"Thanks to Pro-Touring.com, I found myself looking at more suspension mods," Nate says. Under the unassuming skin of this Nova, he has installed some serious handling components. The old 12-bolt now sports 3.42 gears and Calvert Racing split monoleaf springs. Up front, a Savitske Classic and Custom Stage 2 frontend kit keeps the front planted during hard turns. Stance is helped out by a set of Hotchkis 2-inch drop springs that have been cut to provide an even larger drop. Competition Engineering subframe connectors, Hotchkis 1.25-inch antisway bars coupled with Race Car Dynamics shocks make short work of body roll.

Propelling the Nova is that previously mentioned Yukon Denali LS engine. The motor now chugs corn-based E85, which should make the fellas over at the Sierra Club happy. Nate tore down the engine and sent it off to TPIS of Chaska to complete the machine work. He then picked up the line-honed and balanced parts and went to work building his 370ci LS motor. The recycled GM crankshaft was tied to Scat forged connecting rods and Manley forged, dished pistons. The compression ratio was left at a conservative 9.0:1 to better handle the turbo boost pressure. The camshaft is from a '02 LS6 Corvette engine and the heads come from the original Denali 6.0L motor. Those stock heads get help from COMP Cams 918 Beehive springs and chromoly pushrods.

"After scouring the LS1Tech.com forums, I decided that I wanted a turbo," Nate says. With that thought, he began making his own custom turbo setup. "I saw lots of fourth-gen Camaro guys making big power for cheap, and I wanted in! Lots of chop saw blades and MIG wire spools later, I had a homebuilt turbo kit on the 6.0L," Nate says. He makes it all sound so easy, doesn't he? Just burn through a bunch of tools and you've got a turbo car that runs 10.70s at 131 mph in the quarter. Simple. The reality is that Nate had to scour the net to find just the right mandrel bends to create the perfect angles to feed the power-hungry Master Power GT45 turbo. This creation of homemade ingenuity adds up to a very potent recipe of 603 hp at 5,800 rpm and 573 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. Nate says: "The total cost of the turbo was about $2,000, and when it made the power it did, I knew I made the right choice." Another added custom touch that Nate had to create out of necessity was the crankcase breather and PCV setup. He had to fabricate canisters out of PVC piping and route -6AN braided lines to make it all work nicely.

Coping with all that rotating madness is a GM 4L80E transmission out of the donor '01 Denali. In keeping with the modest theme, Nate made sure that he was able to use the stock column shift that came with the Nova originally. A 3,600-stall comes from a Yank-sourced PY3600 single-disc converter. The trans cooler is hidden well out of sight behind the rearend, and is aided with a cooling fan.

"Late in the build I had a new challenge: kids," Nate says. "My wife and I were thinking about it, and I knew that this car would be a family affair. It had a rollcage, and that could be a problem. So I installed child seat anchors and decided to keep the bench seat to ease getting the new little one in and out of the back seat. Little Cora is 3 months old, and she enjoys riding in the car. It puts her right to sleep. It makes me feel good that my 10-second car doesn't have to be a two-seater Sunday queen."

Building this car has also inspired Nate to do something else. He quit his job at the dealership and is now a stay-at-home dad who works part time on customers' hot rod projects in his home garage. "It's always something I wanted to do, and it's every car guy's dream," Nate says.

A few days after we shot this, Nate took the Nova to the local autocross and killed a few cones. He ended up Third overall in the event, beating out more modern and purpose-built cars. Nate has truly produced a Nova that can do it all: turn, burn, and cruise in traffic. In eight short years of the restoration, Nate went from a $400 beater, to tire-shredding, corner-carving pavement eater, all while saving the planet sipping corn ethanol!