While there are always a number of stunners lining up for a week’s torture at Drag Challenge, the rough-and-tumble, DIY, get-shit-done machines also tickle our fancy, and Chris Imlach’s twin-turbo LS-powered 1962 Chevy Nova is a prime example. “It was never meant to be this fast,” Chris admits. “It started completely stock and has just constantly evolved from there.”
The Nova came into Chris’s life as a last-minute auction purchase from eBay. “I was on a flight, so I told my mate to bid on it and win it for me no matter what,” he says. “I wanted an HQ Monaro but couldn’t afford one at the time, and a Nova was second on my list, so we went for it.”
A plumber by day, Chris built the whole car himself, keeping it simple and straight-to-the-point. “I don’t always like to say it’s a budget build, because there are expensive parts on the car, but what I haven’t done is spend any money on fancy shit you don’t need,” he says. “A good example of that is the turbos. They’re the cheapest eBay ones I could get, but they’ve been running strong for five years, so massive shout-out to them!”
The Nova ran a twin-turbo small-block Chev for years, before Chris’s temptation got the better of him with the 5.3 iron-block LS he had waiting for his HQ. “The problem with having the ability to build cars like this yourself is you get carried away. I never had intentions of going LS until the engine was in there!” he says.
Like the rest of the car, the 5.3 was given what it needed to go fast and nothing more. Chris assembled the donk, while Dandy Engines did the machine work, with the iron block copping a steel stroker crank, Molnar rods, CP pistons and a BTR Stage Three stick. The heads are still unported and are topped with a Holley Ultra Low manifold. Engine management is also Holley, and with the eBay GT3582 snails singing at 32psi, the package made 1100rwhp on the dyno at Power Management Solutions.
The rest of the driveline comprises an SFI-case Powerglide, a 3500rpm converter, and a nine-inch rear with 3.5:1 gears. “We’ve also added an Enemies Racing anti-roll bar for this year, so that should help us shorten those times down,” says Chris. The chrome-moly rollcage was also fitted by Chris, and in race trim it runs 275 Mickey Thompson radials. In Drag Challenge speak, that has had him duking it out in the Haltech Radial Blown class in his previous five DC campaigns. “I’d never even drag-raced before my first pass in Adelaide at Drag Challenge 2017, and I’d still say I’m not really a hardcore racer,” says Chris. “I like the event more for the adventure. I watched Drag Week in the States and I decided I wanted to have a go at an event like that.”
We’re yet to see how Chris and the Nova will fare at this year’s event. What we do know is that Chris has switched up to our new Pro Street Radials 8.5 index class, which’ll suit his current PB of 8.55@162mph perfectly. “I reckon we should be able to keep it in the 8.50s all week; that’s the aim for this one,” Chris says. He ran a best of 8.61 at the most recent DC event, and is hoping a bunch of small tweaks he’s made since then will see him matching his new PB at Drag Challenge 2023.
Chris will also be attempting that without a trailer– a new challenge for this year. “I’m stripping the stuff I carry down to the bare essentials for this one, so if it doesn’t fit between the doors, it isn’t coming!” he says. “We’ll do the road route on the race tyres, and I want to see if it’s possible to do it without a trailer or roof rack, plus I’ll likely be in the car on my own this year.”
We can’t wait to see the Nova in action at Drag Challenge 2023 – it should be a ripper!
1962 CHEVROLET NOVA
|Class:||PSR 8.5 Radial Blown|
|Brand:||360ci iron-block LS|
|Induction:||Holley Ultra Low|
|Camshaft:||BTR Stage Three|
|Converter:||Pro Converters 3500rpm|
|Diff:||9in, 31-spline, 3.5:1 gears|
|WHEELS & TYRES|
|Rims:||Rally; 15×6 (f), 15×10 (r)|
|Rubber:||M/T 275/60R15 (r)|
The PKR crew for being legends!