Many of us grew up in an era when car magazines ruled the four-wheeled world, a time when the word “digital” was only used to describe a calculator watch and the “internet” was a term only known to a few boffins at CERN. The golden era for the car magazine was almost certainly the 1980s, a time when the automobile had established itself as the ultimate status symbol and many of the car cultures we know today were developing, maturing and solidifying into their current form.
There are a few cars from this era that really stand out as being trendsetters, cars that were featured on dozens of magazine covers around the world and would have significant influence on the young men and women who poured over image, paragraph and spec sheet. One of the major headliners from the early ’80s was the car you see here, Dobbertin’s Nova.
Rick Dobbertin had risen to national prominence as a custom car builder in the 1970s thanks to his Virginia-based automotive speed shop. In the late 1970s he had some t-shirts made to advertise his garage’s ability to add turbocharging, supercharging and nitrous oxide to customer’s cars. In a moment of mental clarity, or sheer lunacy, he thought that it’d be fascinating to see if he could build a car with all three performance enhancing modifications working in unison – a major feat of engineering and an extreme rarity even in the upper reaches of the drag racing world.
“Just because something hasn’t been done in the past doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” says Dobbertin about his philosophy. “To this day, a lot of people don’t think the Nova is functional, but it is. We wanted something you could drive. It’s very simple when you really sit down and look at it. The turbos don’t really know the supercharger is there, and vice-versa. They work independently, but together.” – Rick Dobbertin
Rick and his team spent over 3000 hours building the Nova, they started work in 1979 and didn’t finish till 1982. By the time they were done the ’65 Chevrolet II had twin Roto-Master turbochargers, a BDS 6-71 supercharger, an 8-port nitrous oxide system, a 454 cubic inch LS7 V8, Holley 750cfm carburettors, twin radiators, B&M Comp Turbo 400, a DANA 60 rear end, a full roll cage and a Deist Flame Out fire suppression system. The dashboard contains 17 Auto Meter gauges and 2 Auto Meter Pro-lites to ensure that the multi-tasking driver knows what’s happening inside every system, at all times.
When the car was first shown to the public it blew open the burgeoning Pro Street custom scene and won the 1982 Hot Rod Magazine Street Machine of the Year award, as well as Car Craft Magazine’s awards for Best Engine, Best Car, Best Pro-Street Car and Best Engineered – a feat which it repeated at the next year’s show.
Today, Dobbertin’s Nova is remembered as possibly the most important of the early Pro Street cars, so it’ll be interesting to see who snaps it up when it’s offered for sale at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas on the 24th of September 2015. If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid on it, you can click here to visit its official listing.
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.