Fifteen years is a long stretch, no matter where you do it. But spending half your young life on an elective, a project, is quite another. In the hot rodding sphere, 15 years might as well be a century. You challenge the cam-of-the-week freaks, the message boards that don’t say what you want them to say, your own temperament, your notions of accomplishment. During that stretch, the plans and ideals for your project might shift 180 degrees, yet the spark is no less strong. You wrap them into one and stand out in the cold and the dark, hoping that your constitution is formidable enough to see it through until the happy ending.
Jay Biondo is experienced. Jay is smart. He began with a body completed. All the metal is original, save for the ’glass cowl hood. That red is a stock ’67 Nova color and it’s been on the body since 1980. Prior, Jay had schmoozed a ’71 Olds Cutlass, then an ’86 Monte with a big-block prodder. At this point, Jay’s sunk about $60,000 in his X-body, all of it for hard core and with racing in mind. His car is clean, straight, and almost too pretty to abuse. But abuse it he does.
The Nova makes no pretense of being well rounded, a car for all seasons. All you have to do is look at the rubber it carries. Skinnies up front dutifully followed by drag radials. At the track the radials are swapped for 10.5 slicks. With DOT-approved rear rubber, Jay does cruise nights and shows that are partly responsible for the 1,500 miles the Nova’s odometer accrues every year. The rest of it he racks up a quarter-mile at a time.
Jay’s drag race theme is engendered mainly by the tire/wheel selection and, at first glance, by little else. In another sphere, it could quite easily pass for a Pro Touring exponent. Your eyes think “stock” until you spy the rollbar hoop stuck close to the (imaginary) B-pillar. Then, it’s on. Jay’s a member of the Midwest Super Stock Mafia (races at Great Lakes Dragaway, da Grove) and the Byron 8-Second Doorslammer Wheelie Cars club. To prepare the red gorilla, Jay enlisted Pat Powers at PMP Fabrication in Oaklawn, Illinois.
PMP laid in the mini-tubs and moved the framerails inward an inch to fit those 10 wides. The center of activity is a narrowed 9-inch that’s been packed with all the tough parts necessary for combat as well as peace of mind. The double-adjustable shocks are easy to manage for various track-surface conditions. At front, the combination came together with an aftermarket front clip that Jay notched to accept a substantial increase in front end travel, led by single-adjustable coilovers.
Perhaps Jay’s greatest feat was disguising his 8-second thrill ride as some hump’s pretty streetwalker. Yeah, so it’s got a long scoop on the hood and big ’n’ littles. How many other cars have you seen like this pumped with a mild 350 hop-up underneath? Jay runs his motor day and night when the weather is right, living the life from a 10-gallon fuel cell. Put another way, that’s about 100 miles of plugging, chugging, and getting some payback—but all in the name of (nasty) fun, dig it.
Jay’s red buddy snorts. Jay’s red buddy peels out. Jay’s thinking about what will come next. Like most suppliants to these pages, Jay claims the car will never really be finished, because “I’m always changing parts and upgrading.” On tap for 2011: “The car will get Hooker’s new fenderwell headers whose primaries have a three-way step and end in a 4-inch collector.”
Jay has not had the car or its small-block engine on any type of measuring device, but computes all the vitals of engine and chassis interspersed with elapsed time and trap speed to a frightful, ear-ringing 1,100 wheel horsepower—on pump gas.
Before beginning the engine project, Jay conferred with Automotive Engine Specialties in Elk Grove. AES machined the Dart Little M block to Jay’s desired measurements and he took the pile home to put it together. With the right bore size and a Callies forged arm, the little-block plays a 400ci tune. Coated Diamond pistons (fitted with Hellfire rings) swing on Eagle rods to produce a nominal 8.5:1 compression ratio. The companion half of the compression equation are the 75cc combustion chambers in the 23-degree AFR 227 CNC heads. A Cloyes double-roller chain hooks the Isky cam to the Callies crank. And since the engine gets its big hit from an F2 ProCharger, the solid roller specs are nominal (274/284 degrees duration at 0.050 inch and a 0.650-inch lift on both). Tempering the pressurized charge (20 psi) is an air-to-liquid heat exchanger and tank from Chiseled Performance. The AFR castings are embellished with 2.100/1.600 valves and Pac Racing springs (225 pounds on seat; 585 pounds open). The rocker arm force is a Jesel shaft collective, employing Isky pushrods and AFR guideplates. The fuel supply is introduced electronically, coursing to a Holley 850-cfm HP carburetor that was setup for the blow-through operation by Kevin at CSU in Fontana, California. It stands tall on the Super Victor Jr. intake manifold, and at the leading end of intake tract is a K&N element to keep out the big chunks. Waste products are extracted by Hooker 17/8-inch primary Super Comps. The ignition system is composed of an MSD 7531 box and Pro Billet distributor. Oiling is enabled by a six-quart Moroso pan and accompanying Mellings pump. Jay jams torque through a Turbo 400 transmission that he fortified with a billet valvebody, B&M Pro Stick shifter, and a Biondo (no relation) Racing transbrake. Quartermaster Industries built him a one-piece, 3-inch diameter driveshaft that hooks to a narrowed Moser 9-inch housing. Inside that sleek suitcase are 3.55:1 gears, Moser spool, and 35-spline axles. At a near-oafish 3,625 pounds, the Nova easily cracks 8s, and the best numbers to date are 8.52 at 163 mph.
A large portion of the Nova’s appearance rests with the wheel and tire combination. Jay chose Billet Specialties’ minimal but mighty Street Lite hoops. The skinnies measure 15x3.5 and carry M/T Sportsman fronts. On the butt end, it’s 15x10 with 275/60 street radials. When it’s time to rumple rubber at Byron Dragway wheelie contests or to his competition at the dragstrip, Jay swaps them out for Mickey’s 28x10.5 slicks. Considering the Nova’s primary mission, its brakes were refreshed but are no larger than stock. The calipers and rotors are from an ’81 Camaro.
The Moser housing nests between Art Morrison ladder bars and Strange Engineering double-adjustable coilovers; the springs are rated at 120 pounds. For the needed structural help and obvious safety, PMP Fabrication set him up with an eight-point rollcage, effectively adding a B-pillar to the hardtop’s construction. At front, PMP began with a Heidts tubular clip that they modified for coilovers. Then, they notched the frame for more suspension travel. Wheel damping is left to Strange single-adjustable coilover shocks with a 325-pound spring rate. More modernization is represented by a Heidts rack steering system and 2-inch drop spindles from an ’81 Camaro. When the construction was complete and the car was track ready, PMP applied its expertise with chassis and suspension tuning.
Jay began the interior revitalization with a Painless wiring system that he customized to meet his needs. The black carpet that came with the Nova stayed right where it was. Then, Danny’s Glass & Trim in Wauconda, Illinois, accepted the interior assignment. Danny’s upholstered the rear bench and applied a similar pattern to the JAZ racing seats. Jay proceeded with the minimal changes that suit his pseudo streeter. The dash insert is a CNC-tooled billet piece (powdercoated black) from Metrom Performance Products in Lake Zurich. This is Metrom’s original design and will be in production by the time you read this. Though Jay is an HVAC/refrigeration tech, you’ll not find any such product in his racer. Music has not been denied. He installed a JVC head and backed it with a multitude of Alpine speakers, front and rear.
Not much to say here. “Except for the hood, I purchased the car the way it is,” Jay says. In the ’80s, it got repainted the stock Nova red, but he doesn’t know who did it or exactly when. It still looks crisp to us. CHP