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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am back to Steve's Nova site after being gone about five years. Here is my original introduction that told of my history with my 69 Nova and cars in general:
http://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=153287

At the time of my introduction I was planning on building my 69 Nova into a Big Block 400 turbo drag car. On December 23, 2010 I made a decision that I have regretted many times since, I bought a second '78 Malibu and put the engine and trans and money and effort that were supposed to go into my Nova into it. I also got out of Monte Carlos when I had to sell my nice driver to fund the Malibu project. In 2012 started my journey into Tri-5 Chevrolets. I bought a 57 four door wagon and turned it into my daily driver. I also have been helping my Dad with a major restoration of a 55 Hardtop that is just now nearing completion. I have also restored a very nice 69 Nova SS 396 for a customer and a 1971 Impala Convertible as a flip project. All of this time My Nova has been neglected in the same Barn it has been sitting in for years. I am not sure what has been my issue that in 20 years my Nova has never been built; I have even gone so far as to tell my Dad that one of my children (I have two under two) will probably build it before me.

This week: A new year, my thoughts turn to my old Nova. Even though I am deep into my Dad's project and have plans to do some updates to my 57 wagon and am scheduled to begin the restoration of my '56 Bel Air Sedan I am thinking that this is the year that my Nova should run. What is the push I need to get it done?

I have a good friend who is similar to me, he has many old Chevys in various states of projectness. One he has never fooled with is his 1974 Chevy stepside that was his first vehicle given to him by his grandpa. So I propose "The First Car Challenge" We both work towards getting our first vehicles in a running/street legal condition as quickly and cheaply as possible, pure beater style. Rules are still being penciled out, but points are going to be given for first one done, least money spent, built for less than $2016, appearance, and a performance test ;). Any parts on hand don't count towards the total and the loser has to build the winner a trophy out of used car parts.

So far the start of my project. I have lots of take off that were not good enough for my Dad's Nova restoration and our customer restoration that I will be using. I have a spare th400 that I took out of my drag car when I put a trans brake unit in it. I have Nova ten bolt 3.73 posi rear end. The up in the air portion of the project is engine, part of me wants it to be big block because that is how I have always envisioned this car, but it won't be quick and easy like I am hoping this project will be.

This car is not going to be built to my standards, or to most of the guys on the site. Many of you might not like me throwing this car together without fully restoring, but the idea here is to get something that I can enjoy a little bit and later on down the road blow it apart for the full resto it deserves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Some more pics. Dads 55, My wagon at the Meltdown Drags in 2014. and my daughter in the shop with my Malibu behind her on her first birthday.
 

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Your Dad has a nice 55 and your daughter is a cute little girl. Reminds me of my granddaughters. Good luck with your Nova and welcome back around these parts.:yes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Found some more pictures I thought you all might enjoy. The first is another of my first Malibu this one has a small block. The second two are the 69 Nova SS I mentioned that we restored for a customer. This car is an original SS 396 375 Horse, M22, 12 bolt, bench seat, in these colors. He has the build sheet to prove it. Unfortunately engine is not numbers matching. It is a 69 block, but not a 375 horse and I think the heads were '70 oval ports. Trans is now an M20 and vinyl top was deleted.
 

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Sounds like a fun plan. I recently did the same to my 71. I was tired of seeing it sitting in the back yard for years. I basically put it together with spare Nova parts from my 70, craigslist, ebay and hand me down parts. Naturally, I did have to buy a number of parts, but kept the costs way down. Haven't added anything up, but I probably got it "done" for between $2-3000. I had to get seats, motor, trans, wheels, brakes, tires, all the small stuff. Still missing most of the interior, needs a windshield, and of course body/paint, but I can use it. I had it running within 8 months, but that first motor didn't last. I'm putting the second motor together now, in the same fashion, hope to have under $300 in the motor when it's done.



