PCH, Roll Cage Edition: Nova or Corolla?S

After watching the Borgward beat the 4x4 Checker in Friday's Choose Your Eternity poll, we figure the victory margin may have come from the (well-deserved) love we feel for station wagons, not the carefully reasoned factors we normally consider when choosing a Hell Project. So today we're going to have a common theme and a philosophical split. Do you go for the good ol' Detroit muscle or the pre-Boredom Era Japanese screamer? Both can be made insanely quick, both might be kludged together using all manner of driver-killing shortcuts, and both have rollcages! The best part about this matchup is that the Nova eventually became the Corolla in 1985, a classic example of "if you can't beat 'em, license-build 'em" logic.


First off we have a tried-and-true formula that's helped generations of hoons hit the guardrails at countless dragstrips and telephone poles on countless back roads, at speeds double or triple anything GM's designers ever intended for the car: the big-block early Nova. This 1964 2-door hardtop Chevy II is all set up with a full tube chassis, tubs, cage, the works (and it was done "professionally," which means "someone got paid to do it"), and it even comes with a 454! Well, OK, the engine needs rebuilding (let's hope that doesn't mean rod-shaped holes in the oil pan) and it has a no-doubt-tired 4L80E transmission (which will immediately turn into a fine mist of hot steel shavings as soon as it has to deal with the kind of power this car deserves), but what do you expect for just $3200? There's no word on the rear end, but the blurry photo suggests it might be a Ford 9". Also no word on anything else. Electrical system? Rust? Paperwork? Hey, this is Hell!

At least the seller of this 1977 Corolla has a clean title for the car, so there's one thing you won't need to worry about. And with a DOHC 2T-G head on a 3TC block and all sorts of go-fast goodies, you shouldn't have to worry about power. What you will need to worry about is whether the engine was actually built correctly, because something rings kinda suspicious about the seller's statement "After I brought it home I made an adapter plate and installed a single downdraft Weber just so I could hear it run." Come on, you bring a hot-rod engine home and you don't move heaven and earth to get the car driving that very day, so you can at least hoon up and down your street a little and enjoy the sound of it bellowing through open pipes? So you might want to take that into account when negotiating around that $4500 asking price (but just imagine that engine with lots and lots of boost). There's a fair amount of suspension modification in addition to the cage, so you'd be able to have the kind of twisty-roads fun that you could never have with the Nova... and with enough boost you might be able to take the Nova in a drag race as well.

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