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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A lot of people wish they had their first car. I’m so happy I still have mine!
A high school friend, Greg (RIP), had a black '74, and we cruised the Renton loop (Renton, Washington) all the time. I had to have one! So, in March of 1978, I found mine! A yellow SS coupe. L48 350, turbo 350, 10 bolt, black buckets and interior. I cruised it as it was for about 4 years. Then, the transformation began. I'll try and post pix from its various incarnations with some details. But, the timeline is roughly this:
1978: Purchased the car from Lakeside Pontiac/GMC in Bellevue, WA. Shortly thereafter, traded the stock Rally wheels (and a generous dose of cash) for Cragar SS's and T/A's. Air shocks to give it the hot, jacked up look that was so horrible for a decent launch, but such a contemporary, hot look!
1982: 427/turbo 400 installed. Engine very close to a L72 Vette engine, save for a larger Crane Commander cam. Also got a 12-bolt posi with 4:10's from my friend Dan, out of his ‘68 Camaro.
1983: Painted the car the sky blue color it is now. It was an American Motors color called Big Bad Blue. My friend Russ (RIP) painted his ’56 Ford show truck that color and I loved it!
1985: Decided I liked the look of the 1968-1972 front ends better. Converted to a ’72. I also loved the fact that I took all the weight of the big block away with the lighter nose. Also added Nitrous.
1988: Street raced in Renton. Undefeated until a pesky '68 Camaro shut me down! (Crazy story about this Camaro and its owner later) Raced the car at Super Chevy Sunday at Seattle International Raceway (now Pacific Raceway) Made it to the quarterfinals of Street Tire. The best I ran that day was an 11.61 @ 120. Dialed at 12.0, and broke out (11.98) against a Biscayne that dialed at 16.98. Won 75 bucks though!
1989: Forgot to add anti-freeze. Got unseasonably cold that winter. Car was just in a carport. Engine block and heads cracked when antifreeze-less water froze!
1996: Car had been shuffled (minus engine) from one garage to another since the engine froze. Finally bought a house and brought her home to my own place! Found a 2 bolt 454 block, stuffed the rotating assembly of the old 427 into it, and got her going again! Used the old heads because I thought I'd found and fixed all the cracks (didn't!!).
2010: Decided to remove the 427 to make some minor changes. Those minor changes have changed to a major makeover! I’m nearing the completion of this, so I’ll be showing lots of shots of the progress!



Original ad I responded to.

Ist Time slip!

Gabriel High Jackers equipped!

Big Bad blue with stock nose.

L72 Heads.

L72 Heads.

427, circa 1996 going together.

427 and Turbo 400 installation, 1996.

Nova, 1996.

Engine compartment, 427 BBC, as she looked from 1996 until Thanksgiving, 2010.
 

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74 nova

hello i also have a 74 nova and im needing some help i have bought a new wiring harnnes for under the hood but dont know what colors go where if u can help plzzz
 

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Great story and great history. I can relate - I have owned my 66 Super Sport for 33 years now and plan on keeping it for a lot more. :yes:
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Wiring harness question for Keith

I can't be too much help with your wiring question, unfortunately. Mine has been changed considerably for various reasons such as MSD 6AL, hiding the wiring so the least amount possible is showing, and changing plug ends to fit a gear reduction starter. Sorry.
 

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That is pretty awesome, I hope that I can keep my car like you have done. I have had mine since i was 15 (only 21 now) and it is my first car, I have it all the trim and vinyl off and i just need to force myself down to a shop to get some quotes for new panels before the weather starts becoming unfavorable in the next couple months :( . Anyway I live just North in Auburn so it is cool hearing stories from around these parts :D

Good luck on your project, looking forward to your posts
 

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Got my first car and it was a Nova 35 years ago, didn't keep it but about a year though. Great story, have fun with it.:yes:
 

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Thats cool! Still have my first car too. A 72, Had it since I was 14.(almost 40 now) You have done a lot more than mine though!!:yes:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
August 25 Update

Some additional shots of how she looked in 1996.

