LS1-powered 1966 Chevy II Nova sleeper

LS1-powered 1966 Chevy II Nova sleeper

Photographers: Steve Kelly

NEALE White’s ’66 Chevy II Nova is a ripper sleeper, as you’d scarcely believe such an original-looking body is hiding a cammed 5.7-litre LS1, six-speed manual and 12-bolt. Having owned a few Aussie V8s, Neale turned his attention to what many consider the smallest, lightest Chevy to cop a bent-eight.

This article on Neale White’s Chevy Nova was originally published in the March 2018 issue of Street Machine

“A ’64-model Chevy II was the first Nova I saw and, having had Toranas and V8 HKs, I was after something a bit smaller, but still with a V8,” says Neale. “The LS craze was happening around this time and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to mix the old and new, and I knew I wanted the LS, air con, power steer, and a 12-bolt in it.”

Neale turned to the USA to find himself a good base to start with, and managed to find what many Nova fiends regard as the holy grail for a pro touring build: a base-model 100-series two-door sedan.

“Seven years ago, I found a ’66 two-door post sedan with the right patina and colour from Oklahoma, and brought it over,” he says. “It took two years to fix it up to make it roadworthy. When I got the car from America there was a lot to do to get it ready to hit the road. Considerable time was spent upgrading the electrics for its new drivetrain.

“Funnily enough, the engine and Tremec ’box in my car is from an export Aussie GTO Pontiac, so it has done some miles going to the USA and back!” Neale continues. “My car also has a ’98 F-body Camaro sump, PCM and wiring loom. It has a GM Hot Cam in it, but it isn’t too lumpy or aggressive.”

Novas were never known for stellar handling or braking capabilities, so Neale knew to upgrade the undercarriage of his car. “The chassis connectors and gearbox crossmember are from 417 Motorsports, and they’re really nice,” he explains. “I sent them information about the Queensland engineering rules and they made them as a bolt-in piece to suit those regulations, instead of the normal weld-in type.

“The front end is a Mustang II from Jim Weimer Rod Garage in Wisconsin. It has fabricated upper and lower arms with coil-over type shocks from QA1, and it uses factory spindles, a Ford Granada disc – similar to our XB Falcon, but in Chev stud pattern – with Camaro calipers on the front end.”

Up the back is a heavy-duty Chevy 12-bolt diff with 4.11 gears and an LSD, hanging off factory-style mono-leaf springs with CalTracs bars and double-adjustable QA1 shocks.
“I ran it at the drags once, where it did a 13.6@108mph on a slow 2.6-second 60-foot. People tell me the mph equates to a mid-12, but I didn’t try much after that as I wanted to drive it home.”

Despite the work that’s gone into it, Neale says the time has come to sell the Nova.

“This is a car I wanted to keep, but I have to move it on, as I have a ’57 Chevy stepside ex-US Navy truck that had been sitting around since ’84 before I got it out of Arizona,” he explains. “I have a Magnuson-supercharged six-litre and Tremec to go in that, which was meant for the Nova originally.”

We can’t wait to see what he does with the pick-up!

Neale White


Colour: Ermine White

Type: Chevy Gen III LS1
Capacity: 5.7L
Sump: F-body
Exhaust: Twin 2.5in
ECU: F-body PCM

Gearbox: T56 six-speed
Clutch: Stock LS3
Diff: 12-bolt LSD, 4.11

Front suspension: Mustang II, tube arms, QA1 shocks
Rear suspension: Mono-leaf, CalTracs traction bars, QA1 shocks
Brakes: Ford Granada 11in discs with Camaro calipers (f), Chevelle drums (r)

Rims: ’78 Chevy Caprice 15×7 (f & r)
Rubber: 205/70 (f & r)