Hot Tamale:
The 1970 Nova

After Nick Hall's parents welcomed him into the world 33 years ago, they drove him home from the hospital in a 1978 Trans Am. While that would barely qualify as an interesting story in America, the fact that this went down in England makes it quite amusing to say the least. After all, we doubt many American infants from that era went home from the delivery room in an MG or a Triumph. Needless to say, Nick was destined to be an Englishman who loved Detroit iron from birth. Having wrenched on muscle cars his entire life, he's definitely lived up to expectations. Today, that love affair has materialized in the form of an LS2-powered 1970 Nova packed to the brim with a five-speed stick, a four-link suspension, and big brakes and tires. Mum and dad would be proud.

For outsiders looking in, the Hall family's obsession with American muscle cars seems very odd. "My friends always wondered why anyone would want an old American car, and they asked why you'd buy an old car that needed work when you could have a new car that ran reliably. New cars are splendid for driving every day but they're also very boring, so it's nice to get into a muscle car on weekends that has a lot of character and power," Nick opines. The younger Hall brother says his uncle is the guy who got everyone hooked. "My uncle started out with a Pinto, and over the years he owned a second-gen Camaro, a Cobra Jet 428 Mustang, and a Boss 429 Mustang. He drag raced them frequently, and that got my parents interested in muscle cars. They bought a 1978 Trans Am after watching Smoky and the Bandit, and in later years they owned a 1982 Trans Am and a 1988 Trans Am GTA. During a trip to Texas, they picked up a 1997 Formula WS6 and brought it back home to England, and then when they moved to America, they shipped it across the ocean again."

Without question, the Halls take their muscle cars seriously. Nonetheless, Nick had to work his way up the ranks from humble beginnings. His first car was a hand-me-down Ford Fiesta, followed by a 1.3L Vauxhall Astra van. Although he took the 1988 GTA out cruising and to shows on weekends, he was too busy helping restore brother Chris's 1968 Firebird to take on a project of his own. Seduced by the prospect of trading in the gloomy UK skies for a sunny-and-toasty desert lifestyle, he made the move to Arizona six years ago. The Phoenix area just happens to be a hot bed of muscle car activity, which most certainly factored into his decision.

Now the search for a hot rod was on. Having gone from a muscle car vacuum to a muscle car mecca, Nick was in heaven. Even so, with the lessons learned from lending a hand in his brother's Firebird project, Nick didn't care to take on another grueling ground-up restoration. He wanted to lay patch right away. "After a long but casual search, I found a 1967 Camaro that already had an LS1 and a six-speed transmission. Two months later, I found an even nicer '70 Nova for sale online, so I sold the Camaro to pay for it," he recalls. "The Nova was mostly complete, but somewhat of an unfinished project. It needed a headliner, new seats, and a lot of miscellaneous bits and bobs. The gearbox had been faceplated by Liberty's Gears, which shifted very nicely but was way too noisy. I took out the trans and installed some carbon-fiber synchronizers, and now it's much more pleasant inside the car. The crank pulley also decided to work its way off right after I bought the car, so I made the appropriate repairs to tighten it back down."

Powering the X-body is a mostly stock LS2 small-block. It has been enhanced with a Lunati 237/242-at-.050 hydraulic roller camshaft, Stainless Works headers, and a FAST intake manifold and throttle body. Power is channeled through a Tremec TKO600 five-speed manual before making its way back to a Moser 9-inch rearend. As a man raised around tight and winding roads, Nick demands a chassis capable of carving tidy arcs around bends, and the Nova's suspension hasn't let him down. Up front are Speed Tech control arms matched with QA1 coilovers and a Hellwig sway bar. Out back, the leaf springs have been replaced with a Chassisworks four-link and VariShock coilovers. Intro 18-inch wheels wrapped in Nitto NT05 tires provide the stick, and stopping power comes courtesy of C5 Corvette clamps.

Despite his long family history with Pontiacs, the other Halls welcomed Nick's Chevy with open arms. "Pontiacs were the theme back home, and my family has owned lots of Firebirds over the years. We were members of the Pontiac Club of the UK, and we even printed the newsletters for the club," Nick says. "Although we have a long track record of Pontiacs, my family loves all American muscle cars and no one has any issues with me driving a Nova. It's great having an old muscle car that can keep up with newer cars in the corners and on the freeway, and everyone can appreciate that. I plan on continuing to go on cruises and shows in the Nova, and I love driving it hard in the Goodguys autocross."