Drivetrain

Ryan founded this engine on a humble production 400ci Chevrolet cylinder case to yield 406 ci (4.155x3.75). Longtime friend Mike at QMP Racing Engines in Chatsworth, California, began the build with some real hard parts. He calmed the 14:1 with custom Ross 8.5:1 turbo flat-tops so that he could build monster cylinder pressure and summarily contain it. The pistons swing on Oliver billet connecting rods that arc on one of Raul Negrete’s legendary (but sadly no longer available) Cola crankshafts. As testimony, Ryan has used “Old Faithful” for more than 12 years without incident. When you ask a racer about the cam specs he’s likely to shut up tighter than a Pismo clam or just say “nunya.” Ryan’s motor’s got a QMP custom ground solid-roller that is in the block with Jesel beltdriven timing gear. A race-bred Stef’s 6-quart aluminum oil pan closes up the bottom. The valvetrain is an eclectic assembly featuring Manton pushrods, a Crower 1.7:1 shaft rocker arm assembly, and more. The Dart 23-degree 220 aluminum cylinder heads include 2.08/1.60 valves in 72cc combustion chambers, BIG (as per Ryan) springs, and complete CNC porting. For the induction solution, QMP tailored the 406 with a Brodix intake modified for use with EFI. The injectors are rated at 160 psi and the 90mm throttle body is attached to a fabricated 90 degrees. Josh Deeds (Deeds Performance, Chatsworth, California) built the headers, installed Precision Turbo & Engine (Hebron, Indiana) 72mm turbochargers, and ran the cold-side plumbing for the PT3000 air-to-water intercooler inside the Nova’s little body. Deeds also tunes the Big Stuff 3 fuel injection at the track and in the dyno room. A programmable MSD 7531 Digital-7 Plus provides the lightning bolts. In the dyno cell, the 406 ripped a monumental number: 1,640 hp at 7,300 rpm and 1,320 lb-ft of grunt at 5,500 rpm. Torque is managed by a Mike’s Transmission Powerglide fitted with a 1.80:1 low gear ratio, a 10-inch Neal Chance 4,000-stall speed converter, and Deeds custom water-to-fluid cooler. Big grunt requires an even bigger rear axle. Jaime at Fab-Tech Welding in Chatsworth braced and custom-built the narrowed (4 inches per side) Strange Engineering 9-inch that houses a Mark Williams spool, 3.50:1 gears, and 40-spline axleshafts.

Chassis

Briefly, the chassis modifications performed by “Fab-Tech” Jaime included mini-tubs, ladder bar coilover rear suspension, the 25.3 chromoly rollcage, and the installation of the AJE chromoly strut frontend. “We cut out the mild-steel 8.50 tubes and Jaime built the 6.50 ’cage so that the car would be ready for more power down the road,” Ryan says. “We ended up doing more work than anticipated, but now I won’t have to upgrade anything for a very long time.” With the superstructure, AJE also provided the wishbones and complete coilover struts. At the nether end of the car are AFCO Big Gun coilovers. A Flaming River manual rack directs the AFCO spindles.

Rollers

Naturally, a thought-out racer like Ryan’s carries as little unsprung weight as possible and that includes the compact but tenacious Aerospace Components front and rear disc brake packages that incorporate four-piston calipers over 11.4-inch plates. And, there’s that bunch of laundry under the wing if all else fails. The rollers are pricey (for a drag race wheel) but lightweight forgings. Contemporary Weld V Series 15x4 and 15x10 drag wheel are capped with Mickey Thompson 26x4.5 ET front and 275/60 ET Street Radial tires.

Digs

The Nova only needs the stuff that helps to maintain it as a race car so let’s call it race car primal. Ryan wired the shoebox anew and chose an ARC switch panel to accommodate. A custom carbon-fiber cluster presents Auto Meter gauges. Another custom-built panel locates the critical items: RacePak data-logger, the Big Stuff 3, and MSD controls. Ryan also included a Kirkey race seat, a Grant steering wheel, a custom harness, and a B&M Pro Stick shifter.

Exterior

The Red Toaster is a race car and race cars always get rash, so its body hasn’t been fussed over to look like something it isn’t. It’s straight and clean. Lou’s Performance in San Fernando repaired the quarters, finessed the fiberglass bumpers, attached the big-scoop bonnet, swapped some of the sheetmetal for lightweight replicas, and painted it DuPont Toaster Red. Really. CHP