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Old 5th-February-2013, 10:21 PM   #1
RedDirt
 
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'77 Nova Project

I posted in the new member section a few months back but my project is finally underway and I thought I would introduce myself in the proper section. Here is my Nova as it sits today:



Bought it 13 years ago for a high school car and after I graduated I just couldn't get myself to sell the car. Put in storage and there it sat until a few months ago. This will be my first attempt at a car restoration and I'd have to say, it is intimidating at this point. So much to do, so many questions... But, all in due time. I guess learning is half the fun.

Anyway, first things first. The tires are showing age so they need to go. I'll be upgrading to 15's in the process. I'm leaning towards a set of Cragar SS wheels. Based on the information I've dug up on here, I'm going with 15x8, 4.5" bs on the rear and 15x7, 4.125" bs on the front. Called Summit and they said a 5 week wait on the wheels since they are custom order backspace. Bummer, I hate waiting.. I'll wrap them in a set of BFG Radials, 255/60R15 rear and 235/60R15 front. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it will be a nice change from the Progressive wheels that are on there now.

My long term plan is to tear apart the front end and rebuild from the sub frame up with a fresh coat of paint, new bushings and such. The 305 will be replaced with a 350 or 383. The thought of building a motor is very intimidating to me, so right now I'm leaning towards a ZZ4 or ZZ383 if I can't find a good local builder.

That leads me to my first question for you 4th gen guru's. My brake booster is no longer working. I'm debating between just replacing the booster and calling it good or doing a more extensive replacement of the booster and master cylinder. Should I go with the same type of setup (something like this) or is there a better option out there? Say a double diaphragm unit or maybe something I'm not even aware of? At some point I'd like to go over the brake lines and disk/drum brakes, but since this needs done now, I might as well do it right the first time.

I appreciate any help. My google fu skills are fairly strong and this site has already provided me with a TON of great information. But the more I learn, the more questions I seem to have. I'll post up more pics as progress is made.

Last edited by RedDirt; 29th-June-2014 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 5th-February-2013, 11:24 PM   #2
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The master cylinder is dirt cheap, even if new, why not change it with the rebuilt booster? Going over the lines in an old car is a good idea, particularly living in the States where buying mail-order pre-bent lines is a click away. In Mexico its living hell to buy this kind of stuff. And I always replace rubber brake hoses in old cars, always, thats the first thing that rots with age, right along with the master cylinder.
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Old 6th-February-2013, 11:55 PM   #3
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Welcome to the site. Not an engine guy but what about modifying that 305? When you find that engine builder maybe ask about having it machined to a 327. Your 77 looks perfect as a restoration candidate. On the brake situation I would replace what you can afford to replace but with QUALITY replacement parts. I know Inline Tube has replacement parts in their catalog for 4th gens or better yet pm Philip. Philip has even converted his Nova to rear wheel disc.
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Old 7th-February-2013, 10:56 AM   #4
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I have thought about modifying the 305. New heads, cam, manifold, carb and headers would sure wake it up. After looking at the cost of the parts it seems like I can rebuild a 350 for the same money. Definitly still an option though as it would be a great learning experience. Good idea with the 327, I'll keep that in mind.
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Old 7th-February-2013, 11:51 AM   #5
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bad idea on the 327 to make a 327 out of a 305 would take a stoker crank like you would use to make a 383 out i lot of cist for little gain , would still be better off with with a 350

but you could get a later set of 305 heads 1984-85 ? with the smaller chamber and they have a larger 1.84 valve not a 1.72
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Old 7th-February-2013, 01:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77-427-5sp View Post
bad idea on the 327 to make a 327 out of a 305 would take a stoker crank like you would use to make a 383 out i lot of cist for little gain , would still be better off with with a 350

but you could get a later set of 305 heads 1984-85 ? with the smaller chamber and they have a larger 1.84 valve not a 1.72
Good to know, thanks.
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Old 7th-February-2013, 05:51 PM   #7
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I like the size of the tires you're going to run!
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Old 7th-February-2013, 10:28 PM   #8
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truth about 305s.... most poeople hate them because they dont understand them. I jave built a number of them, they make plenty of reliable street power. They use the SAME crank and rods and block as a 350, but the block is casted with much smaller bores. You cannot hog out the bores to make it a 350. However, the stroke is there for plenty of low cost grunt. DO NOT try to stroke it out or get nuts.. keep it to a sweet .040 overbore and its a plenty gas friendly street motor.
trick is do not get crazy with the cam and try to get a set of flat top pistons for it. with that and a performer intake and some long tube 1 1/2 tube headers so it will breathe, youll get 300 horse and torque or a little better at the crank. heres some specs on the last 305 I built for myself, even a you tube link of the car.

