Man Builds Mini Nova After Purchasing Motorcycle Engine Off Craigslist

Rarely do we run across a muscle car that embodies the ‘Built not bought’ phrase as thoroughly as this miniature version of a 1970 Chevy Nova. Like it or not, every styling aspect perfectly captures the original Nova. Hell, even the performance is nothing to laugh at because it would likely pull on some “tuned” cars. We heard of the man who built the legendary mini nova and set out to find out if the legend was true. It wasn’t long before we ran across the man behind the build and were so genuinely impressed by the build that we wanted to dig a little deeper into what this handmade hellion is all about. The man below first came to the idea from a passion, like most of us, for American muscle cars.


Built Not Bought

With prices of real Chevy Novas of early 70’s easily starting at $40,000, and some exceptionally beautiful examples going for considerably more, it is easy to understand why someone would want to “create” their own. The owner of the mini chevy nova, who has remained completely anonymous lives in Missouri and first drew the idea on his garage floor as a chalk outline. From there a Craigslist search landed him a Kawasaki ZX12R motor that is used to power the rear wheels of the Mini Nova.


The amalgamation of different parts doesn’t end there, though. From that Kawasaki, block power is sent through a Toyota driveshaft out to an eight-bolt Toyota differential. All the power is moderated through a sequential 6-speed manual that is also taken from a bike. By the time the power hits the 26×14 tires, it is still moving with enough force to lay down a thick line of rubber and cloud the air – wicked!

Handling all of that power is a Mustang front suspension setup taken from a used car. All of this is mated inside of a hand built steel tube chassis. Even the body panels were crafted by the owner and shaped to resemble a 70’ Nova. To keep the panels light each of them was made around a foam frame using plywood and around fifteen gallons of resin, To make sure they all stayed together he employed the use of our best friend, Bondo body filler.

Perhaps the best part is that he even painted and adorned the body to look like the famous Yenko Novas of the 1970s. That is a nice classic touch that really sells the part.

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How’s It Drive?

Simply put: quickly. That Kawasaki motor may not make the guttural beating of a real Nova’s V8, but it is plenty fast with 185 horsepower. The whole assembly of the car easily weighs below 1,500 lbs (680 kg). If our estimate is right, that will give it a power-to-weight ratio of 0.12 / 1 pounds, which is quite respectable.

Even in the video, as you’ll see, the car is quick to grab traction and accelerate up to moderate traffic speeds in only a few seconds. You would easily surprise some people at the lights or place highly at a local autocross event. With a short wheelbase, it would handle a tight cone course really well.
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