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I recently bought a 71 with a 454 already installed, and was told all I had to do was wire it up, get shorter valve covers,and a paint job! Well... after looking closely, the headers hit the steering box and I have read threads on here about these problems, unfortunately they are old threads and some said you don’t need the offset mounts and some say they are definitely needed. Also I have a 4 Spd and the other threads I saw were all about auto. trans. Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated! I am tempted to just get a small block!
 

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I recently bought a 71 with a 454 already installed, and was told all I had to do was wire it up, get shorter valve covers,and a paint job! Well... after looking closely, the headers hit the steering box and I have read threads on here about these problems, unfortunately they are old threads and some said you don’t need the offset mounts and some say they are definitely needed. Also I have a 4 Spd and the other threads I saw were all about auto. trans. Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated! I am tempted to just get a small block!
I recently bought a 71 with a 454 already installed, and was told all I had to do was wire it up, get shorter valve covers,and a paint job! Well... after looking closely, the headers hit the steering box and I have read threads on here about these problems, unfortunately they are old threads and some said you don’t need the offset mounts and some say they are definitely needed. Also I have a 4 Spd and the other threads I saw were all about auto. trans. Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated! I am tempted to just get a small block!
Hi, Eric. I have a '70 Nova with a big block and had the same issue. What I did was take about 1/16 off of the steering box where it mounts to the frame. It still mates up to the rag joint perfectly. If your car is already in one piece, I would mark the header with a sharpie where it contacts the box. Remove the header and carefully dent the tubing with a hammer striking the back of a ballpein hammer so the round end does the denting. As proven on Engine Masters, this small dent will have virtually no impact on performance.
 

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It has a dent in it already, and the shaving the steering box is a great idea. I read a bunch of people saying that when they did the swap they used mounts that move it to the passenger side. And some people said you don’t need to do that. My concern with that is the alignment to the rear. I also read about an offset trans mount and something about the rear being offset an inch? This may sound stupid but won’t that make the car track funny? I know these cars came with big block engines so there has to be an easy way to fit the motor the right way without problems. I have built and worked with a ton of small block engines but this is my first big block! I will try and send a few pictures too, sometimes it’s easier if you just see the issues. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!
 

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Nice pictures, Eric. Your Nova looks clean. What I did with mine is run the OEM style big block valve covers with what is known as a slant on the driver's side valve cover. Muscle Car Central sells a cheater pair for 59.95 that looks like original but they're 1/2 inch taller than stock to clear roller rockers. Plus they have the slant to clear your power booster - just like the factory did. If you can, goggle engine masters and look up the episode about denting headers. They almost crushed the header before any change in output. Since the engine is already in the car, it appears you will have to just dent the tube in more - just enough to clear the box. The factory didn't have this issue due to original equipment exhaust manifolds. Looks like you have a vintage Edelbrock Torker intake manifold. Very cool. Good luck, Eric.
 

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Nice pictures, Eric. Your Nova looks clean. What I did with mine is run the OEM style big block valve covers with what is known as a slant on the driver's side valve cover. Muscle Car Central sells a cheater pair for 59.95 that looks like original but they're 1/2 inch taller than stock to clear roller rockers. Plus they have the slant to clear your power booster - just like the factory did. If you can, goggle engine masters and look up the episode about denting headers. They almost crushed the header before any change in output. Since the engine is already in the car, it appears you will have to just dent the tube in more - just enough to clear the box. The factory didn't have this issue due to original equipment exhaust manifolds. Looks like you have a vintage Edelbrock Torker intake manifold. Very cool. Good luck, Eric.
Thanks! I do appreciate all the help! So it doesn’t sound like it’s worth pulling the engine and putting in different engine mounts/stands? If you look at the passenger side picture, that header would give me issues too if it was moved over? Also an air cleaner with my intake isn’t going to fit so I was going to go with a cowl hood. Does anybody know if there is an air cleaner that works to seal to the hood so the cowl induction would work properly? My old Chevelle had the cowl induction and there were parts for that, but wanted to know if anybody has done this on a Nova? I always heard of the problems using big block motors, so I have always gone small block to avoid these issues! But I have always loved the sound and the power of a big block! Are there any other potential issues I should watch for? Any knowledge from my big block Nova friends is really appreciated!
 

