"I built the car on a super tight budget with cheap parts that I came across. With the help of a lot of friends, I came up with a nice, fast Nova...," says Eddie Corcino. To us, this car is more important than it might seem. It's an honest representation of most readers' rides, and while they may fantasize about a billet this or a magnesium that, the truth is usually a lot heavier.
Say you're like Corcino, mid-30s with a good job, a couple of kids, and an understanding wife. You aren't going to take anything away from them for the sake of your hot rodding hobby. The idea is to do the best you can with the resources at your disposal and to maintain a just and conscionable budget. So you learn the fine points of scrounging, wheedling, wheeling/dealing, and the time-honored art of bartering. You do things methodically, tastefully, and build the most advantageous motor combination that your anorexic wallet will allow.
But best of all, you have a cadre of friends willing to leave knuckle skin and spend the rest of the night thrashing under the car if need be. Eddie Corcino's cosa nostra includes Chico Caraballo, Eric Corcino, Al Corcino, Kevin McCullough, and Rob LaRocco, and all hail from Lorain, Ohio, and environs. And let's be clear from the get go, this Nova would not have been possible for anything remotely close to 10 grand were it not for the company and strong hands of close friends and family. It took them three years to put Eddie's '71 Nova on the straight and narrow path.
Corcino: "I found an ad in a local paper for a '72 Nova in Cleveland. I gave $400 and brought most of the car home in the bed of my truck. It was beyond restoration, but I wanted a Nova so bad that I bought it anyway. I spent hours working on it but with no money, it didn't get anywhere. I decided to keep what was good and parted out the rest of the car.
"Two years later, I found another Nova, a '71 this time. It was much better than the '72. It was a great southern car that hadn't seen more than two northeastern Ohio winters. My buddy, Chico, and I spent countless nights hammering and straightening the sheetmetal." Eddie and Chico looked to the right side of the car with a new front fender and rear quarter-panel. They gave it a new taillight panel and covered the engine compartment with a Glasstek 4.5-inch cowl hood. Chico's own Paint & Body (Elyria, Ohio) applied the '71 GM Burnt Orange paint.
Then came the fun part-getting all the goodies together for a budget engine that would kick booty on nuts alone. No jones for juice. No positive manifold pressure. All engine, dudes and dudettes. Truly, Eddie is a man after our own hearts. His brother-in-law kicked things off with a complete stock 396 motor por nada. Corcino forked over $450 for a steel 454 crankshaft, a spare 396 block, and custom Ross pistons made to accommodate a 396 with a 4.00-inch stroke, thus setting the stage for a 434ci bullet. Eddie shuffled the parts to Chuck Jackson at Rick's Speed Shop (Amherst, Ohio) for the necessary machine work (bored 0.060-inch, decked block, align honed, and balanced the rotating assembly) then hurried them home.
Why build a two-bolt main bearing 396 when there's so much else available? It all came down to moolah, folks. "Because they are cheap," says Eddie. He sunk the Ross 13.0:1 pistons in bores with Total Seal ring packs and hooked them to Eagle I-beam connecting rods, then he buttoned up the bottom end with a Melling oil pump and a Moroso six-quart pan. In went the Crane roller camshaft (0.708-inch lift on both valves with 262/272 degrees duration at 0.050) and the Crane D-Roller timing chain. Eddie's imposed budget also meant that he'd have to abide an all-iron engine. "Aluminum heads are nice, but I can't afford them, so my stock open chamber oval ports will have to do." He fiddled with the castings before assembling them, porting, polishing, and blending the bowls for the 2.19/1.88 intake and exhaust valves. The valve gear is an eclectic mix of Brodix G-1000 valvesprings, titanium retainers, Crane stud girdle, COMP Cams 10-degree retainers and lash caps, stock-length Manley pushrods, stock guide plates, and ARP rocker arm studs. ARP fasteners are used throughout.
With the long-block poised, Eddie port-matched the Edelbrock 454-O intake manifold and sandwiched an HVH Super Sucker 1-inch spacer between it and the Holley 830-cfm race carb. To isolate the incoming air, he crafted an air pan from angled aluminum strips and some stock he got at Home Depot, put on a 4-inch K&N filter and sunk a substack through it to the carb's airhorn. He sumped the fuel tank, hooked up a 140-gph Holley black pump, and called it a night. In keeping with the Nova's destiny, engine accessories have been reduced to just an alternator, and the system is maintained by March V-belt pulleys.
The Nova's exhaust system is just as minimal as the rest of the car. Nothing but the essentials here: Hooker Super Comp headers with 2-inch primary pipes and 3.5-inch collectors plumbed to nasty Flowmaster muffs and turndowns that have been rotated 90 degrees so the exhaust exits to the side rather than pulsing straight down.
Big-blocks in Novas are not famous for their cool-running characteristics, so Eddie addressed the shortcomings with a Weiand water pump and a honkin' Summit aluminum core, abetted by a big thermostatically controlled Perma-Cool push-through fan. He made the mounting brackets from sheet-stock that he formed with his contractor brother's metal break. Uncharacteristically, Eddie sprung for an MSD Ignition package (6AL box, coil, distributor, start/retard and RPM switch). The iron motor tested pretty well, too. Dynamometer results were 496 lb-ft at 6,700 rpm, and 598 hp at 6,700 rpm. At the heart of it, this 3,390-pound car runs 10.90s at 123 mph.