 

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I'm putting the second motor together now, in the same fashion, hope to have under $300 in the motor when it's done.
I remember those days when I would just hone the block, rering it, new bearings and throw a 480/280(230) Comp Cam in it and go out and have lots of fun running the old "double-hump" heads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well 5 years later and I decided it was finally time to pursue this dream. I got sidetracked in 2016 by the birth of my son, we sold our house and bought a farm. Then at the end of the year I decided to part out my big block Malibu and build a gasser out of a 1957 Chevy. I finished that in 2018 and have been busy racing it ever since. All of a sudden 5 years have gone by. But last Friday I had finally had enough!
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Here is the Nova in resting place of the last 14 years. We built this barn in 2007 and moved the car in as soon as it was finished. To me it looks the same as it did the day we put it in there, but I am sure it is a little worse for wear.
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I pulled it out front of the shop to give it a power wash and hot CLR scrub.
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A lot of the oxidation came off when I scrubbed it. It looked so much better I decided I needed to bolt on some parts I had stashed for it. I kept these wheels when I parted out the Malibu with this car in mind.
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Put a couple bolts in the front end. This will be the first time it has a front clip on it since I was 14 probably. 18 years.
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Just like that it already has the down and dirty 80s street racer look I envisioned for it.
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After this car basically looking the same all of my life to drastically change with just a little scrubbing and a few bolt on parts I am extremely motivated to continue working on it. Tonight I will move my gasser out of the garage and move the Nova in to start the process of getting this thing running and driving as cheap as possible. I have been constantly stashing and storing parts for this thing as the years have gone by and built it in my head so many times that it shouldn't take much to get it going. One of the things that surprised me was as a teenager I remember this thing being "really rough", but when I was looking it over the other day it is not that bad. I have so much experience since then, I basically built my gasser out of a roof and quarter panels, that a couple of floor pan patches seems like NBD.
The Plan:
Remove hacked up for pan patches I made when I was a teenager and install FB marketplace bought floor pans.
Buy new Trunk Pan and replace
Rebuild front suspension and install disc brake spindles removed off of a '74 Nova.
Pull subframe to clean and paint and install new subframe bushings (have on hand)
Install Frame Connectors
Minor Body work to front clip and Paint (Buff Colored Primer?. Flat Black?, or Flat Cream Yellow?)
When I started my gasser project I bought a 56 Chevy that had a straight axle under it to use and it came with a mild cast flattop 355 with World heads that I saved for this car and I have the 400 turbo switch pitch that was in the BB Malibu when I first built it. I also kept the driveshaft out of the Malibu. I plan to install all of that in the Nova. Unless I find a set of clutch pedals and z-bar cheap I might put a Muncie in it.
Rebuild 8.5 10 Bolt removed from '74 Nova 3.73 Posi.
I have a fuel cell and an electric pump leftover, will just need to make new lines
After that it is basically just plumbing the brakes which I have a booster and master for, cooling system, and pick through the original wire harnesses off of this car and other Nova's to find the best and wire it.

