This LS-Powered VW GTI Wowed at SEMA
aesthetics dialed in, Automotive Diagnostic Specialties in Chandler, Arizona, tuned the engine’s Holley Dominator ECU. On the company’s engine dyno, it cranked out 671 hp at 6,800 rpm and 594 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, giving a healthy 1,800 rpm between peak power and peak torque that allows the engine to keep pulling hard on upshifts.
As for the shifting, a close-ratio T56 six-speed was built by Rockland Standard Gear and is linked to the engine with a Centerforce Dyad 8¾-inch clutch and a QuickTime bellhousing, while the connection to the driver is made with a custom short-throw shifter by Detroit Speed. The remainder of the powertrain is equally as track-oriented, with a carbon-fiber driveshaft leading to an expertly built Ford 9-inch rear axle. It’s filled with 31-spline Moser axles and a TrueTrac limited-slip with 3.89:1 gears treated to C&R Racing’s REM finish-
ing process to increase durability and strength.
To keep the little Chevy planted through the corners, Detroit Speed used one of its own Nova front subframes that tie the front rails into the factory location in the floorboard as well as the firewall. Bracing runs from the firewall to just forward of the control-arm mounts and is hidden by off-the-shelf Detroit Speed inner fenders to create an integrated suspension that stiffens the chassis considerably. Their proprietary spindle and control arms use double-adjustable JRI shocks and PAC springs, which are also used on the rear suspension, where a Detroit Speed Quadralink has replaced the leaf springs.
While the business of building a quick track car was a priority, Bob’s Nova also had to look the part inside and out. To set his Nova apart from its grocerygetter roots, the body was smoothed and streamlined by adding flush-mount glass and by removing body side moldings and drip-rail moldings. Additional body mods include Detroit Speed door handles, S500 Mustang side mirrors, flush door-lock cylinders, and bumpers that are tucked into the body. One trick modification that isn’t obvious is the addition of full-length rocker jack rails that allow for safe and easy trackside tire changes.
Reach for the custom, flush-mount Detroit Speed door handles and the interior that awaits is virtually all business. While the seats are padded enough for grand-touring duty, they are also deeply bolstered and ready to throw down on the track, keeping the driver perfectly positioned. The remainder of the interior is decidedly lacking in cushy creature comforts, save for the Vintage Air vents and controls that are neatly tucked into the dash. The door panels are minimalistic, with blacked-out aluminum and sizable sheets of smooth carbon fiber punctuated by only a grab handle, window crank, and latch lever. Even the gauges are no-nonsense, with pertinent racing data displayed on the Holley digital dash.
The total build took just less than two years to complete, and the Nova was ready for its debut at the 2017 SEMA Show. If you’re at time-attack or autocross events in the Southwest, you just may be able to catch it making laps.
[ CNC-ported Brodix heads on a 427ci LS is a recipe for big horsepower—671 at the flywheel, in fact. Detroit Speed considered the entire engine bay when designing its Nova parts, and the header fitment is proof. They have 17⁄ 8- inch primary tubes and...
[ A Detroit Speed minitub allowed for 305mmwide rubber to fit on the compact Nova. Front tires are 275/35ZR18 and the rear tires use 305/30ZR18, both BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S. Wheel widths are 8 and 10 inches, respectively.