as a re­place­ment for the LS6 back in the early ’70s. As a re­sult of the gas cri­sis in 1973, it was never of­fered in any ve­hi­cle; how­ever, it did end up in the Chevro­let Per­for­mance cat­a­log as a crate en­gine and can be iden­ti­fied to­day with the XCH stamp­ing. These pow­er­plants were all busi­ness back then, with an of­fi­cially rated power min­i­mum of 500 hp. Orig­i­nally equipped with 12.5:1 pis­tons, at some point this Nova un­der­went a pis­ton swap to a more street-friendly 10.0:1 set. The rock solid com­bi­na­tion of the LS7, TH400, and Dana 60 has al­lowed Dave to light the tires at will—to the point that he has mas­sa­cred a set since get­ting the car. Since we shot the car, the 2-inch cowl hood has been swapped with a taller 4-inch unit, and there is a ProCharger su­per­charger in­stal­la­tion in the works, too. There are also in­te­rior changes on the hori­zon that Dave hopes takes the car to the next level. He has no re­grets about buy­ing it, and is en­joy­ing the time he is spend­ing with his fam­ily go­ing to shows in it.

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