Five Easy Classic Nova Performance Upgrades

While there's a lot to be said for being bone-stock, there's also a lot to be said for taking your classic Nova's performance to another level. Between the advances in electronics, fuel delivery, brake systems, and suspension systems, there's a LOT you can do to an "old" Nova to make it run.

1962 Nova

This image (and the others in this article) were taken at the GoodGuys shows in Pleasanton and Texas last year. Click each link to see more photos from these events.

Here's a list of easy performance upgrades classic Novas.

Upgrading Your Carb

A quick way to get more power out of your Nova is to conduct a carburetor tune. By getting the mixture of air and fuel just right, you'll see substantial improvements in power, idle quality, and starting.

Of course, tuning a stock carburetor (or even a carburetor from the 80s or 90's) is easier said than done. Considering all the technological advances in carbs in the last few years, it might make sense to ditch your old carb and upgrade to a new carburetor from a company like Edelbrook or Holley. Bolting on a new carb is a great performance upgrade.

Wider Tires

Most people know that tire technology has improved dramatically over the last few decades, but it's also important to note that tire selection is improved as well. With more companies offering tires in a variety of sizes, it's much easier for classic vehicle owners to upgrade...especially if you've got a set of after-market wheels. Mounting a wide set of tires on your Nova is a great way to improve stability and cornering, not to mention looks.

A sharp black and silver Nova

Of course, if you want your wheels to stay completely stock, you can reference our new classic Chevy wheel and hubcap guide, see what your Nova's original wheels and tires looked like, and go from their.

Performance Shocks and Suspension Upgrades

Shock technology has changed a fair amount in the last few decades, with the newest shocks offering multiple valves and variable damping. This type of shock upgrade manages to improve performance during spirited driving without compromising vehicle ride quality.

If you're looking for a way to give your Nova another level of handling performance, you might also look into air suspension systems that can be adjusted for comfort or performance. Suspension conversion kits are also available, and they can offer new suspension geometries that improve handling.

Finally, don't overlook the impact that something simple can have on ride and handling. A new set of bushings or control arms can make a big difference if your current components are heavily worn.

Nice yellow Nova

Larger Anti-Roll Bars

You may have a faster car, but how does it handle in the corners? If you answered "not well," then a larger anti-roll bar is in your future. The anti-roll bar helps your car stay levels on the road and minimizes sway from cornering. It allows you to push harder and longer in the corner.

Brake Kits

Disc brake conversions kits aren't exactly cheap, but they make a tremendous difference when it comes to stopping your Nova. With more power and reliability than factory brake systems, a brake upgrade is a very popular option. Installation is involved, but not quite as involved as you may think.

Converting to disc brakes is definitely one of the more costly and detailed upgrades listed here, but it's also the only upgrade that can make your classic Nova safer. It's worth considering.

The best part? All of these upgrades are guaranteed to put that little kid grin on your face...Isn't that grin what owning a classic Nova is all about?

Red Nova