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Classic Performance Products

Builds The Ultimate 1970 Chevy Nova

By Mike Harrington

Called the Bionic Camaro? It was about a Camaro that received a full TCI chassis upgrade. It appears that the folks at TCI (Total Cost Involved) refuse to rest on their laurels and are swinging their bats at a whole new pinata. This time their efforts are focused on the '68-72 Nova suspension. On a personal note, these third- or second-gen Novas (whatever term you prefer) are some of the sharpest looking musclecars when they are done right.

This particular 1970 Nova has just been reworked and reborn into an amazing street machine (more on that later).

Prior to the rebuild we gave it a bare-knuckle beat-down at the California Speedway to see how the OE suspension would handle the violence. It wasn't pretty, but It was fun to watch. And we do have humbers, Since this is a two-part install, we will have the results in our next issue when the rear clip is installed. Why should the first-gen Camaros get all the glory when it comes to upgrades and cornering ability after the upgrades? The '68-72 Novas look nearly identical when you lift up their skirts and stare at their undersides. The advantages of removing the burdensome OE steel clip and replacing it with a mandrel-bent tubular clip include improved performance and less weight. The performance gain is in the double-rail tubing, coilover shocks and improved steering geometry-and the loss of 120 pounds in the front does not go unnoticed either. The engine mounts in this clip will readily accept a host of Chevrolet mills (is there any other type worth mentioning?), including small-block, big-block and LS1, -2 and -7 power. Urethane bushings come standard with the tubular upper and lower A-arms, along with 2-inch drop spindles, new manual rack-and-plnion gear, 11-inch GM disc brakes, billet aluminum adjustable shocks with black powdercoated springs,sway bar, and a bolt-in multi-position transmission cross member. If bling is your thing, you can upgrade to the shiny stuff. Give TCI a holler to see what options they have available.

1..The install of the new clip and its suspension is perhaps the easiest, and least time consuming, part of this entire process. The engine, transmission, radiator and steering column all have to be removed. The bumper too.

2..Four bolts later the OE clip is forever separated from this '70 Nova. Don't throw it away, you might make a couple dollars off of it at a swap meet.

3..In all its bare-metal glory, this is what the new subframe looks like. It bolts into all the stock locations, and so no cutting or hacking into the body is required. The only things that needed work were the access holes on the lower firewall and some 'a-inch holes drilled for mounting it to the body. The flange needs to be ground down an-inch, so the new clip can be flush-mounted against the firewall. When the clip is shipped, it arrives in bare metal. Powdercoating or painting is up the owner.

4..A rear view looking forward. It's easy to see the body-mount locations and engine support and mounts from this view.

5..Now were talking! The clip is back from the powdercoater and is dressed in tuxedo black, gloss of course. Now the fun can begin.

6..A little touch-up paint solves the problem that the grinder may have caused on the fire wall. No worries here.

7..You can see why we needed to grind down that small section of the fire wall. As you can see, the new clip  bolts right into the stock locations, and the support brackets fit flat up against the fire wall.

8..Here's our launch pad, we're ready to begin. Not a spec of dirt or road grime can be found on this Nova ... yet.

9..The rack-and-pinion along with the tie-rods are next. If it makes it easier, the rack-and-pinion can be bench installed for better alignment.

10..The upper and lower control arms are next, along with the Wilwood 13-inch rotors and Wilwood 6-piston calipers. The chromed A-arms are an upgradeable option, as are the monster Wilwood brakes.

11..Bushings and bolts. All the hardware is supplied, so making trip after trip to the local auto parts store should not be a concern. Besides all this, TCI has one of the best set of assembly instructions any installer could want. Every step is photographed and illustrated, making life easy-even for the simpleminded, like yours truly.

12..Billet coilover shocks are standard with each clip assembly. Chromed springs? Well, those will cost a littleextra .

13..Ride height adjustability, as well as rebound and compression control come standard on these shocks.

14..Like we mentioned earlier, installing the components is the easy part. The upper arms, calipers and rotors are all that is left, and, for what it's worth, we're done.

15..As the saying goes, chrome won't get you home. But it sure looks cool when you get there, even if it is underneath the car. Chromed sway bars? Yup, it's another optional upgrade.

16..When the front clip was fully assembled, it was once again removed from the vehicle. This time around the engine and transmission found their way into the mix, and all pieces came together at once. It took a bit of work to get it all in there. Brake lines had to be replumbed and rerouted.

17..After a few days work it all came together. Pictures make it look so easy. It really is easy, it just takes time. Take a look at it now. This Nova is starting to look like a work of art. In our follow-up article we will have proof-positive numbers along with the rear install next.