Video: Going All-In with an 800hp '66 Nova


"It was never supposed to be this full build... One thing led to another, and it just kept going and going. And eventually I said 'you know what, let's just go all-in like we're in Vegas at the tables,'" said James Harris, the owner of this '66 Nova. The car was recently featured in a video by YouTube channel AutotopiaLA that gives us a closer look at some of its intricate details. It's powered by a 454ci LSX engine that's currently making about 800 horsepower at the crank.

The '66 Nova's Humble Beginnings


Harris bought this '66 Nova from a seller in New York, mostly stock with an inline-6 engine. Unfortunately, after two years the Powerglide transmission started having trouble, so he decided to swap in an LS engine. He didn't originally plan to turn the car into a full frame-off project, but he soon realized he wanted to do a lot more than swap the engine and transmission. So, it was time to take it to local builder Lakeside Speed and Shine and go all-in.

Viva Las Vegas


Appropriately, Harris told AutotopiaLA that the car's build was inspired by his love for Las Vegas, where he used to live and got married. The LSX engine's valve covers, intake manifold, and air intake are hydro-dipped in a red and black pattern of cards, horseshoes, and other Las-Vegas-oriented images. This stands out in the clean engine bay alongside a smooth firewall and inner fenders from TCI.


To put all the power from the new LSX to the ground, there's a built 4L80E transmission, Strange driveshaft, and Currie 9-inch with 3.50 gears.


During the tear-down of the car's body, substantial rust was found in the floorpan, so it was cut out from the bottom of the firewall all the way back to the trunk. New Dynacorn sheet metal was used to replace the rusted-out sections. Luckily, the rest of the body panels were salvageable, except for the left front fender.


The body was painted Audi Nardo Grey with black and red accents, and it rides on a set of custom-painted Budnik Vapor wheels, 18x8 in the front and 19x11 in the rear. One of our favorite touches is the fuel filler, which was cleverly hidden behind one of the LED tail lamps.


Finally, the interior received a custom cage, Dakota Digital dash, and ProCar bucket seats reupholstered in red leather. It also has a high-end sound system and a touchscreen controller for the Holley EFI system that allows Harris to adjust the tune.


To see the car in action and hear more about all the details, check out the full video below from AutotopiaLA:


Looking for Chevy Nova Parts?


If you own a classic Chevy II or Nova, Classic Industries can help you restore it or take it to the next level — even if you aren't ready to go all-in yet. Browse our selection of parts online, give us a call, or click the button below to get a free full-color Chevy II/Nova parts catalog.