Tony Causor’s ’66 Chevy II
By Nick Licata – Photography by Wes Allison
Tony Causor is the kind of guy who, like many hot rodders, took to taking apart and modifying his Hot Wheels and other toy cars at a young age. Once Tony got old enough, he began getting his hands dirty helping out working on his dad’s cars. “Growing up, I remember helping my dad work on his cars in the garage,” Tony reminisces. “The knowledge I gained from my dad eventually led to me working on my own cars.”
Tony has always wanted a classic Chevy but the cost was a bit out of reach–something he could never afford in his early twenties. He joined the military and eventually was able to save enough money to buy a ’66 Nova. He was the winning bidder of the car on an eBay auction. It was a dark maroon color with gold interior and was in running and driving condition. It included a 350ci small-block with a TH350 transmission. The paint was just OK and it was sitting at stock height and rolling on 14-inch Cragars. It was old school but not in a cool way. “I slowly built it over the years using the experience I gained from working with my dad in the garage,” Tony says. “I enjoyed it as much as I could for as long as I could, but due to reliability issues, no air conditioning, no power steering, no power anything, it just wasn’t fun to drive anymore, so it just sat for years.”
Lif003e moved forward, the car stayed put until a few years ago. Tony’s financial situation allowed him to put some money into the car and build it the right way with some modern upgrades to make the car a nice daily driver with a decent amount of punch.
“I had the opportunity to work with David and Terry Stoker on the build. They helped out with pointing me in the right direction on choosing the right parts to make the car a kick-ass street performer yet mild enough for everyday driving,” Tony says. “Those guys know their way around Novas, as I’ve seen a few of David’s cars in the past, which were a big influence on how I wanted my car built.
Power comes by way of a basic LS3 pull-out, which has been kept mostly stock with a black Holley mid-mount accessory drive kit, Holley black Chevrolet script valve covers to hide the coil packs, and a custom air intake topped with a Spectre Performance air filter. The blacked-out smoothed firewall and black custom inner fenders along with the black anodized Eddie Motorsports hood hinges make for a sanitary engine bay. The perfect execution that contributes to the Nova’s understated personality.
A TREMEC TKO 600 beefed up by Silver Sport Transmissions keeps Tony in the rpm pocket and a McLeod twin-disc clutch ensures smooth gear transitions.
For stellar handling and superb street manners, a TCI Pro Touring front clip was installed using 2-inch drop spindles and a Ridetech air-ride system. Out back resides a TCI four-link suspension system also armed with a Ridetech air-ride suspension. For excellent stopping power, Tony went with a Wilwood disc brake system with 12-inch rotors and two-piston calipers all around. Tony likes to hammer the loud pedal and feels the same way regarding the brake pedal so he forfeited the brake booster and went hard core with a Wilwood manual master cylinder. Schott Vulcan EXL wheels with gray centers and polished rims provide the Nova with modern performance and a stellar vintage presentation.
Entering the business office reveals Tony retained much of the stock components yet went with Dakota Digital RTX gauges for a vintage look with modern functionality all wired up by Stoker’s Hot Rod Factory. Also offering some modern vitality is the Alpine iLX-W650 audio system complete with JL Audio speakers and trunk-mounted subwoofer installed by Art of Sound in nearby Upland, California. The Stokers also tied in a brand-new American Autowire classic update kit to ensure the electronics function properly, like including the Vintage Air A/C system, which keeps Tony cool during the Inland Empire’s hot summer days.
Similar to the interior, the Chevy II’s exterior follows the simple vintage vibe. R&A Autobody in Montclair, California, took charge of the bodywork process and eliminated the stale, outdated hue then doused the shell in PPG Willow Green. No stripes or unnecessary gadgets distract from the car’s vintage vibe, yet the fresh take on the original GM color does an amazing job confirming Tony’s ’66 stands out among the profusion of Pro Touring–style Novas of the same era.
Tony, with the help of David and Terry Stoker, brought in just the right ingredients to give this Nova a big-dollar vibe, disguising its blue-collar budget. The car carries a clean, no-frills look with a “less is more” attitude, and why not–Tony just wanted a car with modern power, modern suspension, and a little A/C—just the right stuff to bring back the fun of driving his vintage Chevy.
Owner: Tony Causor
Vehicle: ’66 Chevy II Nova
Type: Chevrolet LS3
Displacement: 376 ci
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Bore: 4.065 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: Aluminum L92-style port with 68cc chambers
Rotating Assembly: Nodular Iron crankshaft, Powdered metal connecting rods, Hypereutectic aluminum pistons
Valvetrain: Stock GM LS3
Camshaft: GM Hydraulic roller, (0.551/0.522 lift, 204/211 deg. duration at 0.050)
Induction: Stock LS3
Exhaust: Hooker Blackheart LS swap exhaust manifolds, 2.5-inch custom exhaust, Black Widow Neighbor Haters
Ancillaries: Holley mid-mount accessory drive system, Holley two-piece LS Chevrolet script black valve covers, custom air intake, Spectre air filter, U.S. Radiator aluminum radiator, Eddie Motorsports hood hinges
Output: 439 hp at 5,900 rpm, 425 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm
Transmission: Silversport Transmissions TREMEC TKO 600
Rear Axle: Currie Fab 9 rearend, Truetrac limited-slip posi, 3.70:1 gears, 31-spline axles
Front Suspension: TCI Pro Touring front clip, 2-inch drop spindles, Ridetech air suspension, rack-and-pinion steering
Rear Suspension: TCI 4-link, Ridetech air suspension
Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch calipers, two-piston calipers front and rear
Wheels: Schott Wheels Vulcan EXL; 18×9 front, 19×10.5 rear
Tires: Nitto NT555; 255/35R18 front, 305/30R19 rear
Upholstery: Installation by Elegance Auto Interiors (Upland, CA)
Carpet: Black loop
Steering: Stock column and steering wheel
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital RTX
HVAC: Vintage Air
Bodywork and Paint: R&A Auto Body (Montclair, CA)
Paint: Willow Green