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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When I originally posted on this site in the new members forum, one of the fine folks on this site that welcomed me asked me to post photos and progress as I go...that was 2017. I have done it somewhat but realize I probably should have posted in this forum instead of continuing in that one, so I decided to start this post to continue my build(?).
I've always liked old cars but would consider Chevrolets my favorite. I love the 3rd generation Novas, the 73 and 74s are my favorite...I know most people prefer the 68-72 because of the front, back and the bumpers, but it's the quarter windows I so much prefer about the 73/74s. I always wanted a 1974 Nova, it was my dream car. I'm a 1974 myself, I guess that's why the 74 is the year I considered my dream car, but I would have been perfectly happy with a 73.
I had bought a 1979 Chevy Malibu project car and had a good buddy of mine helpin me work on it, really tryin to fix it up nice. He's pretty knowledgeable about body work and mechanical stuff...myself, I didn't know diddly squat. We spent many allnighters in the garage workin on that Malibu. I really liked that car, it was factory bucket seats and console 2 door black interior and I had bought new upholstery and Chevy frost green paint for it. I had some green back then, sellin stuff on the ebay, rollin pretty good. Anyways, there was a problem with it that I just couldn't get over...it had one of those mid 80s JC Whitney sunroofs installed, and it just bothered me more and more as the car was looking better and better. One night as we were finishing up some of the final sanding before paint my buddy told me that he would like to own the car someday, and I told him I would trade it for a 73 or 74 Nova 2 door, even a pretty rough one, and he was on the hunt. He found a 1974 on the craigslist and had talked to the owner about swapping for an early 80s Mustang he had (he had already offered to trade me for the Malibu, which I shot down instantaneously). So me and him took my truck and loaded his Mustang on his brother's trailer and headed out to find this Nova and see if we wanted to do a swap. Well, we found it and boy, she was rough. My buddy figured the deal was off but I was lookin this poor thing over, and I just felt sorry for it. It had some serious rust, interior trashed...looked like it had been baking in the sun for 20 years. It had the light green interior and I figured, she's a keeper. Green is my favorite color. I told my buddy I'd do the trade if I could keep the frost green paint, the carburetor, headers, rally wheels and the new tires I had bought for the Malibu, he agreed. I owned my dream car.
We swapped the wheels and got the Malibu fired up and out of my garage(I never once got to drive the dearned thing) and got my creampuff 74 in there.
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I was thinking my buddy would be onboard helpin me fix up the Nova but unfortunately he ain't been around too much. I was pretty much on my own and I really had no confidence in myself when it came to doin any of this stuff. At first me and my wife did some work on the interior, I took out the ripped up hangin down headliner and removed the board. We got some green vinyl and spray glued it on...it looked a whole lot better. I took out the bench seat and intended on puttin in bucket seats eventually. Took off the super sticky original steering wheel and put on the ol' classic 3 spoke job. I took the column gearshift off and installed a B&M floor shifter. It was missing the rear package tray, so I got one of those, nice green, and put 'er in there. I ordered what I thought by the photo was a light green carpet but it turned out to be dark green...that's ok, put 'er in there too. I bought a super cheap black seat cover for the rear seat and immediately realized that was a stupid waste of a small amount of money. In my other post I said me and the wife put a dash pad in, but it was actually one of them plastic covers siliconed in there...

