Nick Kanavaros 1970 Challenger
Going into Vancouver to Meet Nick Kanavaros and take some pictures of his white 1970 Challenger, one is reminded of the Cult classic movie Vanishing Point…and one hopes this trip does not end up as jam on Bulldozer blades.
Going for rides in these monsters of the past is fraught with danger as the owners want to leave an impression of us journalists…and that impression seems to involve speed, and lots of it. This car was as a street car that would be taken to the racetrack periodically…..and Kanavaros did not feel the need to impress me with his right foot since he has the time sheets to impress even the best factory teams of the early 70’s.
We met at Kanavaros’ house in Kitsilano, the same house he lived in when he first started driving and driving fast cars. The car fired right up and Kanavaros says that the car always starts easily. We drove down the narrow roads until we hit 4th avenue and headed to Spanish Banks for some photos.
The car has the full back seat, although the rollbar “bars” access and Kanavaros likes to joke that he does not even take out the floor mats when he races. He bought the car in 2006 with plans to build a numbers matching car. The previous owner and car restorer Jody Wilson said the engine needed a rebuild but the cracked block meant losing the all important “Numbers Matching” status.
As a consolation another number was chosen…a nearly 800 horse 572 Hemi that would eventually propel this car down the 1/4 mile in 10.72 seconds at 129 mph. But it is just at home driving in traffic and heading to the beach for a picnic.
At the beach we positioned the car, took some photos and then fired up the car and repositioned it and took some more photos….and so on and so forth. The car never complained…never baulked..it just kept starting, moving, stopping, repeat.
After shooting at a few locations we headed home only to find his parking spot was taken behind the house…so he parallel parked it on the street. The car started as an original N code big block 383 with factory air conditioning. It ended up as the perfect Street Strip car until it reached the point where an 8 point roll cage was needed.
The transformation from stock numbers matching to the car today was handled by Kanavaros’ younger brother George while he worked at CC Racing in Richmond. George sourced the parts and starting with a nicely painted white base clear with the black accent stripe on the rear, the car was built with no body modifications.
Frame connectors without the rollcage at first and manual stock brakes with a racing manual shift 727 Automatic built by Jaime. The rearend is Dana , Strange Axles, 4:10 gears, aluminum driveshaft and to make sure the power hits the road a Cal Tracks rear suspension was used. Stock 15 inch rallye wheels with radial 60 series and on the track Goodyear Slicks. The car was finished in 2011 is driven to the track at Mission and has been driven to Victoria.
The magic is in the motor. Indy Cylinder Head was contracted to build the perfect combination of power and streetability. A bore of 4.5 inches and a stroke to match inside a “World” Iron Hemi block and topped with “Indy” 426-S/R Aluminum Hemi Heads. A solid competition camshaft and breathing through a `Mod-Man` intake and a couple of 750 CFM Edelbrock carbs.
The power is impressive with 800 Horsepower and 724 ft. lbs. of torque….some other numbers to consider…it weighs 4,200 lbs. …it runs at a cool 160 degrees in summer traffic thanks to the Griffin aluminum rad… It won the semifinals at Mission in 2012 and ran consistent 10.8 times with a fastest time of 10.7.
Being no stranger to cool cars and having owned a 1970 Cuda convertible for show and a 1970 Roadrunner, a 1969 GTX, a few of the big suicide door Lincolns. a 1959 Caddy convertible, an 8 wheel lug 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix, a 1963 Studebaker Hawk with Paxton supercharger, a couple of T-Birds, a couple of Buicks and parked in front of his house a 1931 Model A “Vicky”. No plans for more rides…yet!!
As we headed home from the photo shoot I mentioned that back when we were much younger did we ever think we would be cruising around Vancouver in a 10 second street car and have it quiet enough that we could easily carry on a conversation? With a smile and a tromp on the throttle the noise increased and the car gave a little shrug. He said “look back”….I turned in my seat to see a cloud of tire smoke with a jeep driving through it like some apocalyptic war movie….Yeah…it’s got a HEMI!!!!