12 Bolt, Competition Engineering Slapper Bars, full 3" exhaust w/Flowmasters.


Driver's side interior. Pretty much stock, save for the under-dash MSD ignition panel.


Had the factory bucket seats redone with a blue velour fabric at some point. Don't remember when.


Rear seat is pretty much pristine. Haven't driven it too many times with passengers. My son and daughter ride there to the Dari-Queen.
 

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72 Frame off, bare metal resto-mod. 383, TH350, Eaton Posi, Complete new suspension, disk brakes
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I was a Colby Cruiser

Up in Everett. It was a real moment in time.
I got the Nova bug from a guy who worked for me in Middletown, Ohio. He had a 3rd gen that was just set right, and it has stuck with me for nearly 40 years. Now I have mine.

keith - PM me, I can probably help you with your wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks

PCPete, I really enjoyed your PhotoBucket pix. Nice car. Nice to hear from 74Nova_guy as well. It'll be fun to get together with our cars at some point. Nice there's people here from the Puget Sound area.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The beginning of the new chapter.

So, this goes back 30 years. I had put the BBC 427 in where the 350 had been. The headers for the 427 hit the steering box. I think the headers were Hedmans. A local exhaust shop was able to make them fit, at the expense of the #5 tube being collapsed half way. Subsequent discussion with some friends about the closure of this tube revealed it would cause serious issues. So, I went to Art Morrison. He's 5 miles away from me. He said a Pinto rack and pinion would get rid of the steering box all together and provide the needed clearance. So I had him put one in. (Ironically, at some point after the rack was installed, I replaced the Hedmans with Hookers, and the #5 tube goes up and over the #7 tube to provide steering box clearance) So now, fast forward to about 2001. The 427 is back in the car and it's running fine. However, in my old age, I am far less acceptable of things that are unacceptable. While the rack steering worked fine, the turning radius of the car was that of a battleship! If you went through the Drive-thru at the local Wendy's, you had to get out to give the cashier the money! Every time I went somewhere, I had to think as though I was driving the 18-wheeler I drive at work. Unacceptable! So, I got a non power steering box and all the associated stock steering components to go with it, removed the rack, bolted everything in, and thought everything would be fine. NOT! Even tough it turned tighter, the center link now hit the truck oil pan on extreme right and left turns. The pan had worked fine with the rack, but a smaller 4 quart would be needed to provide clearance. So, I got one, had it red powder coated, and removed the engine to put it on. This was Thanksgiving 2010. Once the engine was out, I started to think of some other things I could do while the engine was out....... (continued)

Too tight with big truck oil pan.












427 BBC next to Bill Mitchell Hardcore 454 SBC
 

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Cool story Vetski! I bought my '73 Nova back in 1981 - a few weeks before I turned 16. It was a yellow color like yours, and I also put Cragar S/S rims and Gabriel Hi-Jackers on it. I drove the car through high school and college (stored it in the winters) and then parked it in my Dad's barn in 1987. I bought a house in 1991 and brought the car "home" in 1992. I did a complete restoration on it from '02-'05. Painted it Sunset Orange and built a 406 for it. It has an M-21 and 3.90 posi rear. I've had a lot of fun with this car over the years and will never get rid of it! Nova's rule! :chev:

pm
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Cool story PowerMax

I looked at both your 1973's. They're great! Loved that stocker. What a find!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Next installment..