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I also ground down the corner of the steering box where it touches to header tube, and replaced the OEM standard size hex head bolt with a bolt with a smaller head, a "header" bolt.
That gave me a bit more room, along with bending the nearby header tube inward with heat and a hammer.
 

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Thanks! I do appreciate all the help! So it doesn’t sound like it’s worth pulling the engine and putting in different engine mounts/stands? If you look at the passenger side picture, that header would give me issues too if it was moved over? Also an air cleaner with my intake isn’t going to fit so I was going to go with a cowl hood. Does anybody know if there is an air cleaner that works to seal to the hood so the cowl induction would work properly? My old Chevelle had the cowl induction and there were parts for that, but wanted to know if anybody has done this on a Nova? I always heard of the problems using big block motors, so I have always gone small block to avoid these issues! But I have always loved the sound and the power of a big block! Are there any other potential issues I should watch for? Any knowledge from my big block Nova friends is really appreciated!
Hey, Eric. On my Big block I have to run a 2” cowl hood to clear my intake also. I have the original style open element air cleaner. As far as a proper cowl air cleaner assembly, I would have to guess one for a 69 Camaro with a 2”cowl would certainly be close.
 

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Thanks for all the help! Grinding that stuff down does seem like it will help but to do that I will have to pull the motor anyway and at that point I will have clear access to change the mounts. Doing that seems like I will have even more issues with the trans mount and rear, so If I can make it work with the other mounts that seems like less work to get it to fit! The more I look the more issues I am finding. Now it seems like half of the engine wiring isn’t there either! I would be really pissed about this stuff if it wasn’t for how nice the body and frame were. Also it came with new disc brakes and all new suspension so what I paid will still be worth it. It looks like I am going to have to get either a new engine compartment wiring harness or just do a whole new wiring harness for the whole car! If I get the engine compartment wiring harness I want to get something that will work with OEM so if I do decide to do the rest of it later it will match up. I have heard painless is the easiest to install but won’t match with the original fuse box. Does anybody have any suggestions on that part of the build? I ordered a wiring diagram to see what all is missing, to see if it’s worth rewiring the whole thing. Thanks again!
 

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I recently bought a 71 with a 454 already installed, and was told all I had to do was wire it up, get shorter valve covers,and a paint job! Well... after looking closely, the headers hit the steering box and I have read threads on here about these problems, unfortunately they are old threads and some said you don’t need the offset mounts and some say they are definitely needed. Also I have a 4 Spd and the other threads I saw were all about auto. trans. Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated! I am tempted to just get a small block!
Headers can be modded severly with little /no perf compromize, per Hot Rod Garage tests done a few yrs bak. Should still b avail on youtub, also entertaining..........
 

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Headers can be modded severly with little /no perf compromize, per Hot Rod Garage tests done a few yrs bak. Should still b avail on youtub, also entertaining..........
Eric, your Nova looks nice. Great color! Forget about painless wiring - that's for street rods and customs. Go to Lectric Limited website. They build exact oem harnesses for every Nova combination. And, they're built right here in the USA. They will have exactly what you need.
 

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I think the word should get out about headers that don't fit so that others don't buy them.
I cut away the problem tubes and reroute them.....there is always room.
I use flex tube for my mock-up, remove the header and make the changes using cut up U-bends.
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Deja Vu! I did the same conversion back in the day when I put a 396 into my '71. It had power brakes and steering as well. I had to knock the headers around using a wood block and big hammer, and ran chrome Edelbrock valve covers. I believe you could get the big block frame brackets that go under the motor mounts which would move the engine up, but I wouldn't do it. Just use a block of wood or brass punch and move your headers around to fit as well as the changes suggested and you'll be all set.
 
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