Damien Boyce’s home-built seven-second Chev Nova

One of the nicest cars on the radial scene, Damien Boyce’s seven-second Chevy Nova is a home-brewed deal THAT’S as tough as teak

Photographers: Steve Kelly, Dave Reid

Queenslander Damien Boyce is just your regular kinda dude; he loves his car and works as a train guard when he’s not swinging spanners in the shed. He has, however, always wanted to build the ultimate bad-arse ride that would melt treads and turn heads.

First published in the January 2023 issue of Street Machine

A few years back, he stepped into the turbo world when he fitted a Barra into his XT Fairmont (Sleepers, SM, May ’17). It was a lot of fun and ended up running well into the 10s in street trim. Damien and the XT even successfully completed two Drag Challenge Weekend campaigns in 2018 and 2019, but he wanted more.

“As time went on, I decided I wanted to step it up,” Damien recalls. “I found a 1967 Nova locally. The seller had bought the car five years earlier, done nothing with it and lost interest.

“It was a full tube-chassis deal that was flat black on a rough body, and had a 14/71 pump on a big-block Chev. It was your typical USA-built car with a great chassis and terrible wiring. It had been built as a streeter with power windows, big stereo, full interior and big-arse tyres, but was never finished right.”

Initially, Damien was hoping just to get the car up and running and see if he could get it into the eights. The previous owner really didn’t know much about the engine, so it was a bit of a mystery bag.

The motor was an electronically injected 540-cube affair, so they added some fuel, checked the oil and headed off to the dyno at Hi-Torque Performance with Ash Mason.

“We were hoping to see 1000hp at the treads,” Damien says. “We figured we’d just throw fuel in it, check some things and get it running. It went lean on the first solid pull, torched the head and nicked a piston.”

Damien brought the car home, pulled it down and found that it was a pretty basic combination. “There was no turning back at this point, so I figured we’d rebuild and go again, sell the blower stuff and give turbos a run,” he says.

“All I wanted was to build something to do laps in at Powercruise, something tough [that would] make 1000hp at the treads, and keep it big-block Chev.”
With a new plan in place, Damien ditched everything but the heads. Danny Lansdowne from Spot On Performance was happy to steer the build in terms of planning, with Damien doing all the hard yards.

The new engine combination is still 540 cubes, but was assembled by Danny with quality components including a Dart Big M block and a really solid rotating assembly comprising Oliver rods, Callies crank and JE pistons. The cam is a solid-roller, and the Dart heads are from the original build.

The Edelbrock intake has been plumbed with eight 650lb Billet Atomizer injectors, with a Wilson throttlebody and elbow making the connection to the pressure side of the new turbo set-up. There is no intercooler, so the combination is set up for alcohol, with eight smart coils handling the ignition.

The rest of the fuel system consists of a 750 MagnaFuel pump and large fuel tank at the rear feeding a small front tank, which in turn feeds a cam-driven Enderle 110.

The ECU is a Holley Dominator item, tuned by Kon from Wollongong Automotive Services.

As the inner guards were long gone, it was a lot easier for Damien to fabricate the hot side. He located the big Proboost 85mm turbos up front, creating a set of forward headers with 50mm primaries into 75mm collectors. A set of second-hand 50mm Tial wastegates were added to the mix, and the turbos were solid-mounted, with all the plumbing done in mild steel.

“I probably went a bit over the top with the build for the level of performance I am looking for, but I don’t need to lean on it and it’s not running on a knife’s edge all the time,” Damien says. “I’ve been really lucky to have Danny keep an eye on me and this whole build, as I really wanted to give this a go myself.”

The transmission is a simple TH400 built by Queensland car trailer builder, Mark Stevens, who moonlights doing trans builds. There is nothing fancy about it – no clean neutral or big-name parts. It just does the job.

The single-frame-rail chassis boasts a four-link and shortened nine-inch. The car was swinging a 33×18.5 tyre initially, but now runs 315 radials. Aside from the fibreglass bars, boot and bonnet, the car is all steel and glass, weighing in at 3280lb in track trim.

Damien recently added a Race Products floater kit to the diff, and the centre section is a Strange case with 3.7:1 gears and Strange single-action shocks.

With just a couple of passes under its belt, the car had already run 1.19 in the 60-foot – not bad for a set of 15-year-old single-action shocks.