It doesn't sound too bad when I type it all out and I am so excited to get started on it. I have dreamed about driving this thing ever since that day I got off the school bus when I was 6 and Dad had it waiting for me in the backyard and now 26 years later that dream will finally be realized!
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Sounds like you have a solid game plan for getting your Nova back on the road.
Please keep us posted on your progress (... and maybe a few more pics) along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Been making some progress on the Nova. Got it moved into the shop last Monday night and started by replacing the upper a-arm bushings with some that I had bought years ago. I also started cutting out the floors including the poorly done patches I had made as a teenager to replace with my new pans. I did order a few parts: a new trunk pan and some Flat Cream Yellow Paint from Summit that I am hoping will match pretty good. Total dollars spent so far $170. I also arranged to buy a replacement tail panel off of FB marketplace for $50 and have my eyes on a set of traction bars. I have a couple days off this week so I am hoping by the end of the week to have the floor pans and trunk pan welded in. Also been going through old parts trying to find everything I had stashed back for this build. Lastly I have mostly disassembled the 8.5 I was hoping to use for this car. It unfortunately took on water and was in worse shape than I hoped. I knew I had to buy new gears and bearings, but the axles where rusted really badly as well. I still need to dissemble the posi unit and hopefully find it is ok. If it is ok I will try to clean up the housing, maybe steal the axles out of my original 8.2, and if they are not any good I will spend 10% of my budget to buy new Quick Performance hardened axles and reassemble with new gears and bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have the Floor Pans replaced and I am happy with how they turned out. This is the first time in my life this car has had solid floors.
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Cutting
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Fitting it seems like this part takes the longest.
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Pass side done, drivers side ready to be welded.
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Both sides welded and painted. These were older Goodmark pans I had bought from craigslist a few years ago. They fit really well.
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Trunk pan before. Marked to cut.
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New pan dropped in place to start fitting. This was an AMD pan I bought new and there were a few inconsistencies with the stamping, but nothing I couldn't make fit.
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Trunk welded up. If you look at the latch support you can see the next project I tackled, the tailpan. I will detail that in the next post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I didn't have plans to do the tailpan, but the more I looked at it the more I thought it needs it. It was dented up really bad, had some old body work that was cracking out, the bumper had been shoved into it on both sides.
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I didn't really take a "Before" shot of the tailpan, but this picture gives you an idea how rough it is. Luckily there was a new one on FB marketplace that I was able to get for $50. It turned out it was the same guy I had bough the floor pans from and I will probably be buying some more parts from before this is over with.
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Old one removed and ready to start fitting the new one. I cut the old one out in pieces and when I tried to fit the new one in whole I realized they don't fit in like that. So I had to remove the corner weatherstrip supports and bring it in from behind.
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Test fitting it in place. It fit pretty good. I have it welded in now, but don't have any finished pictures. Trunk closes and latches good and the taillights fit so I am happy.
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Most recently I got the front passenger fender welded up. I had cut these out 15 years ago and didn't have the skills then to patch them back. They turned out pretty good now. All that I have left to weld up now is a couple of patches on the back deck where the rear window sits. I also need to finish cleaning the underside and paint and seamseal down there. After that I have all of the parts purchased to make it a roller again. All new leaf spring bushings, frame connectors, ubolts, traction bars (used marketplace find), all brake components front and rear.
As for the 8.5 rear end rebuild I took apart my original 8.2 and the axles were flawless so I am going to stick them in the 8.5. I decided to go with new 4.10 gears, a rebuild kit, and new axle bearings and seals. I also bought a new forged front yoke that fits a 1350 joint, not necessary I know, but I was missing the straps and the shaft I have has a 1350 joint in it, so it made sense to me. I will also be using the whole brake assembly backing plates, drums and all from the 8.2. I am hopeful I will get the rear end rebuilt and back under the car here in the next week so I can start moving on to the funner stuff, like engine and trans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, I let that slip away from me. The thread that is not the Nova, I actually completed my goal of driving it in 2021 for around $2000 out of pocket. I am going to go back to where I left off and pick up the tale.
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Rebuilding the 8.5 10 Bolt was a major task it wasn't a great rear end when we got it with odd weld and grind marks on the axle tubes and booger welded spring perches, but it did have a 3.73 posi in it. Unfortunately after sitting outside for 10 or more years it was in terrible shape.
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After extensive cleaning, derusting, grinding, and welding I was finally happy with the housing. I cleaned up the original posi unit and luckily it was in good shape. Installed it with a new 4.11 gearset and bearing I purchased from Quick Performance.
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I installed the original axles out of the 8.2 with new bearings and hardened wheel studs. and with a little paint she turned out looking great!
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It took a lot of labor to turn Chicken **** into Chicken Salad, but for about a $350 investment in parts I have a perfect rear end for my goals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My dad tells a story on the car of a previous owner leaving it running and in gear and the car running rampant around town without a driver.
Before I tell the next part of the tale I have to back up a little. I quoted part of my original introduction post from 2010 (linked at the beginning of this thread). This year when I started back on the Nova I got curious about the history of the Nova Dad had always told this story to me about how he remembers this car from before he purchased it being in the newspaper for being in an accident with no driver. One day this spring after working on the Nova I decided to make a post seeing if anyone else remembered this event in a local "Memories of Growing Up" Facebook group. I have several replies of people remembering it instantly and within a few hours had a copy of the newspaper article of the incident from the daughter of the driver of the other vehicle.
