Reliability and performance are two prominent focal points of Chuck’s sporty wagon, so a 5.3 LS1 replaced the 350 small-block between the new CBR subframe. With the exception of the CBR LS headers and K&N filter element, it’s a bone-stock mill that breathes a new life into the vintage breadbox. The modest combination is good for a 13.74 at 99 mph in the quarter-mile. It’s not earth shattering by any means, but it’s a fun ride that’s years away from the car’s previous incarnation. And with the addition of the 4L60E transmission, Chuck has no problem taking the family out for long, trouble-free drives while pulling down about 24 mpg on the highway.
If a wagon isn’t considered “sleeper” enough by default, Chuck stuck with the “as is” paintjob as a means to keep what lies under the hood and chassis a stealthy element of surprise. He uses a confident tone as he refers to the finish as “mildly patina’d.”
“I like it when people pull up next to me, especially the tuner guys, and have to take a second look, or roll down their window just to make sure that rumble they are hearing is coming from this little Nova wagon,” Chuck remarks. “So having the weathered paint just keeps the façade going.”
Although the exterior is lacking a show car finish, Chuck wanted a clean working environment, so in went an interior redo with a Classic Nova Performance interior kit. He even kept the bench seat and classic steering wheel to continue on with the vintage theme. And with the original wiring showing its age and working on a part-time basis, an American Autowire classic update wiring kit ensures proper functionality on the electrical side. The only dead giveaway that this little classic could be hiding some performance shenanigans is the Classic Instruments gauge package.
The benefit of owning a performance suspension company is having the necessary components at the ready should an important project come up, even when said project is an inside job. Chuck started the upgrades with a new CBR rack-and-pinion conversion kit for improved steering and a 11/8-inch sway bar was introduced to control body roll. Complete CBR upper and lower control arms bolt onto the ’64-67 Nova spindles and offer a more aggressive stance and stability, while double-adjustable coilover shocks manage the ride. Out back, 185-pound multileaf springs help keep the rear planted in the corners and off the line.
Borrowing from the Camaro world, The Right Stuff Detailing bolted up a set of ’98 to ’02 F-body disc brake kits for quicker stopping and immeasurable driver confidence.
Dunlop Direzza rubber on all four corners (215X45R17 front, 235X4517 rear) wrap around Wheel Vintiques rollers (17x7 with 4.5-inch backspace up front and 17x7 with 5-inch backspace out back) and contribute to the classic wagon looking like the year it was built. CHP