What is it about classic American muscle cars that make them so beloved even today? Is it the V8s under the hoods, or the menacing grin of the front grilles? Or maybe the throwback style of an era long since past? For John Krueger of Phoenix, Arizona, it’s all of the above and then some.
Since then, there have been a number of awesome builds (both Chevy and other brands) to grace his garage, including a 1929 Ford roadster, 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk, 1957 Pontiac Chieftain, 1950 Mercury, a 1955 Ford pickup equipped with a 427ci side oiler engine, and two Chevy pickups, a 1987 and an 1989. But most recently, it’s Krueger’s sick 1967 Nova SS that takes the cake.
Years In The Works
Krueger has had his Nova since 1985, but it wasn’t until 2012 that it received its glamorous build.
Driving around Phoenix with his brother in 1985, who was visiting from Washington, Krueger spotted the Nova outside of a local business. Though he admits the car was not in very good shape, Krueger stopped into the business and negotiated with the owner of the car, trading his ’84 Corvette for the muscle car.
Fortunately, the body of the car was flawless, the interior was in good shape and it ran really well with a 355ci under the hood and a 4-speed transmission.
Over the last 29 years, Krueger has rebuilt the Nova three times, the first two builds being mostly for aesthetic reasons. The last rebuild, which was completed in March 2012, is what gave the Nova the look and performance it has today.
One Intensive Build
Knowing exactly how he wanted his car to look and perform, Krueger started in on the latest build of his Nova by completely disassembling everything, down to the last nut and bolt of the car’s original suspension system. From there, everything was redone and the car was built up to its current glory.
Wanting a more potent power plant under the hood, Krueger opted to go the stroker route for the car’s engine, employing the help of Jack Rich, formerly of Performance Engineering in Phoenix, to make that happen. For the transmission, Krueger turned to Aztex Automotive.
Once the engine and transmission builds were underway, plumbing and wiring for the new powertrain was done, followed by some very meticulous fabrication work to build a new core support, radiator shroud and custom air intake system, which travels through the core support and behind the car’s grille. Modifications were made to the car’s firewall, which now hides the MSD ignition and coil. All the wiring was hidden in the frame as well as in the fenders.
Installing the brake system came next, which features all new stainless braided lines and a portioning valve rather than a booster for a cleaner look.
The interior was one of the last pieces of the puzzle to be completed, followed by picking out the perfect wheels and tires. The final step of the build was the color sanding, which Krueger and his friends did three separate times before achieving the right paint color on the car.
As we said before, Krueger opted to give his Nova a bit more oomph this time around and in doing so, decided to go the stroker route. The perfect engine for the job? A 1969 383ci stroker engine.
Balanced and ported, the engine now features a 540 lift camshaft from COMP Cams, a Scat 400 crank and rods, balanced Keith Black flattop pistons, Dart cylinder heads, a 850 cfm Quick Fuel carburetor, an Edelbrock single plenum Air Gap intake manifold, and a Spectre carb hat and air filters.
Modified Sanderson headers extend out of the side of the block, dumping into a custom exhaust system with Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers, built by Krueger.
Tied to the engine, you’ll also find those custom air intakes built by Krueger that we discussed earlier, which run through the custom core support, placing the air filters right behind the front grille for plenty of air flow. Also in the engine bay is a custom stainless radiator shroud fabricated by Krueger, as well as a handmade aluminum fuel log and a special rack with heim joints to hold up the intakes.Tying the engine to the rear axle is a TH400 Stage III automatic transmission with a forward manual valve body and a 3,500 stall converter from Hughes Performance tied to a custom driveline, which clicks into a rebuilt 12-bolt rearend with Posi-traction and 4.10 gears.
Planting the Nova to the pavement are special 18-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels from Coys Wheels wrapped in Federal Super Steel 595 rubber.
“During the last three weeks of the build, I could not find any wheels larger than 15-inches without having them custom made,” Krueger explained. “Thankfully, Coys Wheels came to the rescue. When I asked them why they have the correct offset wheels in 18-inch and 20-inch and no one else did, they said because they had a ’66 Nova themselves. The tires and wheels they picked out could not have fit or looked better.”
Behind the wheels are drilled, slotted and polished rotors joined to Wilwood disc brakes.
Giving the car superior handling qualities is a modern suspension system with Heidts drop spindles and polished coilovers in the front and a Heidts 4-link setup in the rear with full subframe connectors, as well as polished coilovers. The undercarriage is also equipped with a Heidts transmission crossmember, driveline hoop and a manual steering rack.
Because the body of the Nova was in good condition without hardly any rust, metalwork on the car wasn’t necessary for the build. However, Krueger and his friend Levi Weir took the body of the Nova all the way down to bare metal and sprayed it with epoxy primer before doing plenty of block work on it to get the surface of the body flawless.
Once the car was blocked, it was painted in Valspar Torch Red by Weir, with the sealer “the color of Pepto Bismol” Krueger told us. In total, there are two coats of color on the car and six coats of clear, plus lots of sanding and buffing time put in to get the color and sheen just right.
The Torch Red paint scheme is offset by the car’s stock black bucket seats and dash. The center console was added by Krueger, which features a B&M ratchet shifter. The gauges in the car are from Auto Meter.
Enjoying The Fruits Of His Labor
Since the car has been finished, Krueger has taken it to many car shows and events in the Phoenix area, including a handful of Goodguys Southwest Nationals events, where he’s received the Rodders Rep Award and gotten several other notable nods for his amazing work on the car.In fact, Krueger told us that his car has been nominated for awards at all the Southwest Nationals he’s been to even though the car has already taken home the awards it can.
“It is as much fun to drive this car as it was to design and fabricate many of the parts while building it,” Krueger concluded.
We can’t think of a better reason to truly build the car of your dreams and enjoy it once it’s finished!
Thanks goes out to Krueger for sharing his awesome Nova SS with us. For more images of this beautiful muscle car, be sure to check out the Chevy Hardcore Photo Gallery below!