I mentioned in my August 30 post about thinking about other things I could do while the engine was out. The first on my list was beefing up the bottom end. I mentioned I had built a 427 using a 2 bolt 454 block. I also used the 454 rods with 3/8" bolts. I hadn't upgraded them to a high performance bolt either. I was afraid of kicking a rod out at the 427's 7000 RPM ceiling. I wanted a 4 bolt block and good rods. So, I started looking around on Racing Junk, Craigslist, etc for a HiPo 454 or 427 that would have them. There's a lot of them out there, and the ads very often did not say whether the 454 or 427 they were selling had them. A lot of time was wasted on responding to ads that turned out to be LoPo passenger car engines that had what I already had. I knew about the parts-counter-only 502's. I'd read of the zz502 in Chevy mags. So, I researched GM performance's web site. I discovered 3 502's for sale; a truck 502, a 502HO, and the zz. Review of the parts list revealed they all shared the same block, rods, pistons, and crank. Cam, heads, intake, etc is where the differences were. So, I would simplify my search if a found a 502 for sale, as it would almost assuredly have what I was after. Using a Craigslist search tool (SearchTempest) that searched multiple Craigslist cities at the same time, I searched for a 502. Much to my surprise, there were a fair amount for sale! I found a short block for a truck 502 in the Sacramento area. The outfit I work for has a truck shop there. I asked a mechanic there to check it out for me. He gave it a thumbs up, so I sent him the $, he shipped it up to Auburn, and I took it home!



 

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That yellow Nova could have passed for my 74. In 1974 I ordered a new 74 SS with 4-speed, 3:55 posi, 350 engine, bench seats., yellow with black stripes. I also put on a set of cragar SS'S. Looked exactly like your picture.. Brought back a flood of memories.
 

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Thats awesome dude! The pics are great! I like how you have the original ad still too. I knew I wasnt the only guy out there that did that. :)

I bought my 1972 Nova at 15 years old and still have it today at 30 years old. It's morphed from a cruiser to a street/strip car over the years. My buddy and I did most of the work in our younger years, but I had the body redone professionally at a body shop about 7 years ago. We pulled the original 307 out and dropped in a 383. Since then I've changed the top end on the 383, but the bottom end is still the same.

I plan on keeping my car forever too. Glad to see you still have yours and are still doing things to it.

Check this out...



I saved the auto swapper I found my car in too, haha!

Great story man!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks

Great post dokks6t9. If you've any shots of your '74, I'd love to see them. I have seen precious few shots of cars like mine fresh from the factory. I have none of mine with the stock drive train.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Strip the 502!

The guy who sold me the short block raved about it. The shop guy, who looked it over on my behalf, gave it a huge thumbs up! However, when I got it, I was not as stoked. It looked like the owner had de-carboned the piston tops, as well giving it a quickie-hone. I could still see bits of carbon on the top rings, between the piston and the cylinders, reminants of the scrapping. So, the initial plans for bolting on my L72 heads and hitting the road were abandoned. I stripped it to bare block. The mains and rod bearings looked fantastic, and the crank was beautiful! I breathed a sign of relief. I took everything to Honest Performance in Federal Way. I asked Steve there to check piston to cylinder clearance, as well as cleaning the block and giving it a quality check as well. My hopes were the pistons were OK and a hone and a new set of rings would be all that was needed...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
cdahl383, thanks!

Glad you saved your ad too! It gonna be awesome to show people as the years go by.
I have to thank my Mom. One day, not long ago, she came over with a file she'd saved. You see, she (or my Dad) had to co-sign back in '78, and she had kept all the original purchase records, including the original salesman's business card! Funny thing about the dealership, Lakeside Pontiac/GMC. It was owned by the Johnson family. Not sure what happened with the Lakeside dealership, but the Johnson's moved south to Federal Way and bought the old **** Balch Chevy dealership. Changed the name to Vista Chev. I got friendly with Jim Johnson, who was running the parts dept then. I traded him a set of plastic Scott motocross boots for a new passenger side inner fender. Battery acid had eaten a bit of the original one. So, we got to be friends. They moved south a few miles and changed the name of the dealership to Jet Chev. Their folks retired, and now Jim and his brother Dan run the store. I still drop in and say hi from time to time, and they are great guys.
 
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