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I'm sure you realize by now that this ain't the typical build you read about on this site. I'm tryin my best to make this car as good as I can, I don't have a lot of money to spend on it and unfortunately, I don't have the kind of skills it takes to do any of this right. To be honest I wouldn't want something too nice(and boy, no worries there) just something good enough. I guess it's a rat rod, maybe, just the best I can do with the limited resources available. I love show cars, factory original and all that, but I would never be able to afford one. My favorite kind of car is the ratty muscle car with the imperfections and faded paint...but not a totally abused, bruised, rusted up and neglected jalopy. I like 15" rally wheels and the rear raised slightly...I'm an old soul. I like the original patina, but not the fake patinas.
Back to the car...I liked the side trim, but I eventually wanted to do some stripes so I decided to delete the trim. I was happy with the B&M shifter, but I got to thinking I would rather it be a long console with an armrest like the Malibu had...I couldn't find one of those cheap so I started to build one with wood I was goin to try and wrap in the green vinyl. I came across a console out of a 73 Camaro or Firebird pretty cheap on Ebay so I ditched the homemade thing and got it. I got it to fit to the B&M with a piece of black plastic. I broke down and bought the rear seat upholstery and me and my wife somehow managed to get it installed.
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My buddy had some bucket seats out of an 80s Blazer that looked like the Camaro style...I got them from him and he painted them with the vinyl green paint for me. I eventually got a set of 80s Camaro seat tracks off ebay, they bolted right to the seats and I got them attached. When I was a kid I loved the General Lee and I always thought the roll bar was cool...I ended up putting one in. I know it's dumb, but I like it.
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In that photo you see that I had aftermarket lap belts in...when I got the car it had the seatbelts cut out and long gone hillbilly style. I bought the cheapest retractable lap belts I could find, installed them, decided no way, they look ridiculous in there, and got some old GM retractable belts off the ebay and switched them. I wanted to put the GM sport bullet mirrors on and they go for pretty high, so I bought the cheapest ones I could get, they were complete junk, so I bought some more of the cheapest ones I could find, they weren't complete junk, just sort of junk and then I lucked into a deal on some pretty good ones. I try and try to save money but end up spending more in endless fails than I would have if I had just broke down and bought some decent ones in the first place. The story of my life.
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Earlier this year my son started helping me some on the car and we've been trying to work on the Nova some every weekend and I am making some progress. I decided with the poor quality of body work I'm able to do I didn't want to use the expensive frost green paint I had bought for the Malibu and to just pick out some spray paint and make it look as good as I could. He was constantly givin me the business over the color...he isn't into the green, told me when I finally decide to die he's goin to paint it black... I said I'll just be buried in it then. He said he would leave the interior green in memory of me, so I guess I'll do the pine box thing instead. I wanted to do the Nova with the Spirit of America style front vinyl top in a darker green than the green I picked out for the body. I quickly ditched the vinyl top idea because I couldn't find that particular trim piece anywhere, and also the fact that I have no skills. Decided to try and get the same look with satin paint...so I just started painting in the front as we fixed(?) it. We put on a used passenger side front fender I found on the craigslist. I bought a new one for the driverside...I got one for a 1969 because it was about $200 cheaper and I was pretty sure it would fit. Thank God it did, we just cut the side marker hole longer to take the 74 version. The rear window trim was beat all to be danged...I got a much better used set off the ebay and got it installed. We got the bullet mirrors installed and new weatherstrips in the doors. When I got the car it had the hood with a big ol' fiberglass scoop that was crackalackin all around...I knew that thing was a wall hanger at best...the car came with another one, what I believe is the original hood, and it had some tiny holes drilled for what I can only guess was a big 'ol fiberglass hood scoop. I had tried early on to weld em up with my Harbor Freight deluxe welder but I couldn't figure out how to weld(I eventually watched them youtube videos and kind of sort of figured out a little how to ugly weld, hence the roll bar install)...I had yet another hood, the feller I got the fender from gave it to me, it was from a 72, I assume there's some kind of difference but they look pert near the same to me. No matter, I had a little extra moolah at the time so I splurged again and got one of them AMD 2" cowl hoods and me and my boy got that baby on there. During this hood decision situation I had moved these hoods from blockin the ol' fridge in the garage and found some long forgotten liquid gold, Dr. Pop from the Save-A-Lot, 12 pack of cans...they don't sell 'em in cans anymore, buddy I thought "Oh yeah!" got to sippin on one of those...Big Mistake. Take my word for it, don't ever drink 4 year old can of Dr.Pop, I won't go into the gruesome details.
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Me and my son got a new windshield in and put some hood pins on it. We had fixed the broken grill and I went ahead and painted it satin black. I had posted on the other thread some photoshop stripe designs I was considering and some members on this site(Blyoth and 45Short, thanks fellers!) made some suggestions that really helped me out.
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The last thing I've done to the Nova is work on the trunk weatherstrip lip rust. The taillight panel had some issues too, in between both sides of the taillights were plum rusted away...I had splurged about all I can for a while so instead of buying the whole replacement panel I made some patch panels and fixed it as good as I could with the ol' Harbor Freight deluxe.
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I guess next I'll be taking off the fuel tank and trying to patch up some of the inside trunk floor. After that quarter panels, figurin out how to attach the reproduction rear bumper filler I bought a while back. Ain't got no brackets/retainers for the filler, gonna rig somethin and then get the ol' bumper on. After that, carburetor and exhaust and hopefully it'll run
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You keep saying you don't have any skill, but dang! Your car looks great!!
Thank you buddy
You ever see an ad for a car that looks pretty good but when you go to possibly buy it.......?
I am happy with a lot of the things we've done to it, and I have learned a little along the way. I really enjoy messin with it, and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you make something at least a little better than it was. I wish I had started tinkerin on cars when I was younger
 