As big-torque processors go, it's difficult to beat the Turbo-Hydro 400 for capacity and longevity. Though it was a freebie, Corcino was obliged to sink about $1,500 in a performance rebuild by Rick Cole, Sr. (Amherst, Ohio), including the 9-inch BTE 3,500 stall converter, Hurst Promatic shifter, and the B&M pan and fluid cooler. Grunt goes down the line in a (3-inch diameter x 0.083-inch wall) driveshaft from Henderson Driveline & Axles.
Since he'd lavished a lot of loot on the motor, he had to tighten up the budget a little on the suspension and chassis modifications. He'd done a rotisserie job on the body and frame, so it was easy to refurbish the stock front components (including the '70 Chevelle spindles) with Energy Suspension bushings and amend the system with Summit 90/10 drag shocks. Weld Pro Stars and 26x5 M/T Frontrunners crown the stock disc brakes. Eddie approached the business end of the car with stock mono-leaf springs but moved the shock absorber attachment point inboard to coincide with the Competition Engineering coil/over crossmember, three-way adjustable coil/over shocks, and Slide-A-Link traction bars.
To instill a suggestion of torsional rigidity, he tied both halves of the car together with Jeg's subframe connectors. As a bucks-down racer, he coped with the marginal 10-bolt by welding the tubes at the coconut and installing a stock GM Posi-traction differential with 4.11:1 gears. Deflection is inhibited by a Moser cover with carrier main studs and Moser C-clip axles spin those 26x10 M/T slicks on 8-inch-wide Weld hoops. This probably wouldn't be a viable situation if the car was governed by a clutch, but the automatic soaks up enough of the gaff to maintain the axle's structural integrity.
So you're Eddie and you're inside the orange comet. Everything looks neat but pretty stock, save for the 15-inch Grant steering wheel you got both hands around and the big AutoMeter tach hung just below it. The G-Force harness and belts are so tight you can barely breathe, much less move. The part you're sitting on is shabby chic. The upholstery on those stock seats is ripped along the seams and threadbare throughout. Foam pokes a squishy head out and looks you right in the eye. But it's still very cool, very much in the spirit of the car, the core tenets being function and utility and nothing else.
Eddie's last words: "I've got a wife and kids. If I want anything for the car, I've got to do the work myself. All I need now, Johnny, is a Popular Hot Rodding article on doing your own interior! Ha!"
|Where Did The $10K Go? |
|Before you pull out the calculator, realize that we've labeled some parts as "free" or "traded" because they are various big ticket items that we could not omit. Aside from the obvious attraction of buying used parts at a greatly reduced price, we also see that these recycled items are serving their second owner with the same performance that a new part would. Since Corcino has not reported anything untoward with the parts he bought used, that would speak directly to the quality produced by the speed equipment industry. The underlying themes here are wheeling, dealing, and slitting the throat of pride. Pride never won any damn race, but good parts will help. |
|1971 Nova || $300 |
| Rear Bumper || free |
|Glassteck Cowel Hood ||$260 |
|Competition Engineering Slide-a-Links || $350 |
|Energy suspension bushings || $180 |
|Summit 90/10 front drag shocks || $50 |
|Competition Eng. coil-over crossmember || $35 |
|Competition Eng. coil-over shocks || $90 |
|New GM mono-leaf springs || traded for a twelve pack of beer |
|Moser C-clip axles || $225 |
|Moser Performance cover and carrier main studs || $180 |
|GM 8.5-inch clutch pack || $180 |
|3 x 0.083-inch driveshaft ||$235 |
|Jeg's subframe connectors ||$100 |
|Used Weld Prostars || $400 |
|M/T Slicks ||$300 |
|M/T front runners || $120 |
|COMP Cam roller lifters ||free |
|Crane roller cam || free |
|396 Engine ||free |
|Ross 4.155 pistons & 4-inch stroke GM steel crank || $450 |
|Oval-port open-chamber heads || $800 |
|Eagle rods ||$300 |
|Moroso oil pump/pan ||$200 |
|Machine work and balancing ||$600 |
|MSD Ignition(6AL/coil/distributor/start retard/RPM switch) || $600 |
|Perma-Cool electric fan and Summit radiator || $250 |
|March V-pulleys || $160 |
|Weiand water pump ||$130 |
|BTE Converter ||$700 |
|GM TH400 ||free |
|Hurts Promatic Shifter ||$100 |
|TH400 Labor to rebuild and new B&M pan || $675 |
|Homemade air pan and K&N filter w/Stubstack ||$60 |
|Used Holley 830-cfm race carb ||$280 |
|Used Holley Black fuel pump ||$80 ||Edelbrock 454-O intake manifold ||$200 ||Used Autometer Tach ||$90 ||Mallory oil and water gauges ||$35 ||Four-point roll cage ||$300 ||PPG paint/clear "Fiat Burnt Orange" ||$475 ||Paint prep/body work ||free ||Paint booth ||free ||Professional painter ||traded 396 block/crank ||Total ||$9,560 |