One Bad Nova

December 19th, 2011

Text and Photos by Bob McClurg

Don Clark is the second owner of this ‘67 Nova SS. Its original owner purchased it in Southern California. The Nova was delivered from the factory with an inline six-cylinder engine and was painted butternut yellow. Now painted two-tone burnt orange and gold, the Ram Jet 350 engine was built by Wylie, TX, Wade Faustmann and his crew at Wade’s Rod & Custom.

Don Clark’s ’67 Nova SS

The 1966-67 has become the most popular Nova model Chevrolet ever built. These mighty little compact two doors are all the rage among today’s muscle car builders. Enthusiasts have been building the little deuce coupes for decades now, but there’s one gentleman who really did it right: Don Clark from McKinney, Texas, collaborated with Wade Faustmann of Wade’s Rod & Custom in Wylie, Texas. Wade and his crew are responsible for building this incredible two-tone burnt orange and gold metallic ’67 Nova SS. It’s an incredible muscle machine!

Purchased from the original owner in Southern California, this Nova originally started life as a butternut yellow six-cylinder car with black vinyl top and factory bucket seat SS console interior and all of the trim except the wheel well moldings. Headlight bezels and taillight bezels are original. The bumpers and vent windows are factory originals, although they have been rechromed.

The Nova is what you would call a frame-off build, although these cars really don’t have a frame. Wade and his crew stripped the ’67 down to the bare metal prior to working their magic. The most logical place to start is with the ‘67′s unibody suspension. First of all, Faustmann & Co. tunneled the ‘67’s rear floor in order to provide the correct ride height for a Faustmann-fabricated four-bar rear suspension using Air Ride Technologies four-bar brackets and a Carrera coil-over-equipped 3.73:1 Currie Enterprises rearend outfitted with a pair of 13-inch, cross-drilled and slotted rotor Baer brakes. Also in that general vicinity is a Rock Valley, 22-gallon stainless steel gas tank that’s had its filler neck relocated to the center of the back bumper. Tying everything together is a set of Faustmann-fabricated subframe connectors.

The custom-made Faustmann dash features Auto Meter gauges, SoCal switches, Vintage Air climate control and a hidden Clarion head unit.

Up front you will find Heidts equal length control arm front suspension using a set of Heidt’s 2-inch dropped front spindles, ART suspension brackets, a set of Carrea coil-over shocks, Flaming river rack-and-pinion steering and 13-inch, cross-drilled and slotted rotor Baer brakes, using an SSBC master cylinder and a CPP power disc brake booster. Of course, the entire undercarriage is painted a Spies Hecker custom mix of burnt candy orange and gold, as well as being fully plumbed with polished stainless steel hard lines and braided stainless soft lines. Wheels and tires on the Nova consist of a set of 17 x 7-inch front and 17 x 9.5-inch rear Billet Specialties Legacy wheels wrapped with P215/45ZR-17 front, P275/40ZR-17 rear, BF Goodrich G Force high performance radial rubber.

Powering this bad boy is a Street & Performance, Inc. Ram Jet 350-ci Chevrolet crate engine. Internally, the cast iron, two-bolt main 350 Ram Jet features a 4.00-inch bore and 3.48-inch stroke, a GM Performance Parts hydraulic roller cam, a GM Performance Parts cast iron crankshaft, and a set of 9.4:1 compression pistons swinging on a set of H.O. 350 powdered metal/steel connecting rods, capped off with a set of 64cc GM Performance Parts Vortec cast iron cylinder heads with a 19.94-inch-diameter intake, and 1.50-inch-diameter exhaust valves with a set of 1.6:1 ratio rocker arms.

Goodmark Industries really hit a homerun with its steel cowl induction hood series. Don bolted on a 2-inch model.

Of course, the Ram Jet 350 fuel-injection doghouse on these engines is reminiscent of Rochester mechanical injection small-blocks from the ‘50s. The Ram Jet 350 also comes with its own factory fuel-injection harness, in this particular case, set up to be governed by a Detail Zone engine management system.

The Street & Performance engine was snazzed up by polishing or plating every removable component. Also, part of this combination is a Billet Specialties Tru Trac serpentine accessory drive and Vintage Air Sure Fit climate control. The engine cooling is handled by a twin electric fan setup and a Griffin four-core-aluminum radiator. The engine is exhausted by a set of Street & Performance, Inc. four-tube headers, which spin the spent gases back through a Faustmann-fabricated mandrel-bent 2 ½-inch- diameter HPC-coated exhaust system using twin billet mufflers.

A Keisler-Tremec TKO five-speed transmission using modified Hurst shifter and a McLeod clutch has also been installed. The final link in the Nova’s power train is  a Coleman-fabricated custom driveshaft.

When it came to the Nova’s exterior sheet metal, Faustmann installed a Goodmark Industries 2-inch cowl induction hood. In the process, he also filled the gas filler door on the driver’s side and dechromed everything. Inside the engine compartment, you’ll find a Danny Day custom firewall. Then Wade sprayed a custom blend of Spies Hecker Burnt Candy Orange and Gold. Alton Cillespie applied the slash graphics. Exterior upgrades also include a really trick Danny Day billet-aluminum custom trunk bezel with a lit SS emblem along with a custom gas door.

Opening the doors exposes the plush interior stitchcraft of Shawn Cook, who covered the Pro Car front bucket seats and highly modified the rear bench seat before covering them in tan ultra leather with contrasting tan Wolton carpeting. The sculpted door panels and custom headliner are more examples of Cook’s superior stitchery. Interior upgrades also include a custom das with Clayton Machine handles and So Cal switches, an array of Auto Meter gauges, a Clarion head unit and truck-mounted Clarion amp. You’ll also find even more of Cook’s handiwork, along with JBL speakers and JBL subwoofers, contained in a custom sub enclosure. All of the Nova’s chassis wiring was handled by American Autowire.

Over the years, Don Clark has owned a ton of special interest cars, including a couple of Tri-Five Chevys, a couple of Olds Jet Fires, a ’32 Ford, a ’69 and ’71 Camaro, a bunch of Vettes, even a Z06, but he says that the Nova is his favorite car.

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