Not only do LS7s make tons of power, but they also boast dry-sump oiling. This is perfect
Since the supply of muscle cars is quite lacking in Kuwait, Jeff found a clean ’67 Chevy II in the States that he planned on shipping over immediately after purchase. The car had been nicely restored, complete with a 350 small-block matched to a TH350 trans, perfect for some leisurely cruising. That plan quickly changed when Jason’s buddy showed up at his house one day with a brand-new Corvette Z06. After a quick romp around the block, he fell in love with the LS7 engine. “I bought an LS7 crate motor on eBay, and then sent it to Schwartz Performance. They did some headwork, installed a bigger cam, and got 650 hp out of it,” Jason says. “I figured that if I was going to put that kind of motor into the Nova, then it only made sense to bolt a Tremec six-speed manual trans behind it. From there, the project got way out of control. I told Schwartz that it would be cool as hell to build a muscle car that could turn and stop like a modern performance car. All the muscle cars I’ve owned were fun to drive at the dragstrip, but they sucked on the street because they didn’t handle well.”
Fortunately, Schwartz Performance just happened to have the perfect solution for the Nova’s diverse needs. The Schwartz crew removed the Nova’s stock suspension, and bolted one of its g-Machine chassis in place. This trick piece of engineering essentially converts a unibody Chevy II into a full-frame car without the need to cut or weld anything. In addition to dramatically stiffening up the chassis, the setup includes tubular control arms, spindles, and a heavy-duty splined sway bar up front. Out back, a Schwartz four-link suspension replaces the old stock leaf springs, and RideTech coilovers man each corner of the car. Stopping power comes courtesy of 13-inch Wilwood discs, with six-piston clamps in the front and four-piston units in the rear. Sticking it all to the pavement are BFGoodrich KDW2 tires that wrap around Forgeline ZX3P 18-inch wheels. Schwartz Performance has built quite a few high-end Pro Touring rides in its day, and it tapped into that experience to achieve a perfect 50/50 weight distribution with the Nova.
Speaking of weight, there isn’t much of it. Throw an all-aluminum engine in a tiny Chevy II, and the result is a car that weighs just 3,000 pounds. Before shipping the car back to Kuwait, Schwartz Performance owner Jeff Schwartz gave it a proper beat down. As a former IMSA road racer, Schwartz’s got plenty of game behind the wheel, which came in handy when dialing in the suspension at the track. At the inaugural Heidts Performance Car Challenge last summer—an event that pits competitors against each other on a road course, autocross, and braking test—the Chevy II finished Fourth overall. Likewise, the Nova has run an 11.29 at 124 mph at the dragstrip. Needless to say, not only does Jason’s Chevy II look hot, it flat-out works in the real world as well. “My goal was to build a car that I could road race, drag race, and cruise in, and the Nova can do it all,” Jason justifiably boasts.
The Nova’s body mods are limited to a cowl-induction hood, and a custom front spoiler. The
The sweet part about this story is that Jason now has a badass muscle car that can run with exotic cars down the proverbial dark desert highways of the Middle East. “The street racing scene here in Kuwait is just insane. My friends have Ferrari 599s, Lamborghini Murcielagos, Nissan GT-Rs, and Porsche 911 Turbos,” Jason says. “We go out in the middle of nowhere all the time and run them. The cops out here don’t even care. They just sit there on the side of the road and watch you blow by. I did get pulled over once, but all the cop did was ask me how much I wanted for my car. There are no racetracks in Kuwait, so street racing is the only option here.”