- Original Code 11837 SS
- Marina Blue
- L82 350 V8
- Vortech Supercharger
- Muncie M20 4-speed manual
- 12-bolt / 4.10 gears
Sleepers are some of our favorite cars here at RK Motors Charlotte. Not just because they're fast and don't advertise, which is the universal appeal of the sleeper. No, we love them because they represent ingenuity and careful craftsmanship designed to put big horsepower in an anonymous package. Where guys who like to show off will spend countless hours polishing aluminum and stainless under the hood, the sleeper will spend just as much time hiding the important parts from view, and the results are always interesting. For your consideration, we submit this very clean 1966 Chevy Nova SS hardtop in period-correct turquoise paint, which is powered by a blown L82 small block under the hood. Is it fast? What do you think?
Actually, the color is code FF Marina Blue, and it's exactly the last color that you'd expect to eat your lunch at the stop light grand prix. Whose grandmother didn't have a car that looked just like this? That's the secret, of course, and your eyes glance over this car but don't linger, which is just how the sleeper likes it. Of course, the bodywork is well done, it's not a beater after all, but the essence of keeping a low profile means quality without being flashy. So yes, this Nova is squeaky clean and professionally finished, but you can forget bright graphics and modern paint that has enough metal flake in it to set off the detectors at the airport. The handsome lines of the Nova were typical '60s conservative, and just because they've become popular doesn't mean they're any more noticeable today than they were forty-five years ago. Panel gaps are good, but not too good, and the finish is nice, but not too nice. There's much more to keeping a low profile than factory colors and a nondescript body style.
It also means the stock trim remains 100% intact and finished to factory standards. The stainless has been polished and straightened, then reinstalled on the Nova's clean flanks. If it was on the car when it was new, because there's no reason to try to customize the sleeper's appearance. All the original badges remain, including the 'Super Sport' emblems on the quarter panels—after all, this is a real code 11837 SS. The glass is in good condition throughout, with some new pieces installed during the restoration, and it presents as a handsome, nicely finished car with no stories. And that's just how we like it.
By now you should not be wondering where the big investment was made on this car—it's all under the skin. The engine is a 350 cubic inch L82 small block with four-bolt mains for durability and a set of reworked aluminum heads to save weight. The dominant feature under the hood, however, is the massive Vortech supercharger perched up high and force-feeding the engine up to 5 pounds of boost. Combined with 8.5:1 compression, it makes for a ferocious street piece that's quick under all circumstances. Too many blown cars have low compression slugs to protect against detonation, but it makes them real dogs when the boost is down. Not this car—it cackles and snorts and pulls like a freight train at all speeds, with the power from the blower building with engine speed. You'll find yourself riding a wave of supercharged torque that feels endless, and it hurls the lightweight car forward like a catapult on the USS Nimitz. The engine bay is clean and tidy like the rest of the car, with a minimum of flash. Sure, there are some cool black valve covers with red Chevrolet emblems, and some aircraft quality lines feeding the fuel system, but otherwise the investment is all under the skin, making this one quick, nasty little Nova.
This is also an original 4-speed car, and it still carries a freshly rebuilt Muncie M20 behind the engine. In back, it has been upgraded with a bulletproof 12-bolt full of 4.10 gears on a Posi limited slip, which surely deserve some of the credit for this car's astounding acceleration. The chassis is extremely clean, and the work is only two years old, so there are few signs of road use since it was completed. Dual exhaust is, of course, part of the package, but it is restrained rather than aggressive, all the better to lure the unsuspecting into an impromptu race when the light turns green. The front suspension components have been powdercoated for long-term durability and the entire fuel system has been rebuilt from front to back, including a return line to accommodate the supercharger's varying fuel needs. Up front there are disc brakes to ensure that it stops as well as it goes, and it rolls on a set of handsome Rally wheels. Finishing off the sleeper look are a set of redline radials which look vintage but grip like modern tires, giving you another advantage.
According to the cowl tag, this was also an original bucket seat car, and it has been fully restored in correct code 737 bright blue. Stock condition means no raised eyebrows from competitors, but it also means this car is nicely finished with no questionable modifications. In fact, the only changes to the interior are a set of auxiliary gauges hanging under the dash, including one for keeping an eye on the supercharger's boost. The seat covers, door panels, headliner, and dash pad are all new and look fantastic in the Marina Blue coupe. There's also a factory-issued center console housing the shifter for the 4-speed manual underneath, and the original AM radio with rear speaker remains in the dash. Reproduction rubber floor mats only enhance the sleeper image if anyone gets close enough to look inside, and they're practical, too, protecting the fresh carpets underneath. In back, the trunk is finished to stock specs with spatter finish paint and a new mat.
All fast cars are fun, and there's something to be said for those that advertise their performance with flashy paint and graphics. On the other hand, how cool is it to have a restored Nova SS packing a big horsepower supercharged engine that remains completely invisible? The workmanship throughout this car is excellent, and you can show it with pride just about anywhere. Nova fans will appreciate its basic goodness, but you'll have to decide each time you show it whether to give away its secrets. Once you open that hood and people see that blower, it's going to become very, very difficult to find anyone willing to have a go at the strip or on the street. Ultimately, the most important part of a sleeper is the driver. If that's your idea of a good time, we have your car. Call today!