Twin Turbo LS ’68 Nova: Turquoise Terror


Twin Turbo LS ’68 Nova: Turquoise Terror


Kyle Avery says his passion for hot rodding goes back to day one. The Marion, Illinois-based industrial equipment mechanic tells us he was making car noises even before he uttered his first words. “My grandma used to tell me I was born with it,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve always been into anything with wheels and motors. But one of the first cars that really sticks out in my mind is the ’68 Dodge Coronet that my dad had when I was really little. I think I was about 6 or 7 years old when he taught me how to drive it.”

With a formative experience like that, it’s no wonder that Avery’s interests naturally gravitated toward vintage muscle cars as he got older. But by the time Avery entered high school in the early ‘90s, the mini trucking craze was in full swing, so he decided to jump onboard and give it a try.

“I took some auto body classes at the local college during my senior year of high school,” he says. “My main project was a Mazda extended-cab pickup I had at the time – I shaved everything and did all the typical custom tweaks, and I actually ended up getting it featured in Minitruckin’ magazine. But eventually I started to miss the fast stuff – the four-cylinder in the Mazda just wasn’t cutting it.”

That led Avery to acquire a fourth-generation Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which he outfitted with a 355-cube small-block V8 not long after. “I dragged that one out of a field,” he recalls. “It had an old 267ci V8 in it that was half apart. I just decided to dive in and learn as I went; I really cut my teeth with that one as far as engine swaps go.”

Over subsequent years, Avery turned his attention to drag bikes, lowrider trucks, and a Fox-body Mustang build before going all-in with a back-halved ’71 Camaro, which he bracket raced at local tracks. Although the car was good for low 6s in the eighth mile, the project’s racing focus limited how much he could actually use the car, and eventually he decided it was time for something a little more street-friendly.

“By then I had a kid, and I was ready for something I could comfortably drive on the street; something that I could take the family around in,” he says. “So I ended up trading the Camaro for this Nova and about three truckloads of parts.”

Outfitted with a 327ci small-block V8 and a five-speed transmission when he took possession of it in 2012, Avery says that the Nova’s drag-tuned setup at the time made it a little too high-strung for daily driving duties. He soon set to work with his initial plan of turning it into a pro tourer, swapping out the 327 and five-speed for a 6.0-liter naturally aspirated LS and a 4L80 automatic, respectively, then he dropped the stance with a set of coilovers and bolted up a set of large-diameter wheels. The Nova stayed in this general configuration for a few years, but eventually Avery was ready to turn up the wick once again.

“Around here in Illinois there aren’t very many curvy roads,” he explains. “So it was hard to stay away from the straight-line acceleration side of performance.”

The shift back toward a more drag-tuned combination was also necessitated in part by the addition of forced induction. The revised combination consisted of the aforementioned 6.0-liter LQ4 LS V8, which was outfitted with a Comp Cams camshaft, BTR valve springs, a Sniper throttle body, Bosch injectors, and a Holley Hi-Ram intake, along with a pair of VS Racing 7875 turbochargers.

Fed a steady diet of E85 and running 22 pounds of boost, Avery says the eye-catching powerplant is good for 806 horsepower at the wheels. While undoubtedly fun to drive, the additional grunt made the Nova a bit of a handful with the pro-touring wheel and tire setup it had at the time.

“It just couldn’t put the power down, so that’s when I went back to the drag stuff,” he says.

The 4L80 transmission is paired with a PTC 9.5-inch non-lockup torque converter, which in turn sends power to the rear wheels by way of a Ford Explorer 8.8-inch rear end that’s been outfitted with 3.31 gears. A custom triangulated four-link rear suspension is matched up with Viking double-adjustable coilovers and Competition Engineering subframe connectors at the rear, while the stock-style front suspension benefits from tubular upper control arms from TRZ Motorsports and its own set of Viking double-adjustable coilovers.

Avery also gave the Nova’s interior a comprehensive revamp, replacing a hodge-podge of Chevrolet and Pontiac pieces with a reproduction Nova upholstery kit from PUI Interiors and racing buckets from Procar, while a Maybee Kids Motorsports digital dash provides real-time data from a MegaSquirt EFI controller.

He says that aside from adding the four-inch cowl hood, the exterior is more or less as it was when he took delivery of the car back in 2012. “The paint was fresh when I got it, so that was one of the few things I didn’t end up changing,” he says. “It’s actually a factory color – Tripoli Turquoise. I hated it at first, to be honest. But everyone else who saw the car loved it, and it eventually kinda’ grew on me. It’s not another black Nova.”

Completed in 2015, Avery has brought the Nova to a wide variety of shows in the years since, including several LS Fest East events. “We actually drove it down to Bowling Green for several of them,” he says. “And that’s kind of the beauty of this build. If you want to go cruise it, or take it somewhere for a date night, it’s actually pretty comfortable to be in.”

It would seem that other folks concur with Avery’s assessment of the Nova, as he actually ended up selling the car to another show-goer at last year’s LS Fest East. In the time since, Avery says his hot-rodding efforts have largely been focused on a ’71 Chevelle restoration for his father-in-law, along with an Eliminator Daytona jet boat build and a project that he’s putting together with his son. “That same mini truck that I had in high school found its way back into my life again, so we’re building it for my boy as his first project car,” he says.

Avery also notes that all of his projects are motivated by LS power these days. “We’re an LS-swap family at this point. Once I did the first one, I knew there was no going back.”


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