KAM Nova, the latest blockbuster from Rob Zahabi, is so black that when the FreeStyle Rides lovelies peeled back the silk cloths during Inauguration at Meguiar’s MotorEx Melbourne, one could be forgiven for thinking they were at the Event Horizon and about to get inexorably pulled into a celestial black hole! “Why all black?” we asked Rob. “When I had Kamaro (see breakout box far right) at SEMA in 2012, I’d already decided to have a bash at building another show stopper,” he says. “I was bouncing some wheel finish ideas off Troy Trepanier to see what he thought. Once I’d decided to go black with the wheels, I knew straight away the whole car was going to be black.”
This black-on-black theme caused Rob no end of headaches. Every single last piece had to be recoated or painted. “Very little is available in black, it’s either polished or chromed,” says Rob. “All of it had to be sanded, etch-primed, primed then painted. It was a four-day process every time I wanted to bolt anything on.” And while much of Rob’s 1970 Chevy Nova is straight House of Kolor Jet Black, the exterior is actually two-tone. House of Kolor Orion Silver has been added to the Jet Black that runs from the sills up to the hipline. It’s not until you catch it in the light at the right angle that the silver reveals itself. It’s a very deft effect. KAM Nova’s other overriding theme is symmetry. “I wanted twin superchargers,” Rob says, “but I wanted them to be symmetrical.” On the surface this may seem like a relatively straightforward request. However, it required custom-made, one-off billet housings and internals, as everything is in reverse – the blowers are mirror images of each other. “Initially ProCharger said no,” Rob explains. “However after Kamaro scored Top 15 at SEMA in Las Vegas, they came back and agreed to build them. They’ve been great.”
Striving for symmetry also required custom-made intercoolers and radiator from PWR. The radiator was especially challenging, as it features a centralised inlet and outlet hidden underneath the monstrous elephant trunk intake pipe. With a 1500hp, blown 572-cube engine to keep cool, ensuring the radiator flowed properly was a top priority. PWR nailed it!
Rob put a lot of time into planning the entire car. The 1300mm-wide engine hangs out over the tyres, making packaging extremely challenging – there’s only 10mm clearance between the blowers and the tyres at full drop. Even the choice of a 1970 Nova was carefully considered. “I definitely wanted to build a muscle car, and while I still have a soft spot for Camaros, I figured people had had enough of them,” says Rob. “I spent a long time figuring out what was going to be the next big thing. The Nova is an awesome shape and I thought it would suit the ProTouring look.” Not being a common car in Australia, few realise the extensive fine tuning the body has received. All the factory moulds have been removed, replicated in steel and blended into the panel work. The bumper bars have been shortened and tucked back into the body. Sills were extended 80mm, while door handles, locks and side marker lights were shaved. This along with a myriad of other subtle mods – plus getting the panel gaps perfect and the edges and lines super sharp – was all completed in-house at Rides by Kam in Queensland.
One of the reasons Rob’s Nova sits so nice is that it was built around its stance. Rob knew the wheel dish he wanted, from there Speedtech (dropped front spindles), Ridetech (front A-arms and airbags) and Brembo (brakes) all had to work together to create the well-engineered one-off front end. “It need to tuck the front tyres hard,” says Rob, “plus accommodate the huge brakes, while retaining good geometry when air’d out. Which is why custom upper and lower control arms were required.”
The rear end was far more straightforward; mini-tubs and a triangulated four-link allowed it to effortlessly swallow those enormous 22×10 rims wrapped in sticky 305/25/22 rubber. The underside is just as slick as the top, without a fuel or brake line in sight. Rob boxed and smoothed all of the chassis, while the lengthened sills wrap seamlessly under the car and run right across to those silky-smooth chassis rails. At the rear, a single flowing panel wraps from the bumper bar right through to the area above the diff housing. It also incorporates an intergrated rear diffuser that flows up into the rear bar. Swage lines were added to all these smoothing panels to give them a factory appearance.
Much of the burgundy leather interior was built from nothing. Where possible (i.e. the air vents and centre console) Rob continued the symmetrical theme. With the floor so dramatically altered – it was raised to clear the four-inch exhaust – the rear seat was also made from scratch. The interior is where the third ‘oval’ theme becomes more obvious. To match the oval holes punched into various parts of the Nova’s metal structure, the interior sports oval vents, a KAM Nova badge and multiple billet ovals (all painted black of course). There’s even an oval design in the one-piece hood lining. It took just eight months for KAM Nova to come together; a lot of that had to do with extensive planning beforehand.
“I sketched this car out from day one, even down to the interior,” says Rob. “It’s always good to draw it out on paper before doing it in reality.” After a few select appearances here in Australia – which will include the MotorActive stand at Summernats 28 – KAM Nova will head across the big pond where it will debut at Goodguys Ohio, then tour with Billet Specialties and Brembo before heading to Las Vegas, where it’s slated to be the star attraction on the Meguiar’s stand at SEMA 2015.
VEHICLE: 1970 Chevrolet Nova
BODY/CHASSIS: All exterior mouldings removed, filled in and smoothed over with metal; quarter-vent windows deleted; cowl hood scoop added; sills extended 80mm; custom front spoiler; mini-tubs; rear diffuser incorporated into rear undertray and bumper bar; bumpers shortened and tucked into the body; round lights incorporated into front bar
ENGINE: Engine: 572ci big-block Chev
Blowers: Symmetrical billet F2 ProChargers
Intake: Weiand manifold, Holley Dominator
Ignition: MSD Power Grid
Radiator: PWR centre fill
Exhaust: Four-inch straight through
DRIVELINE: Gearbox: TH400, full manual
Diff: Fabricated sheet-metal 9in, Currie Truetrac, 35-spline axles
STOP & GO: Springs/shocks: Ridetech Shockwave airbags
Suspension: Front; double A-arms with custom spindles. Rear; triangulated four-bar
Brakes: Front; Brembo 400mm rotors & six-spot calipers. Rear; Brembo 380mm rotors & four-spot calipers
ON THE INSIDE: Trim: Burgundy leather
Wheel: Billet Specialties Formula
Pedals: Billet Specialties Profile
Shifter: B&M Pro Ratchet
Gauges: Dakota Digital VHX-1100
AUDIO:Head unit: Pioneer AVH-X8550BT
Speakers/amps: Pioneer 6.5-inch splits front and rear, plus two 10-inch subs. Two four-channel and two 1800w mono-blocks
ROLLING STOCK: Rims: Billet Specialties Velocity 20×8 & 22×10
Rubber: Falken 235/30/20 & 305/25/22
THANK YOU:Owen Webb (MotorActive), Jake (Jakes Performance), Matt (PWR), Fabrication 81, Street Elite Restorations, ProCharger, Billet Specialties, Dakota Digital, Ridetech, Brembo, Speedtech, Pioneer. My sons Mitchell and Cooper, along with my wife Tricia for being so understanding of my car addiction.
story CRAIG PARKER photos JOHN CHURCHILL