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And @Tripwire1974 , you're working on it with your son which is invaluable!! Time well spent with children! As @45Short said, the car looks great! Your skills are only as good as you perfect them to be. We all didn't start out being able to TIG like a pro, or build a perfect engine, glide a straight panel, and apparently your wife has some skills too!! It takes time and practice, failure after failure... Good family project for sure!! We're all here to help with lots of tech info and ideas. I had a '74 hatchback a few years back that I got for my son who didn't really care too much about it being a 350/350 with A/C, and I ended up selling it for a loss. Wish I still had it but, wishes and all.. worthless.

Keep up the great work and please, do keep posting more pictures as you progress with the build. We all love pictures and it motivates some of us to get off our fat A$$es to do work on our own builds :p

~Andy
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
And @Tripwire1974 , you're working on it with your son which is invaluable!! Time well spent with children! As @45Short said, the car looks great! Your skills are only as good as you perfect them to be. We all didn't start out being able to TIG like a pro, or build a perfect engine, glide a straight panel, and apparently your wife has some skills too!! It takes time and practice, failure after failure... Good family project for sure!! We're all here to help with lots of tech info and ideas. I had a '74 hatchback a few years back that I got for my son who didn't really care too much about it being a 350/350 with A/C, and I ended up selling it for a loss. Wish I still had it but, wishes and all.. worthless.

Keep up the great work and please, do keep posting more pictures as you progress with the build. We all love pictures and it motivates some of us to get off our fat A$$es to do work on our own builds :p

~Andy
Thank you! I love working on the Nova with the family...even if what we do ain't perfect it makes the car have more value to me knowing me and my wife and son all had a hand in fixin it. Can't wait for us to ride in it someday, hopefully soon. I have gotten better at some things(far from perfect) and I plan on going back over a couple things I've done and doin a little better job. I appreciate the encouragement!
 

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I have gotten better at some things(far from perfect) and I plan on going back over a couple things I've done and doin a little better job. I appreciate the encouragement!
@Tripwire1974 I spent years of my life up to this point obsessing over perfection when it came to cars. Like many others I watched the TV shows, I read the magazines, I dreamed about having a mythical car that not only looked great but was over-powered and reliable. As I've gotten older, I've been working to accept that very few things are perfect. The cars that we see in magazines and on television are outside of the reach for most people. Very few of us have the skills, tools and financial means to drop $50,000+ on all of the components one would need to build a car of that caliber. Hell, even with $50K we probably don't have the skills and even if we managed to have all of the needed resources we probably would lack the time!

I've worked on accepting things that are less than perfect. Years ago I would have probably spent an afternoon with a flap disc on a grinder underneath a car trying to knock down rust and cover it with Por-15. Nowadays I focus more on the functionality of the car, the safety and such rather than minor details. I figure if I can manage to get all of the mechanical right on my project, I can always worry about beautifying it later. Ultimately it's about the journey and it's not the destination. It's that time spent alone or with friends or family working on the car, pursuing the dream more so than arriving at a finished project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ THIS!!!! /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
I hear you guys! Even the car I traded for this one, the Malibu I never drove, those nights workin on it with one of my best friends are memories I'll cherish for the rest of my days. Great times spent with a buddy, and everything I do know I learnt from him on that project.
 

