It all started when Bret Voelkel, president of Air Ride Technologies, came to Goodguys with the idea of the Street Challenge autocross. The idea: practice what you preach, and wring what you bring. Goodguys was initially hesitant to pursue this idea, so in 2008, Bret offered to set up, fund, and run the first Street Challenge event in Nashville. If Goodguys didn't like the outcome, Bret would never hassle them about it again. If they liked it, Air Ride would continue to run the events on a regular, official basis. Needless to say, the response was overwhelming.
The Street Challenge autocross was a tremendous success, and as a result, Goodguys asked Air Ride to build a top-notch giveaway car. Who better to build it, they reasoned, than the company who established Goodguys' performance persona? The giveaway car needed to have a pedigree, and it needed to be tested tough-not at all like giveaway cars of past years. Last year's '70 Chevelle giveaway car-also built by Air Ride-was just the start of this new philosophy. That first Chevelle racked up over 9,000 miles from driving to shows all over the country, and running autocross and open-track events. The current '70 Nova giveaway car-dubbed Super Nova-raises this bar substantially.
Rewind to seven years ago, when Bret opened the doors of Precision Coachworks, a custom car shop that employs some of the best paint and body guys in the country. Precision is entirely responsible for building and maintaining the large fleet of vehicles in the Air Ride stable, and as with the Chevelle, Precision Coachworks built this '70 Nova. Ty Hauer, fleet manager, gets to accompany the Super Nova to shows, where anyone can sign a waiver and get a ride in the giveaway car: "It's so great to see the younger crowd take such interest in muscle cars. For a while, I was afraid the hobby would die off with our generation. Letting people experience the Chevelle and the Super Nova has put those fears at bay."
There's no doubt the Nova is a crowd pleaser, and it didn't just happen by accident. The concept of the car was to have something that takes advantage of off-the-shelf parts, that's fun to drive, and that's comfortable at the same time. This meant it would need to change roles between long-haul cruiser and autocross monster without too much trouble.
One of Air Ride's new products, the TigerCage, was put into Super Nova. Before now, there's been a lack of a truly bolt-in aftermarket cage for muscle cars. We've seen cage kits that bolt to the car, but they require some sort of cutting and welding to fit the tubes together. This is where the TigerCage fills the void. It's a completely bolt-together, bolt-in kit. Each piece is hand-welded, requiring only basic hand tools and a drill to install. The Super Nova displays the kit in its brushed stainless steel finish. The cage could easily be painted before installation, but the brushed stainless flows with the black and brushed theme of the interior. Between those brushed bars reside all the necessities of modern Pro Touring cars. Leather seats, crisp and clear Auto Meter gauges, Air Ride's suspension controller, and Vintage Air's air-conditioning controller keep the car's inhabitants comfortable. It's one thing to have an extreme performance street car, but another to have one you could drive cross-country in.
The engine is as much a jewel as every other part in the car. World Products assembled the 427ci LS motor especially for the giveaway car. Named appropriately, the Warhawk isn't just your average LS-series motor. Instead of using the GM factory fuel injection, World employed a tried and true 4150-series carburetor built by AED Fuel Systems. It wasn't all back to the old school, though; they stuck with the distributorless ignition system and upgraded it with MSD coil packs. With help from top-shelf internals, this 427 LS peaks at 614 horsepower, giving the Bowler-built 4L65E automatic transmission a full plate of torque to cope with-and it all works admirably.
Air Ride's ShockWave air suspension gives the car the tuning flexibility of an adjustable coilover system, without the need for a jack, or special tools to adjust it. Just determine the pressure you need to give the car the handling and ride height you like, and save it as a preset. There are three presets in the LevelPRO system, so you can have one for the track or autocross, one for aggressive street driving, and one for a comfortable cruise mode. Air suspension has come a long way, but there still are skeptics, so Air Ride's task is to get doubters to understand what's possible-another reason to build bitchin', hard-charging cars like Super Nova. Air Ride didn't think the factory front clip could take the abuse the Super Nova would get, so they replaced it with a fabricated front clip by Chassisworks, complete with their tubular control arms, and rack-and-pinion steering.
With the performance aspect nailed down, the real challenge was in the style department, and Precision Coachworks got the go-ahead to let the creative juices flow. Helping them with the original high-octane concept was Air Ride's graphic designer, Scott Payton, who also penned Air Ride's Velocity '67 Camaro. Much attention went to aesthetics, and drawing the big crowd. The design incorporates modern car touches like simple graphics, shaved driprails, and flush-mounted glass.
Precision Coachworks has no problem spending extreme manpower on any part of the car where it's needed. The custom air vents, modeled after the original vents below the fender emblem, are a great example. Over 20 hours were dedicated to each one of these pieces. Likewise, the flush-mounted glass looks like it belongs there-many onlookers don't even notice it, it's integrated that well. Bumper-recessed fog lights, ghost graphics, a flush firewall, blacked-out door posts and trim, custom decklid spoiler-the list goes on.
After the car was completed, it was on its way to visit its fans across America. Like it's A-body predecessor, the Chevelle, the Super Nova will trek its way from show to show, performing as a showcase for Air Ride's suspension, and getting more and more people involved in the car show scene. The Super Nova is a win-win for Goodguys and their participants, as well as the folks at Air Ride and Precision Coachworks. And if you decide to come out to see it, or even sign up to take a ride in it, maybe you can win it, too! Hey, you never know.
Win This Car!
As if you needed any more incentive to become a Goodguys member, Super Nova provides yet another reason. Here's how you can win it. You can become a member, which enters you automatically, or register your car at a Goodguys car show. At each Goodguys show leading up to the PPG Nationals in Columbus (July 2009), a finalist is drawn at each event's Sunday show awards ceremony. The name is chosen randomly from those attending that weekend's show. At Columbus, all the finalists' names, including one Goodguys member chosen at random, are put into a bucket for the final drawing. To make things more exciting, the drawing appoints each finalist a different key. Of the 25 or so keys, only one will start the car. Super Nova will be given away July 12 at the 12th annual PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, so make sure to get your name in the hat!
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