When playing cards with fate, sometimes you get dealt a bad hand from the bottom of the deck. At the same time, that bad deal can turn into a lucky break that takes you down a road of happiness.
Pennsylvania native Kirk Marburger has been given a wild set of cards in his dealings with fate, but those cards allowed him to purchase a 1966 Chevy Nova that happens to be an eight-second street car, and make a life-long friend in the process.
Kirk has always had a thing for wicked-quick General Motors street cars; his list of past rides includes a 1971 Chevelle, 1970 SS Camaro rocking a 396 cubic inch engine, and a 1969 Z-28 Camaro. At this point just about every iconic GM musclecar has graced Kirk’s garage but a Nova, but soon fate would step in to change that, and much more for him.
“I first saw this car at Summit Racing Equipment for a car show and thought it was a very cool car. I had a 1969 Camaro at the time that was my ‘fun car’. A little bit later, I found out the guy wanted to sell the Nova, so I sold my car and bought it in 2007,” Kirk says of how the Nova came into his possession.
Just like that, Kirk had a new piece of GM musclecar history to add to his collection, and all was right with the world…or so he thought. Soon though, just pure bad luck would step up to the mound and throw Kirk an ugly curveball that would seem like a problem at first, but then set a chain of events into motion that would take his ride to a whole new level.
“Nine days after I had purchased the car, I wrecked it. In the process of trying to get it fixed, I found out from a friend of mine in the auto/body field that the car was originally built here in Pittsburgh.
“My friend also knew the guy that built the car, so he called him to see if he wanted to fix the car,” Kirk explains about the new twist of fate.
Well, he came to the garage where the car was, and he wanted to punch me for screwing up his fine car. – Kirk Marburger
“I got in contact with him to come take a look at the car to see if he could fix it. Well, he came to the garage where the car was, and he wanted to punch me for screwing up his fine car. He did agree to fix it anyway and that’s how our friendship began,” Kirk explains.
As the repair process went along, Parker provided Kirk with the full backstory on the Nova. “Scott sold the car to the guy in Ohio back in 1997 that I had purchased it from. That guy put a blower motor in it and took it to shows every weekend, and won all the time. Then I bought it off of him 10 years later, wrecked it, and ended up being best friends with, Scott the guy that built the car,” Kirk says.
Now, don’t think for one second that this boosted Nova is just a showpiece that Kirk and Parker built — this car makes frequent trips down the track, running deep into the eight-second zone. To make such quick passes, Kirk knew that the blower motor would have to go, so he and Scott got to work on the Nova’s new mill. And their plan for power exceeded even their wildest dreams.
The base of the new motor is a nasty 410 cubic inch Dart Little M small-block Chevy, which was chosen due to its ability to withstand high amounts of horsepower with ease. Scott then went about the task of filling the motor with a rotating assembly that features a Callies crankshaft and connecting rods, along with a set of custom Diamond Pistons.
A Moroso oil pan keeps all of the vital oil safe and flowing on the bottom of the block. Since the motor would be seeing a lot of boost, Scott made sure to keep the compression ratio nice and low at 8.5:1.
For cylinder heads, Scott decided to go with a set of aluminum AFR 28-degree heads to make sure the Dart block could breathe correctly when they poured the coal to it. A custom grind, solid roller Bullet Racing camshaft got the call to work with a set of Jesel rocker arms to finish off the top end of the motor.
With a boosted combination that’s capable of running deep into the eight-second zone, a high performing intake is a must, and Scott outfitted Kirk’s car with one of the best money can buy: a Hogan’s Racing custom manifold that’s even port-matched to the heads helps to achieve maximum airflow. The intake is also sporting dual throttle bodies and billet runners that push the turbo-fed air into the engine. Hogan’s supplied the fuel rails that suck down all the fuel the 260 pound injectors can put out.
I love the way the car sits and how fast it goes. It drives and handles on the street very nice. You can drive it around all day, then take it to the track, do some tuning on the computer and blast an eight-second run.
The rest of the turbo piping on the car is a hefty 3-inches in diameter and runs into the massive air-to-air intercooler mounted behind the front grill. Sending the boosted air through the system is a pair of 76 mm Precision Turbos that are kept in check by a set of Precision blow-off valves, and wastegates.
With this current setup on just 15 pounds of boost, the Nova has put down a stout 1,150 horsepower to the tires and ripped off a nice 8.80-second elapsed time at over 157 mph, all in street car trim.
Kirk wanted to make sure the car had good street manners and be able to perform at the track, so he paid close attention to the driveline he put behind the Nova. His transmission of choice ended up being a Rossler two-speed Powerglide and transbrake to make sure he had reliability and durability no matter what level of power he threw at the car.
Pro Torque supplied a custom 5,500 rpm stall converter to go with the Powerglide that could handle the rigors of street driving with ease. Kirk shifts the car with a Hurst shifter, and keeps the tranny nice and cool with a gigantic B&M transmission cooler.
Behind the transmission is a fabricated Ford 9-inch rearend that’s connected to the driveline via a rather beefy steel driveshaft. Inside the rearend, Kirk used all Strange Engineering parts, including a 3.90 ratio gear set, full spool, and 35-spline axles for added strength when he’s blasting off low 1.37 60-foot times at the track.
For the front suspension, Kirk went with a full Chris Alston’s Chassiworks front end kit to get the Nova’s stance right, and get the car to hook at the track, while a set of Varishock coilovers help with the dampening duties on the front of the car. In the rear, a set of QA1 shocks are used in combination with the chrome-plated ladder bar and Panhard rod suspension setup.
The Nova currently rides on a full set of Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels at all corners, matched with Mickey Thompson tires for the street and a big set of Hoosier slicks for track duty. To bring the car to a stop, Kirk elected to use a Wilwood four-piston caliper set-up for the front and rear of the car.
Inside the 10-point roll cage is a custom interior from Kris Kustoms. The gray ultra-leather has snake skin inserts in the door panels, headliner and trunk lid. Kirk went with Mercedes-Benz carpet and a custom aluminum steering wheel wrapped in snake skin to match the rest of the interior.
Scott did a fantastic job on the body of the Nova, making it look like a show car and still keeping it functional for the track. The body modifications include a 4-inch cowl hood, fiberglass bumpers, aluminum floor pans and wheel tubs, just to name a few bells and whistles that were done to the car.
When it comes down to it, Kirk’s car is a driver’s dream for sure, and that’s the way he likes it. “I love the way the car sits and how fast it goes. It drives and handles on the street very nice. You can drive it around all day, then take it to the track, do some tuning on the computer and blast an eight-second run,” he says.
Life dealt Kirk a bad hand early on in the ownership of his Nova, but he was able to overcome the bad luck and made a great friend in the process. What makes it even more interesting is that Kirk actually purchased the house next to Scott, built a giant shop, and now goes cruising with him in the Nova any chance he gets.
Kirk’s Nova is a testament to what racing and hot rodding is all about: doing what you love with your friends. Fate just happened to step in and make the story of Kirk and his nasty Nova a little more interesting for all involved.