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Yo Tripwire! Back off on the claims of "I can't do nothin' right" You are doing good work, and plenty of it.
Doing things over and over is not a bad thing, We learn how to do it the first couple of time through.
Good idea to save the spendy paint until you find someone that can spray it at a reasonable cost.
Welding with the Deluxe Harbor Freight Welder is quite a challenge.
I gave up using the HF and got a Lincoln when I was replacing my quarter panels.
With my welding limitations, the HF simply would not turn down far enough
to keep from burning up the tired steel on my '69. Renting a Lincoln or Miller would be a good idea for your Old Rusty
You are doing good work, and time spent working with your wife and your son is invaluable
 

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Crank down the heat, watch your wire speed and use .022 or .025 wire, not .030. huge difference. Small spot welds every 5-6" then move on. Cool with compressed air if need be to keep the panels from warping. Heat is your enemy. No matter what welder you use. I've even used a cheap-ass hf flux-core before and with the right wire, got the job done without much follow-up. Long time ago, but people do it. Just take some time on your old panels you already cut out and practice. Be sure to grind to clean steel and clean it with acetone before welding. You'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I appreciate the tips fellers, I'll check what size wire I got in that thing and if it's the big stuff I'll go get the smaller...I'll keep practicin inside the trunk where it don't matter too much(to me anyways) and if I get the gumption built up I'll tackle a quarter
 

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Crank down the heat, watch your wire speed and use .022 or .025 wire, not .030. huge difference. Small spot welds every 5-6" then move on. Cool with compressed air if need be to keep the panels from warping. Heat is your enemy. No matter what welder you use. I've even used a cheap-ass hf flux-core before and with the right wire, got the job done without much follow-up. Long time ago, but people do it. Just take some time on your old panels you already cut out and practice. Be sure to grind to clean steel and clean it with acetone before welding. You'll be fine.
A few other thoughts on this. You can also use heatsinks, wet rags, etc. to suck heat out of the area. I spent a fair amount of time with Wray Schelin of ProShaper and I figure anytime you're welding sheetmetal you're going to have to planish afterwards because heat is going to shrink metal. What I encountered more often than not dealing with old sheetmetal is blow-through. Sometimes it's completely unavoidable. Even metal that seems fairly solid that's old, probably has lost some of its' thickness over the years through corrosion. Smaller wire and less heat is helpful. In a perfect world you'd use a TIG machine or even Oxy/Acet with a jewelers torch. Just take your time and don't worry about it all too much.
 

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I'll keep practicin inside the trunk
You cut out a ton of old sheet metal so why not practice on all that so it won't matter at all, it's going in the scrap heap, right? It's great to have metal to practice on to perfect your settings and you'll know they're correct since it's the metal you'll be working with. Take a couple hours and do some stitch and spot welds along a bunch of the straight lines and then experiment to see how much you can get away with each pass. May just spot weld for shrinkage-sake and as @unstable said, a wet rag, constantly replenished with tepid (NOT COLD) water helps as a heat sink. Good advice!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A few other thoughts on this. You can also use heatsinks, wet rags, etc. to suck heat out of the area. I spent a fair amount of time with Wray Schelin of ProShaper and I figure anytime you're welding sheetmetal you're going to have to planish afterwards because heat is going to shrink metal. What I encountered more often than not dealing with old sheetmetal is blow-through. Sometimes it's completely unavoidable. Even metal that seems fairly solid that's old, probably has lost some of its' thickness over the years through corrosion. Smaller wire and less heat is helpful. In a perfect world you'd use a TIG machine or even Oxy/Acet with a jewelers torch. Just take your time and don't worry about it all too much.
I definitely encountered some blow through...I figured it was my inexperience welding
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You cut out a ton of old sheet metal so why not practice on all that so it won't matter at all, it's going in the scrap heap, right? It's great to have metal to practice on to perfect your settings and you'll know they're correct since it's the metal you'll be working with. Take a couple hours and do some stitch and spot welds along a bunch of the straight lines and then experiment to see how much you can get away with each pass. May just spot weld for shrinkage-sake and as @unstable said, a wet rag, constantly replenished with tepid (NOT COLD) water helps as a heat sink. Good advice!!
I kept all the old metal...I'll take your advice and weld on it.
I never thought to cool anything when I was workin on the taillight panel. I only wore gloves(or a glove) about 5% of the time and with all the metal cutting, grinding and welding I accidentally touched super hot metal about 50 times. I'm a genius
 
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