Although custom driving lights weren’t in the original rendering, Mike felt that they would perfectly complement the Trans-Am motif. “I have always loved the driving lights on Mach 1 Mustangs, and thought it would look great on the Nova. If the lights are too far apart or too close together, they can ruin the look of the car, so I spent plenty of time mocking everything up,” he says. After finalizing the position of the lights, he cut openings into the grille and bumper fill panel, built custom support brackets, then installed the rings. The next item on the agenda was making the windshield look authentically racy. “Flush-fitting the stock glass or opting for Lexan was way too expensive. Instead, I blacked out the stock windshield moldings so you can’t see them, then installed custom hold-down tabs around the glass. They’re not functional, but since I’m still running the stock windshield, they don’t have to be functional.”

In an effort to optimize driveability and keep costs down, Mike took a simplistic approach to the powertrain. Under the cowl hood lives a 350ci small-block Chevy that started out as a Chevrolet Performance crate short-block. To it, Mike bolted a set of iron Vortec heads, a Jegs dual-plane intake manifold, and a Holley 750-cfm carb. A mild 218/224-at-.050 COMP flat-tappet cam bumps the valves open, and gives the Nova enough lope to match its intimidating aesthetics. Although the motor has never been dyno’d, Mike’s 425hp estimate seems entirely reasonable. The mild small-block drives like a baby, and sends its torque back to a GM TH350 three-speed automatic and an 8.5-inch 10-bolt rearend. “Everyone wants an LS motor, I get it, but it’s just not the right fit for this kind of car. By keeping the motor and trans simple, the driveabilty is great,” he reports.

Despite the Nova’s delicious vintage race car flavor, Mike knows that it won’t win everyone over. “This is a car that will piss a lot of people off because it’s different. People will say that it’s fake or call it a poser, but I don’t care what anyone says,” he admits. “I built it the way I did because it was the only way I could afford to execute my vision for this car on a tight budget. You don’t need a lot of money to build a nice car. All you need is some time, talent, and help from your friends. You don’t have to be a welder or fabricator, either. Just have fun with what you’re doing and spend your money wisely. I cut grass for a living, so if I can do it, anyone can do it.”

Regardless of whether or not you like the Nova, it spits in the face of whiners who claim that rich guys are ruining the hobby. As someone who cuts grass for a living, Mike knows that you don’t need to be a rich guy living in a professionally landscaped mansion to have some fun. His Nova is rolling proof that the guy doing the landscaping at that mansion can have some fun, too.

1972 Chevy Nova

Mike Cosculluela, 49 • Englewood, OH
Type: Chevy 350ci small-block
Block: factory 4.000-inch bore, iron
Oiling: stock pump and pan
Rotating assembly: GM cast iron 3.480-inch crankshaft, connecting rods, and 9.5:1 pistons
Cylinder heads: Chevrolet Performance Vortec iron castings with 64cc chambers
Camshaft: COMP Cams 218/224-at-.050 hydraulic flat-tappet; .462/.469-inch lift; 110-degree LSA
Valvetrain: COMP Cams lifters, pushrods, timing set, valvesprings, and retainers
Induction: Jegs dual-plane intake manifold, Holley 750-cfm carb
Ignition: stock distributor, coil, and plug wires
Exhaust: Dynomax 1.75-inch long-tube headers, custom side pipes
Transmission: GM TH350 trans and 1,500-stall converter
Rear axle: GM 10-bolt rearend with 3.90:1 gears and limited-slip differential
Front suspension: RideTech StrongArm control arms, adjustable shocks, and air springs; Global West sway bar
Rear suspension: stock leaf springs, KYB shocks, Global West sway bar
Brakes: Wilwood Dynalite disc brakes, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Aero Race 58 Series; 15x8 (front), 15x10 (rear)
Tires: Hoosier 275/50R15 (front), 325/50R15 (rear)

Where the Money Went
1972 Chevy Nova$1,500
Paint & body:$9,000
Crate short-block:$1,300
Cylinder heads:$600
Intake manifold:$120
Plug wires:$80
Headers:$50 (used)
Mufflers/exhaust:$50 (used)
Torque converter:$150
Roll bar:$180
Wilwood brakes$500
Front suspension:$1,400
Custom rollbar:$800
Fuel system:$175
Wheels & tires:$1,300
Gauges:$200 (used)
Billet vents:$700