On the Same Page (part 3 of 3) 1966 Chevy Nova Gasser
Article and photography by Richard Butschi
(Parts 1 and 2, and other previous articles,
can be viewed at www.cityrevealed.com.)
We left off with a second “toy” being added to Archie Faulkner and Diana Schumacher’s garage in Center Point. Arch’s ‘32 Ford Roadster got a companion – Diana’s ‘55 3100 Chevy pickup. Now Mama and Papa are satisfied – right? Oh, to the contrary...
In 2016, Arch and Diana spotted a ‘55 Chevy gasser at the Vinton Cruise. The typical raised front end and straight axle didn’t seem to trip Diana’s trigger, at that time, but later at the national drag races at Indianapolis, things changed. Watching about a half dozen of those screamers heading down the track gave them both an itch they had to scratch. So it was off to the computer where they found a nice ‘66 Nova in Mitchell, IN. It had all the basics, but the owner was overly proud of it and wouldn’t budge on the price. The itch subsided for several weeks, but came back when they revisited the Nova site where the owner was now trying to sell the gasser along with a very nice ‘67 Camaro. Archie hadn’t identified himself with the first contact of the owner, so he enquired about splitting the pair and the owner agreed. This time Arch and Diana decided to make a trip to Indiana to see it firsthand. After a 9-hour trek in hard rain, they arrived “in the sticks”, with narrow roads snaking almost to Kentucky. The deal was finally made, but Arch and Diana decided to let Reliable Carriers negotiate the narrow roads and haul it to Iowa. As Faulkner put it, “the love affair then began in the garage”.
Archie didn’t waste much time getting to the heart of the matter - the engine compartment. The original owner had grenaded a 525 hp, supercharged 427 big block while making an 8-second pass on the track. He wisely replaced it with an LSX 427. The gasser started and ran when purchased, but the wiring was a “nightmare” with old toggle switches and an outdated GM ignition system. Archie replaced it with an MSD racing system and MSD plug wires. He also added a GPS speedometer and new oxygen sensors which enhanced the Holley Pro-Injection fuel system that he reprogrammed. The dashboard features a “self-learning” computer tablet where Faulkner can tune individual cylinders. After “degreeing” the cam and working on the cylinder heads, the engine now makes about 725 hp at the rear wheels. It has no problem doing “wheelies” with a fully welded frame and QA1 shocks, along with ladder and wheelie bars. The transmission is a drag-racing 700R-4, with standard-patterned valve body and 2500 stall converter, connected to a 9” Moser rearend with 4.11 gears. Since Archie works part-time with the National Hot Rod Association, the fuel cell is NHRA certified with a foam mat that keeps fuel flowing in spite of high g-force situations. “It’s not just for show,” states Faulkner.
Premier Auto, of North Liberty, did the body work, following Archie’s design for a one-piece, forward- tilting scooped hood and fenders. They also did work on the grille, added a steel rear deck and new window trim. Arch and Diana had Hugh Hoffman, of Mt. Vernon, do the graphics and plan to have him add painted replicas of the manufacturers’ “stickers” that typically adorn the fenders of gassers. Tires are 29” diameter by 16.5” wide Mickey Thompson 15” cheater slicks, but they want to increase those specs to “fill up the wheel wells”.
The garage is now full, but who knows when the itch will strike again. Archie and Diana will keep busy with upgrading, cleaning and polishing the trio of toys, along with 4 Harleys – 2 each. Diana also has a new position as Northeast Rep for the Iowa Street Rod Association, which will keep her busy. And as surely as spring follows winter, you will no doubtedly spot “A&D” at area car shows, although with 3 rides and 2 drivers, uh.... I think I know someone who can help ‘em out with that problem!