Vauxhall Nova Tuning

"Nova actually means "Doesn't go" in Spanish"

Nova tuning

With the rise of the Corsa the Nova is actually becoming a rare site but frequently used as projects.

We have seen a few Novas with GTE and Cavalier SRi engines in them.

With conversions like this you will embarras modern hot hatches.

TorqueCars would say that Nova owners should uprate the handling of their cars as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 40mm or 35mm if you have the SR or GTE models and fit stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Top end power is your goal on the Nova on most engines as they are quite revvy and you want to tune it to have a nice fat peak torque band.

Enjoy your Nova to the full with our tuning tips. We have seen Nova's with 150bhp engines from Cavaliers and Vectras so the sky is literally the limit.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars. The SR gearbox is low ratio and will enhance the gearing on most of the other models. 

Engine tuning modifications.

One of the best mechanical mods you can do is to fit a fast road cam. You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to uprate the fuelling. Improve your cars response to the throttle with a Fuel pressure boost valve.

The following modifications are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Remap, lighter flywheel

    Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,power clutch

    Typical stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam, sports gearbox.

    Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Nova.

    Stripping out the car will mean you get a greater return in your performance investment.

    Nova performance intake & exhaust mods.

    Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. For small Nova engine sizes go with a washable panel air filter. On larger engines and turbo vehicles where a SIGNIFICANT power hike has been achieved an induction kit will help maximise your power gains.

    Sports exhausts balance the flow of air through the engine. But if your exhaust is too big say over 1.5 to 2 inches bore you will lose back pressure on most engines. We'd refer you to our article on performance exhausts for details of the issue around large bore exhausts and how to choose the right size for your engine.

    When you start tuning your Nova you will find that the standard clutch starts to complain so get an uprated clutch. The Turbo engines are just begging to have a boost controller fitted and will give massive power gains.

    Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Turbos are harder to add than supercharger. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with engine speed. Superchargers however will give a boost which is proporttional to engine speed so is easier to map. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection. (An engine swap therefore is the best option!)

    Vauxhall Nova Wheel modifications.

    Because alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they help to cool the brake disks. The downside to large alloy wheels on your Nova is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on performance. Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory. In all cases we do not recommend going above 16 inches.

     It would also be worth reviewing our Vauxhall tuning articles to get a full grasp of the pros and cons of each type of modification. Please join us in our friendly chat forum to discuss the Nova options in more detail with our Nova owners.

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    One Response to “Vauxhall Nova Tuning”

    1. mikemortimer says:

      graet article can i fit a 2 lttr red top in a nova how hard is it what parts do i want. regards mike

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