Brown's a horsepower freak, no doubt. He's too young to have lived the old days but too old not to know the legacy. He's proud of his accomplishments and humble enough to realize exactly what they mean. He has done it all. Had more than a half-dozen Chevy-powered hot rods. A shoebox Nova freak, he has been hooked on the purity of the '66-67 form forever.
The high-pitched aura of high horsepower transcends. Brown lives two blocks from Pomona. "Needless to say, there are some very fast cars in that neighborhood, so I hear the ruckus and smell the nitro from my house during the World Finals and the Winternationals." He is invigorated by it every day: "I am a manager, and I oversee a standby power plant that has two Allison 501 gas turbines that have approximately 5,000 hp each, so even at work I am surrounded by it. I love it."
So, yes, Eric Brown has torque seeping from all his cranial orifices like he had some kind of incurable life-long allergy. His current stint for survival is this '66 Nova. He said, "The car was a complete mess when I got it, in dire need of bodywork. I disassembled it and built it up again over three years, except for the recently installed eight-point cage by my number one partner Ed `The Old Man' Lane."
There were other agents behind him, of course: Sod, Manuel, and Roland at Hye-Tech Performance (City of Industry, California) did the machine work and engine assembly. "My other `brothers' Dyonne Nelson, Ben Scott, and Dave Lange of Fuel Curve West (Upland, California), Mike at Harland Sharp, and my dad Ray, my brother Evan, and my son Eric all gave their support. It's every hot rodder's dream to get something that they put together in any publication, let alone Chevy High Performance. Thanks, Henry D, for appreciating the effort I put in my car."
Without so many hands and minds in reserve, the project would have consumed many, many more hours, and that is really what this car is all about. It's a collective effort that refunds psychic payback right along with the visceral entertainment it provides. Nice going, you guys. For your unselfish effort, you have become a part of the car's history.
From the outset, it was Brown's intention to forge a fast street machine. And so he did, but by degree. Boulevard duty has now become ancillary to the 1320 rant, although the car is considered street legal. On the face of it, the Nova represents a sensible, working man's approach to the build. It's something that all of us can relate to, something that would provide all of us with happiness and satisfaction. Call it spare, economical, maybe even bare-bones. In a sense, all of us have stood in Brown's shoes at one time or another.
He bought the Nova in 1999 and is already on its fourth and most prodigious engine. When a couple of roller lifters departed in engine No. 3 and made the crime scene messy, he built the current 406-incher to inhale nitrous, a hearty camshaft, compression, and...uh, better lifters. At this writing, Eric was preparing to plop on AFR CNC-ported 227 heads fitted with prototype offset roller rocker arms crafted by Mike at Harland Sharp.
Although the Nova is still somewhat street-worthy (a mere 300 miles on the clock in 10 years), you're more likely to see him at the local NHRA and PSCA races. But this magazine article is Brown's sterling piece. "My wife used to wonder why I spent so much time in the garage. This story is the opportunity. When I get the issue of CHP with my car in it, I'll put it gently in her lap, look her in the eye, and say, `Hey, babe, this is why!'"