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It was crazy to me to find that this story that my dad has always told me of my car was remembered by so many in my local community. Since the article was a clipping I unfortunately wasn't able to get a get a date or find a picture which my dad swears was also in the paper, but it is so cool just to have the clipping. I had been trying to think of a name for my Nova to give it that 80's Bracket Racer/ Street Racer Feel and a few days after confirming this tale on the way to the shop to work on it I got the song Little Runaway in my head. I burst through the door needing to get it wrote down before I forgot it.
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I quickly scratched it out with a sharpie on a piece of cardboard and decided I would do the same to the fender with a paint pen.
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After the fender gets body worked it will be refined obviously, but it was a great motivational factor for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Next I decided to pull the subframe out from under it. It had been out once before when I was a teenager, and I had the body mount holes patched up. It was actually under my dad's car when we painted it back in '07 since his frame was powder coated. Shortly after that the barn was finished and we threw the frame back under my car and put it in the barn. The frame had some damage in the engine cradle area that dad thinks must have happened when it was in the junkyard. I had bought another frame back in 2010, but it was actually out of a '70 Camaro so it wouldn't work, but I was able to use the trans crossmember out of it for my 400 so it worked out. This spring when I was picking up the tail pan I asked the guy about the frame under his '68 parts car. I was able to buy the frame along with some engine stands and then ended up selling the Camaro frame for the same money.
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It didn't look too bad from the top, but when I flipped it over you can see how bad it was. I'm glad I was able to find the replacement frame because I am sure LCA alignment would have been off.
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While the frame and rear suspension was out I spent some time under the car cleaning, seaming the new pans and painting.
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Looking good underneath and ready for parts to start going back on.
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New frame cleaned up painted and installed. next I reinstalled the rear suspension, with new frame connectors, monoleafs with new bushings, new traction bars, and rebuilt the rear brakes. No pictures of that I guess. This is when progress started to slow down for the summer. I race a 57 Chevy Gasser so my spare time and money is devoted to that during the summer months.
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I did find time to get the front suspension together, I used the original a-arms to the car rebuilt with new bushings and ball joints and converted to front disc with some spindles my dad had left over, no pictures of doing that either.
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In June I found some time to get the engine and trans together and get them sat in the car. The engine is a mild used cast flattop 355 with decent world sportsman heads that I got when I bought another car to build my gasser. The trans is a 400 "Switch Pitch" my dad and I built back in 2010 to go in this car actually. It spent a year in my big block '78 Malibu before getting replaced for a unit with a transbrake which is still going strong in Midnight Special.
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Engine sat down in the frame, looks like the only thing missing from making it a roller was wheel studs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
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Not long after getting the motor sat down in it, I officially got it back to roller status. After this the Nova officially got backburnered through the rest of the summer the next picture isn't until October where I finally got onto trying to make this thing run.
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Started getting some of the accessories put on early October.
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First Fire up was October 18. Developed a leak in between the intake and china wall after about 10 minutes of running.
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After pulling the intake I found this perfect little trail on the Chinawall. But I also found something else; Glitter! There was glitter all over the lifter valley and upon closer inspection I found, you guessed it, wiped cam lobes. Now in my defense I knew it was a gamble using this cam, it was a used Crane Energizer dated 1989 and when I got the engine it came with a box of lifters that weren't marked and I wasn't sure if they were new or used. I pulled the cam out and flushed the block out and slid yet another used cam in it. Except with this one I knew the history of it and knew what lobes the lifters came off of. Within a week I had it running again and now it has no leaks and no more metal in the oil. After getting the engine straightened out I set my sights on driving it during the month of NOVAvember
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Spent some time plumbing; bent and flared my own brake lines and transcooler lines and ran -8 AN fuel lines. I will admit when it came down to the wire some of this stuff didn't get finished.
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November 30th I completed my goal! Best thing was I was able to have my Dad along for the first ride! Windblown hair and all.
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From sitting in the barn rotting for 14 years to running and driving in 9 months! Still a lot to do, but felt good to drive it after dreaming about it since I was 6 years old (See picture below)
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I have been helping my dad catch up on some projects in December, but now am about to get back on the Nova to have it street legal by spring. I was working on getting a Big Block together for it, but I found yet another project car right around the end of November I couldn't pass up:
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It is a '71 Chevelle that I am going to clone into a '70. Since the Nova is already running and driving with the 355,400, and 10 bolt it makes more sense to put the BB I have been putting together in the Chevelle with a 400 and a 12 bolt. I plan on building the Chevelle very similar to the Nova and I am excited about both!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Picture you drew as a kid hits me…this is an awesome story and it looks like you have the skills to make it all happen. Good stuff.
Thank You! I haven't got back on the Nova yet, but am planning to soon. I want to get it street legal so I can drive it some this year.
 
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