79 305 truck block ( ls dipstick)
.040 over, flat top hypereutectic pistons with 4 valve reliefs
callies 350 crank and stage 1 connecting rods with arp rod bolts
clevite 77 bearing throughout, brass freeze plugs
1.5 ratio roller tipped rockers, .454 /.454 gross lift cam
home ported, gasket matched 601 casting heads
cloyes double rolling timing set
melling hv oil pump
summit racing intake and 600 cfm carb
dyno's 321 hp and 342 tq redlines at 5500 rpm (pulls hard all the way to it
realistically it probably gets just under 300 horsepower to the wheels. havent dynoed it yet.

now if you want to wake that motor up on the cheap, invest in headers and exhaust as well as a carb and intake...everything you bolt onto a 305 will go right onto a 350 or 383 later. 305's were designed to get 350 numbers ( in the late 70's and thru the 80's) on a more fuel efficient and smog friendly platform. They were very close and responded nicely to minor upgrades.

Main killer of 305's is that they were built with dished pistons and low compression. Bump up that compression and make it breathe better, it will perform nicely, and still get respectable gas mileage.


thats a link to my last 305 build. I can build you one too. I personally like the 305. Decent street motor that responds well to minor upgrades and still gets nice fuel mileage. GAS AINT GETTING CHEAPER FOLKS!!!
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Old 17th-February-2013, 06:58 PM   #9
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Took advantage of the nice 65 degree winter weather today and washed the car. When I was cleaning the interior I noticed a little moisture on both the drivers and passenger side floors. The drivers side was wet near the high/low beam foot switch and the passengers side was wet in the same location respectively. This got the gears turning and I pulled the carpet up. Sure enough, my rust free car has rust in the floor pans on both sides. I can actually see daylight! Looks like a small section of the floor pan will need to be replaced on each side. I'm going to pull the seats and carpet tomorrow and see what else is under there. Hopefully the rust is isolated to a 12"x12" area on each side. This leads me to a couple questions. Where do you guys think the water is coming in? My initial guess is the vents behind the hood and then somewhere along the firewall. I know it is probably hard to diagnose with the limited info I provided. Just wondering where else I need to look to prevent any surprises down the road.

I started looking for replacement floor pans and found one though RockAuto Parts. Anyone have any experience with them? Classic Industries lists one for up to 1976 nova's. I read on here that the floor pan is slightly different with 77-79 models. I'll keep searching, but any help locating a replacement would be appreciated! I'll get a few pictures up tomorrow once I pull the seats. Hopefully I don't find any other surprises!
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Old 17th-February-2013, 10:02 PM   #10
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I dont think the pans are different from 75 to 79. Your leak is probably a rust hole near the dash and windshield.
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Old 18th-February-2013, 06:29 PM   #11
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Made good progress today. Removed all the seats, carpet, pad and some of the interior trim pieces. The front passenger side has the worst rust. I'll have to replace the most here. The rear passenger has surface rust but I touched around with the wire wheel and it may be salvageable. Front drivers side has one spot that is rotten, but better than I thought it would be.

Nasty pad


Rear


Front Passenger


Rear Passenger


Front Drivers
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Old 20th-February-2013, 10:14 AM   #12
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That is a nice clean car to start out with. I like it, but don't do the the 305, do a 350, 383, 400 combo and you will not be sorry. For me building and detailing the engine is my favorite part of the build. Good luck with your build.
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Old 20th-February-2013, 10:51 PM   #13
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This is going to sound horrible to purists, but the floors pictured can easily and very well be repaired with fiberglass cloth and epoxy, and a careful detailing over and below. They dont seem weak at all. I dont see the need to cut and weld major panels if this is not a 100,000 dollar resto or a ground-up rotisserie job.

Where you will probably need welding will be around the lower windshield if its as bad as I suspect. Big holes tend to happen there and will need metal patching. You wont know unless you remove cowl and windshield to see, there's no way to see from below.
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Old 21st-February-2013, 11:36 AM   #14
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Very cool car! It's been said already, but I'm with the folks to who say start with simple bolt-ons to your 305, which will directly transfer over to a 350 later once you get your other essential projects taken care of (tires, brakes, etc). I wouldn't invest any money on the internals. Stick with headers, a good intake, ignition upgrades. ZZ4s and ZZ383s already have strong heads, but if want an interim upgrade, consider some -416 or -601 casting H.O. heads on 0.015" shims. You can find them dirt cheap. I have a used set, but the shipping probably wouldn't make it worth while.

Something else to consider along the way are your rear-end gears. Disco Novas had 8.5" housings, but grandma gears. When I upgraded to a 350 from a 305, I still had 2.56s and the difference wasn't very noticable. I switched to 3.08s, and the difference was substantial. Now I run 3.42s and love 'em.

Lastly, I run 255/60R15s on my car with 4.5" B.S. Check my garage for photos.

P.S. I agree with dlezama--for holes that small, 'glass it and fuhgedaboudit.

Last edited by DPack77; 21st-February-2013 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 24th-February-2013, 07:27 PM   #15
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Received a delivery this week.





I think I'll go ahead and replace some of the floor pan. I know I could probably get away with bondo or fiberglass, but I have the time and tools so I might as well do go ahead and do it. Hopefully I can have the floor done by the time the weather warms up enough for prime and paint.
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