A jet black Nova slowly drives across the parking lot as if being pushed along by a thumping camshaft while the onlookers at the local night meet marveled at the reverence of the moment. Not often do you see a ’71 Nova that’s daily driven, and hand built by the girl who’s behind the passenger wheel. But for Christina Migdalias, this is what makes her unique. She and her jet black, Chevy Nova.
Many wonder about the story behind her car, which we found out began around 2016. After working her but off for several years, she finally saved up enough money to purchase a street car. And in her sights was a 1970 Chevy, Chevelle — but she was sidetracked after hearing about a 1971 Nova for sale. It was completely original, a numbers matching car 4-speed car, all except the motor. “After taking it for a drive, I knew I didn’t want anything else. I just fell in love with its character and style!” She says.
After several months, her Nova was quickly adopted the name “Bad Grandpa” for its stock appearance bolstering a factory hood, basic interior with the factory bench seat, 4-speed manual transmission and even the stock wheels. But under the old façade was a spiced up 350ci Chevy small block that didn’t take any lip.
Although the car had attitude, Christina knew that she wanted to bring serious life back into the old man. So with a mechanical dose of Rogaine, she pulled the engine out and stuffed back in a fresh 355ci long block and loaded a set of 3.73 ratio gears in the rear axle to spring life new into the stoplight drag times. Next on the list was a set of BMR lowering springs for a subtle stance and subframe connectors for added support.
To bring the performance into a modern era, she installed a Holly Sniper EFI-stand alone fuel injection throttle body system backed up with a Holly Sniper EFI conversion fuel tank and 255lph submersible fuel pump. To assist the upgraded powerplant, she dropped out the original 4-speed transmission and installed a fresh 350 automatic backed with a 2,500rpm stall converter.
Now that things were getting more serious, she needed serious traction. So she slapped on a set of 15”x4” and 15”x8” Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels, wrapped in 275/60×15 Mickey Thompson ET Street R street slicks in the rear and Mickey Thompson front runners. Last but not least, she added a fiberglass 4-inch cowl induction hood in replacement of the stock and finaly the old man was finally ready for some action.
Spending random weekends at the drag strip at Atco Dragway in New Jersey, the car has shown promise to the demise of it’s opponents. “It’s a no-time car, so I don’t like to give up these details.” She says with a grin. “But it did really great last year with the new automatic transmission and stall converter and this year I am hoping to get the car into some grudge racing or even just bracket racing.”
Her next goal for the Nova is to replace the current motor with a 383ci stroker, and although that’s going to be a gamechanger, she doesn’t want the Nova to be a full out drag car. Keep in mind, this girl is hands on gear head and she has another project in her arsenal for that purpose. “I’ve so much fun running the Nova at the track, but I never want to lose the ability to drive it around and put friends and family in it. It still has the bench seat, full interior, and I refuse to cage it.” She says.
Her other project, a 1986 Cutlass Supreme, will be a full on drag car. In fact, she’s already rebuilt the front suspension, installed rear coilovers and is currently notching the rear frame to mini tub the car. After that, it’s going to the fab shop for a full 8-point roll cage install. Needless to say, she has her priorities straight!
Like many of us enthusiasts, building and racing street cars can be a top priority, ultimately to create a fun and fast machine. But we have to always remember, the best part of this sport is the experiences we create along the way. “I always have fun working on this car. It has taught me so much about myself and not being afraid to learn new things and challenge myself.”