409 Nova Wagon Brake Upgrade Project


Well Known Member
In keeping with the mantra of "project cars are never actually done" I am starting on a new endeavor with my 65 wagon(original thread here: http://348-409.com/forum/threads/65-chevy-ii-409-swap.30696/). I have been driving the Nova with the 409 in it for about a year at this point and one thing that I can definitely say needs attention is the brake system. The single piston master and tiny 10" drums were hardly up to the task of stopping the car when stock!

That being said I am not planning to go totally modern disc brake conversion and ruin the period look of the car I am trying to maintain. I have instead decided to follow a different path to upgrade the stopping performance.

Enter... Bad Bascom, the 62 Chevy Nova 2 door set up for road racing by Bill Thomas Race Cars that would eventually become Dick Harrell's Retribution II powered by a Z-11 427 engine. This car started life as a basic 2 door hard top model. Bill Thomas then installed a 327 fuel injected corvette small block with a T-10 4 speed, set the engine back almost 13" and grafted just about every suspension and brake component of a 62 Corvette he could on to the uni body Nova. Here are a couple of pics...
thomas-1962-chevrolet-chevy-II-bad-bascom-front-three-quarter.jpg thomas-1962-chevrolet-chevy-II-bad-bascom-engine.jpg thomas-1962-chevrolet-chevy-II-bad-bascom-interior-passenger-side.jpg

I have already installed a Ford 9" in the Nova with 11" drum brakes from Currie enterprises that have been a major improvement. I would have liked to install 63 Impala rear brakes but the 63 rear ends are not known for their strength or durability when it comes to drag racing. So with the rear brakes as good as they can be at the moment I have set my sights on the fronts. I plan to basically follow the lead of Bill Thomas and install 63 drum brakes, 63 impala spindles, 63 corvette steering arms etc... As you can see from the next pic, the swap is pretty much bolt in. The only differences that I can see are the orientation of the lower ball joint facing down instead of up as is stock on the Nova's. You can see the entire setup in the upper left photo below:

So that is my plan at the moment... 63 Corvette/Impala front brakes on a 65 Nova Wagon. I have some other surprises up my sleeve but I will save those for later!


Well Known Member
Supporting Member 5
The original would make a great blueprint for a "tribute" car with a few modern upgrades. Not quite the Speedway Motors Nova, but not a drag racer at all. The idea of mostly GM parts is pretty cool, if not always practical.