There are many ways in which a builder can utilize technology when building a car. First, they can use advancements in basic building techniques to bring out the best of any vintage vehicle. I mean, let’s face it, engine builders and chassis manufacturers have learned a thing or two since many of these cars rolled off the assembly line. While those advancements might not be readily noticeable to the untrained eye, their affect on how the car performs is recognizable from the onset.
A builder also can use modern components from the aftermarket or even the original manufacturer to ensure they’re getting the most up-to-date performance from their rides. Changes could make the most of the car’s performance, or simply make it more enjoyable to drive. The recent LS-swap craze fits firmly into the first group, while adding items such as power steering or air conditioning are at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Then, there is a third group. These enthusiasts not only keep abreast of the newest trends and techniques for getting things done and search out the latest goodies to equip their cars, they also have a sixth-sense of how to design and assemble a car. Think of it this way: when you consider any trend-setting car, is it the use of new parts or the integration of modern thinking onto a palette that makes it stand out from the crowd? Most times, it’s the combination of parts and the skill by which they are unified into the build, that makes a car stand out in a crowd of competitors.
More than simply the sum of all the sales receipts, an innovative, trend-setting car has — within its very DNA — a prevailing, ingenious fit of all the parts coming together. Within the creative process, its builder(s) have tapped into the exponential benefit of knowing when everything works together and looks like it belongs.
This forward-thinking is coupled with restraint, to ensure that the envelope is pushed without going too far. Builders of this caliber don’t simply “throw the parts book at it,” and the car doesn’t stand as a testament that its owner isn’t afraid to shop the accessories aisle. They give the build what it needs, and nothing more. Building a car with less can be much more difficult, as there are less bits to get the job done. In those moments, a builder’s abilities truly shine.
Such is the case with Butch Poe’s ’63 Nova. The car’s boxy lines have become quite iconic, and taking liberties with them is akin to touching-up the Mona Lisa with an aerosol can. Butch knows these cars pretty well. He knows where they can use a little updating — and where to leave them alone. When Butch commissioned Street Metal Concepts (SMC) to build his dream Chevy, he decided to stick with a good thing and make changes where changes brought the most benefit to the build. The process pulled a little bit from each of the three previously mentioned categories, spicing-up the entire build with a sprinkling of creativity that caught our eye at the recent National Street Rod Association’s Southeast Nationals in Tampa, Florida.
Originating from Chuluota, Florida, Getting to the show was just a short jaunt down Interstate 4 to get to the event from Butch’s hometown. The journey to making this little Chevy such a cool build took a bit longer. In fact, almost four-and-a-half years of the five years that Butch has owned the car.
Something Old, Something New
In that time, the car has transformed from an early econo-box, into a highly sophisticated blend of parts, performance, and processes that make it much more than its original creators ever envisioned. Going with the tried-and-true small-block design, performance started with a DART aluminum block, stuffed with parts fresh from the best in the business.
To make sure to fit it all in, the block was bored, and a SCAT crankshaft installed by Butch’s friend and engine builder, Fred Kinney to create 427 cubic-inches. Fred filled the holes with forged CP-Carillo pistons that move a full four-inches up and down in their bores. A complete set of Oliver 5.7-inch connecting rods keep the slugs in time. While doing an engine build, we once asked the folks at Oliver about the strength of its connecting rods, the reply summed it up nicely, “If anything comes out of that engine, it’ll have a perfectly good Oliver rod connected to it!”
Fred Kinney continued building power by utilizing a Bullet solid-roller camshaft measuring .585/.682-inches of lift and 255/262-degrees of duration. The aluminum block is capped off with a set of Brodix aluminum heads that have been port-matched and fitted with Manley 2.08- and 1.60-inch valves. COMP Cams roller rockers and valve springs give those valves the necessary up and down dance for best performance. A Brodix intake sorts out the air/fuel mix that is conjured up by the BLP Racing Products 940 cfm carburetor, An MSD distributor makes sure that everything is burned properly before exiting out those Total Cost Involved 1 ¾-inch headers and Stainless Works exhaust.
The end result was planted on the Express Engines dyno with BLP Performance’s own Bo Laws doing the tuning. In the end, the small-block churned out 550 naturally-aspirated horsepower. A few more than the ’63 Nova’s original six-cylinder ever offered.
New And Improved
An American Powertrain T56 transmission converts all of that fuel and fury into varying speeds of fun. The Mark Williams differential was treated to a 4.56 gearset and 31-spline axles, ensuring that all that fun gets translated to those Forgeline GT3C wheels and Michelin 295/35-18 tires out back.
Up front, the car now wears a complete Total Cost Involved Pro-Touring front clip, featuring rack-and-pinion steering and massive 13-inch Wilwood rotors, kept in line with matching six-piston calipers. A complete treatment of QA1 double-adjustable coilover shocks keep the car’s ride height and handling in check.
I used to own stuff and not drive it, but not anymore! – Butch Poe, Owner
When you look at the interior and under-hood areas of Butch’s ’63 Nova, you’ll instantly recognize many of the upgrades that have been done. But, you’ll only be getting part of the story. Sure, you’ll quickly notice the blazingly-red interior, created by the talented folks at Avant Garde Design in Palm City, Florida. But what you might not recognize, is how the interior came together in a tasty blend of off-the-shelf aftermarket materials and a hefty helping of hand-built bits.
The tailors at Avant Garde crafted the interior and soft parts using traditional techniques, as well as some modern technology. The custom-machined gear shifter and the surrounding console highlight their talent at fabricating, and the smaller bits such as the fuel filler door, illustrate their inclusion of modern techniques such as 3D printing. Certain fabricated panels are retained by strong magnets to allow for easy removal and functionality, which was just as important as appearance.
On the outside, the body has been massaged by the skilled hands of the folks at Street Metal Concepts. Originally at the shop just to fabricate that stunning rear spoiler and to receive some tidying up on the body and underhood areas, Butch liked what he saw from the folks at SMC. Once he had the car back in his home shop and completely stripped, he returned it to SMC for the finish work and shiny bits. The entire build of the car is a tasty blend of talent between Butch and his friend Kenny, the folks at Street Metal Concepts, and Avant Garde. When you look at the final result, it becomes obvious that the entire team had a unified view of the perfect Chevy II.
Built To Perform
One look at the exterior of Butch’s Chevy, and you know that it was built to be driven. Butch says the car drives really nice and the handling, in his words, is “killer.” While he understands that a car may never really be considered completed, he does affirm that beyond the occasional tweak, the only thing left to do is drive this one. He’s already put around 1,000 miles on the odometer, and while neither he nor the car are ready for any long-haul escapades, he does expect that once the car has a few more miles on it, it could likely see more highway miles per day.
Butch’s motivation for the build wasn’t to haul home a vast array of trophies or ribbons, but to actually get out there with his car and share experiences with like-minded enthusiasts. He explains, “I used to own stuff and not drive it, but not anymore! For me, the best part is to get out there and talk to others in the hobby.”
And that’s exactly what Butch is doing with his ’63 Nova. He’s already been to a score of cruise-ins and several larger shows around the southeast. Chances are good that you’ll see him sometime this summer, enjoying his Nova on the showfield and the highway. Either way, we think that this little ’63 Nova shoebox Chevy is a winner!