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David Terry’s 1966 Chevy Nova Packs a Punch in a Plain-Appearing Package

David Terry admits to having a thing for a 1966 Chevy Nova. In fact, his affliction dates back to going to look at the new second-generation Novas when they rolled into the dealerships. He recalls really liking the sharper body lines, vertical taillamps, and especially the L79 option that netted a 350-horsepower 327c.i. small-block V8 under the flat hood.

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In the late-’80s David finally put together a red-on-red 1966 Chevy Nova L79 SS, which was followed by another ’66 SS project. Of the body styles, he prefers the 100-series sedan (he also owns a ’66 Chevelle 300) and has built several sleepers using the high-output 327 driveline. In fact, he was in the midst of building a post car with a complete L79 drivetrain (that was even black with a red interior) when he went for a ride in a friend’s Nova that was equipped with a supercharged LS and other modern upgrades. That ride changed everything for David – he was done with restorations and 50-year-old technology.

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David finished that sedan and immediately sold it to start on a fresh build based around a modern drivetrain. He just happened to have another ’66 post car waiting in the wings, but this time instead of an old-school 327, an LSx376 was called into action along with a Magnuson TVS2300 supercharger. A set of old-school Chevrolet script valve covers was adapted to the engine and the eight coils were hidden, creating a much cleaner looking LS under the flat Nova hood.

1966 nova, 1966 chevy nova, chevy nova, sleeper, supercharged ls, whipple supercharger


1966 nova, 1966 chevy nova, chevy nova, sleeper, supercharged ls, whipple supercharger
1966 nova, 1966 chevy nova, chevy nova, sleeper, supercharged ls, whipple supercharger

Another major update was with a Tremec 6060 manual trans to provide an rpm-friendly overdrive. David topped the White Lightning shifter with a stock-appearing reverse-lockout Muncie stick for a touch of vintage, which carries on through the red interior. As a bare-bones sedan, the factory bench seat was retained to complete the 100-series appearance. The gauge cluster appears stock with the addition of oil, volt and temp gauges added to each side in place of the factory warning lights, and you almost don’t even notice the built-in A/C vents. Larry Blalock is credited with recovering the seats and performing the interior upgrades, which are finished off with a vintage Sun football tach rebuilt by Williamson’s Instruments.

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The factory-designed unibody construction of Novas has never been known for ride quality or great handling, and with the serious power of a supercharged LS, David knew he was going to have to make some updates. For help, he turned to Larry Studard, who swapped out the front suspension with a Mustang II-based kit. A Detroit Speed rear suspension system is tied to a 12-bolt rear axle fitted with a posi and 3.73 gears, with Detroit Speed wheel tubs welded in above for more tire clearance. Four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes were added but are hidden behind a set of 15-inch steel rims capped off with poverty caps. From the side, you don’t even notice the 295/50 tread on the custom 10-inch wide rear rims!

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sleeper, steel wheels, hankook tires, chevy hubcap, chevy hub cap

There was no doubt that car was going to be finished in black, just like David’s previous build. The work was completed by Tom’s Countryside Body Shop. The body was kept bone stock to keep with the sleeper image that all of David’s Chevy IIs have had. The only telltale sign of what lurks under the hood is the extra grille work of the intercooler behind the front bumper and, of course, the serious exhaust note pumping through the Ultimate Headers and Hedman muffers.

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In the end, David has a hot rod 1966 Chevy Nova that he has always loved, but this time with never-ending power and torque with six gears to stir, not to mention power steering and A/C for comfort. Classic looks with modern performance – a combination that is tough to beat.

1966 nova, 1966 chevy nova, chevy nova, sleeper, supercharged ls, whipple supercharger
1966 nova, 1966 chevy nova, chevy nova, sleeper, supercharged ls, whipple supercharger

Photos by Todd Ryden & Steven Bunker

Todd Ryden is first and foremost a car guy and admits to how lucky he is to have been able to build a career out of a hobby that he enjoys so much. He’s owned muscle cars and classics, raced a bit and has cruised across the country. With over 25 years in the industry from the manufacturing and marketing side to writing books and articles, he just gets it.

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