Can You Sell Me Your Badass ’70 Nova?
By Scotty Lachenauer – Photography by the Author
When Jeff Moyer was a kid, he brought model cars to school for show-and-tell and would peek at Hot Rod magazine during reading time. Jeff always seemed to gravitate toward Chevys, probably due to his dad’s taste. “My father’s garage included a ’64 SS and ’70 SS 454 Chevelle, a ’69 Z/28 Camaro, and a ’69 Nova L78 396. Though these were long gone before I was born, the pictures tell the story, and that Nova really did it for me,” Jeff recalls.
Jeff’s dad worked at a race shop just a block from their house, so from a young age Jeff was a “shop rat.” He’d hang out, soak in a bunch of knowledge, and later take what he learned to mold his career and personal car builds.
Once Jeff got to high school he went to Vo-Tech for automotive technology. “After my first year I did some of the vocational competitions where I won the VICA state title and got Fifth in the nation,” Jeff reminisces. “I took a job at the local Chevy dealer out of high school but hot rods and drag cars were my thing. Ultimately, I ended up at Precision Chassis in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where I’ve been since 2012.”
Boosted Nova: Ken Johnson’s 1971 Supercharged Nova
Going back some years, Jeff received a call one day from his Uncle Don Kelsch. He was curious to see if Jeff was available to check out a particular Chevy Nova for him. Being dubbed the “family mechanic” by his kin, this request wasn’t out of the ordinary as from an early age the auto aficionado had built up an ample knowledge of muscle cars and their pertinent mechanicals. “I didn’t mind helping out because the ’70 Nova was unequivocally my favorite muscle car of all time,” Jeff states.
The Chevy in question was for sale at a small lot just a few miles away from the Moyer household. When they got there, the Burnt Orange–like color instantly drew them in. It also had a nice running small-block with a four-speed, along with a hefty 12-bolt out back with 4.11 gears. It appeared to be a real Super Sport but had no documentation to prove it. The reasoning for thinking the Nova was possibly a Super Sport was because it had power disc brakes up front, a 12-bolt out back, and multi-leaf springs, along with F41 sway bars. Lastly, it had a 3/8 fuel line to feed it ample amounts of fuel.
SS or not, the twosome were impressed with what they saw. “I told Uncle Don that it was a good deal for the asking price and it was the perfect ride for him,” Jeff says. “Luckily, he ended up making a deal and took it home.”
Uncle Don drove the Nova around all summer. Jeff also got his share of seat time whenever he felt the need for speed. Once the cold weather arrived, Jeff decided to do some work on the car. The first winter they pulled the front clip and subframe and blasted it, painted the reusable parts, and rebuilt the suspension and steering. They also put a manual brake system in for stopping power. The heater was excised and a pair of traction bars made their way out back.
Rise Above: Joel Russell’s 1966 Nova
A few years later they installed a stout 355ci engine to get this Nova to really scoot. “That addition made Uncle Don very happy with the car,” Jeff says. “At that point we called it done then made a deal that if he ever wanted to sell the Nova I would get first shot at it.”
For about 10 years Uncle Don drove the Nova, still letting Jeff have his shot at piloting the ride whenever he wanted. Then one day out of the blue Uncle Don rang up Jeff and offered it to him. “There wasn’t a second thought,” Jeff says. “I immediately made it mine.”
The first year Jeff did some basic maintenance on the Nova. It received a new carpet kit, a trunk redo, a new exhaust, and some Stewart-Warner Green Line gauges. Jeff always liked Day Two cars, so he went in that direction with the car.
Jeff took the Nova to the track to see what it could do. With its iron-headed 355ci powerplant and four-speed it went 12.40 e.t. Not a bad number, to say the least. “I swapped some AFR 195s with a TH350 and an 8-inch PTC converter and the numbers dropped to 11.54 at 115. I thought these were great times for a pump gas, hydraulic flat-tappet small-block car that I could drive anywhere,” Jeff adds. “But it still wasn’t the 396 that I dreamed of having.”
Out of the Ashes: Jay and Erin Doleshale’s 1967 Pro Street Chevy II
However, change was in the air. Through his friend, Greg, Jeff obtained a 496 that had been assembled and dyno’d in 2011 for a Camaro Greg was building but never finished. “He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Jeff claims. “So, I grabbed it on the spot. The only negative is that at 13:1 compression, it needs race gas, but that’s a small price to pay to have my dream ride.”
After installing the engine, Jeff put a heater box in with some hoses running to it for the look he was after. The MSD Digital 6 and Blaster SS coil now live where the heater box would be. The stock coil was gutted, and the coil wire ran through it to help with the stock appearance. He also upgraded the fuel system with a RobbMc Performance ½-inch pickup, ½-inch line, and a Holley Billet mechanical pump.
While this was going on, Jeff disassembled the Nova’s undercarriage for paint and detailing. At that point basically everything on the Nova had been redone in one way or another. But the one constant is that catchy unknown color paintjob that Jeff gets more questions about than anything on the car.
Future plans call for some more track time. “Hopefully I’ll go fast enough to get kicked off the track for having no rollcage,” Jeff half-jokingly says. “Long-term plans call for a bigger engine that retains the stock look. Then maybe a return of the third pedal. That would make it all come together.”
Owner: Jeff Moyer, Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania
Vehicle: ’70 Nova SS
ype: Chevrolet big-block
Block: Stock 454ci block
Displacement: 496 ci
Compression Ratio: 13.5:1
Bore: 4.310 inches
Stroke: 4.25 inches
Cylinder Heads: ’71 LS6 026 iron
Rotating Assembly: Eagle forged crank and rods, JE pistons
Valvetrain: Yella Terra shaft rockers, Manley Nextek springs, Manley valves, and pushrods
Camshaft: Custom grind, solid roller
Induction: Quick Fuel 850-cfm carburetor, ported factory winters aluminum intake, Holley 170-gph Billet mechanical pump
Ignition: MSD Pro Billet distributor, MSD Digital 6 box, and MSD Blaster coil
Exhaust: Hedman Hedders 2-inch headers, custom 3-inch exhaust, Flowmaster Super 40 mufflers
Output (at crank): 636 hp at 6,900 rpm, 539 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm
Transmission: TH350 by Kenny Keith
Rear Axle: GM 12-bolt with Moroso Brute Strength posi, Yukon axles, 4.11 gears
Front Suspension: Stock rebuilt with Lakewood 90/10 shocks
Rear Suspension: Multi leaf springs, Lakewood slapper bars
Brakes: Rebuilt stock disc/drum converter to manual master cylinder
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: American Racing Torq Thrust 15×6 front, Wheel Vintiques 15×8 rally rear
Tires: Kenda 205/70-R15 front, Mickey Thompson 275/60R15 Pro Radial rear
Seats: Stock bench
Dash: Stock with Sun tach and Stewart-Warner Green Line gauges
Paint By: N/A
Hood: AMD steel cowl