We recently came across a Before/After picture of a Nova that had suffered roof damage on the TCI Engineering Facebook page, which was accompanied by a testimonial for TCI suspension from the owner Darin Dick. “Both the front and rear suspension is from TCI. It wouldn’t be as good of a car if it wasn’t for the TCI suspension setup,” shared Darin. The transformation was so severe that we had to get more information on the build.
“I used to have a Nova when I was in high school and my dad had several when I was growing up.” Darin shared with us. This is an all too common story many car guys have told about the one that got away. The love affair for a specific brand or model of vehicle begins at an early age and never really fades with time. Maybe it’s a byproduct of a young, impressionable mind, or maybe it’s the thought of reliving your childhood. But honestly, who cares where and how when this excellent specimen is the outcome!
While riding his motorcycle one day, Darin spotted a faded blue ’66 Nova that had some major roof damage from a falling tree. A chance encounter that would lead Darin and some friends to return a few weeks later with a trailer in tow and make the purchase. “I was a painter at a body shop for 18 years prior to my current job and my best friend Eric Brown and I decided to tackle this project together. It took us two years of working on it nights and weekends to get it done.”
Most less experienced car builders might have chosen a nicer car to start with but Darin is no stranger to working on vehicles. Over the years he has built quite a few personal projects and if you spend 18 years working at a body shop you learn a thing or two about painting cars properly. Which also helped give him the expertise needed to take on an extensive project such as this. But that didn’t mean it was going to be quick or easy, by any means.
With the roof collapsed the windows were also blown out so the interior had been exposed to the weather. That meant the floor pans and trunk pan also had to be replaced. Luckily, the rockers were still in good shape and only needed minimal work. Not only that, but it definitely takes a brave soul to paint a car black that started out this rough.
Any good project must have a solid foundation. Darin chose Total Cost Involved (TCI Engineering) to update the notoriously poor factory Nova suspension. He decided to run a complete TCI Coil Spring front clip to improve ride quality and handling and remove some weight. For the rear he chose the TCI 4-Link with coil-overs and subframe connectors to stiffen up the chassis.
Billet Specialties Rally wheels compliment the stance and flawless black paint. These chassis improvements also compliment the rowdy 383 that is sitting under the hood. The forged rotating assembly makes full use of the AFR 227 heads, Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold, and Holley 850 hp carburetor. This wicked small-block churns out just over 600 hp being transferred through a RAM clutch and a 4-speed transmission.
To add to Darin and Eric’s expertise and hands on talents, they built both the engine and tranny in Darin’s garage. The rear axle consists of a 9-inch Ford fitted with Strange Axles and a Tru-Trac posi unit. As if this wasn’t enough power, Darin plans to throw on a ProCharger to spice things up even more. We’ll be keeping an eye out on TCI’s Facebook page for more updates.
“It drives like a brand new car. I couldn’t ask for anything better.” – Darin Dick