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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy,

I'm thinking about buying a 1970 Nova as a daily driver and I could really use some advice.

The Car: (what I know so far)
Runs and drives, minor rust, original 350 V8 (rebuilt about 50,000 miles ago), auto transmission, includes new suspension parts, includes some new interior parts. Currently priced at $10,000.

Me:
I'm single, employed, mechanically inclined (but don't have experience with classic cars), my only backup would be motorcycles, I'm not looking for a show car, I live just north of Houston Texas.

Questions:
1. Should I daily drive a classic Nova?
2. Are these cars pretty reliable for every day use?
3. What should I look at or watch out for on these cars?
4. What would be a reasonable offer for a 1970 Nova?
5. Are parts readily available/reasonably affordable?

Any comments/advice/etc... would be greatly appreciated!

(I was going to post the link to the listing, but I have to wait until I've posted a few time before the forum will let me)
 

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1963 Hardtop W.I.P.
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Welcome to the club I purchased my 63(last Tuesday!) and joined the community last oct/nov myself. Been a car lover 35 years, finally got one of my dream cars. You sounds a little more skilled than myself. IT sounds like you want one Here's my 2 cents.

1. Should I daily drive a classic Nova?

Decide before you build, but plenty of people do. How far is your commute? freeway or surface? Also make sure you get the right insurance.

2. Are these cars pretty reliable for every day use?

Depends on how you build them, skill of the builder, and quality of parts. But you have to consider they are 40-50+ year old tech. How much are you going to upgrade, are you going to do a complete tear down or piece by piece? I'm basically updating my entire suspension, adding disk brakes, rack and pinion steering. Using Church Boys Racing (CBR) stuff I can do it piece by piece.

3. What should I look at or watch out for on these cars?

Rust, basically everywhere, but pan and rear quarters seem like the first to go. If you are concerned about hidden body damage people have suggested bringing a magnet to check for hidden bondo.

4. What would be a reasonable offer for a 1970 Nova?

Without seeing it, 10k seems high. Is it an SS, or does it have a rare option, nice paint?

5. Are parts readily available/reasonably affordable?

Here's all the links.
https://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=27286
Some are broke, but if its nova its there as far as I can tell. Also there are more original 70s parts cars around.
The big basics are Summit, Classic Industies, Jegs, SS396, probably a few im forgetting, they will be in that link.


Also Id suggest you join a couple of the facebook (Chevy Nova Nation is a must, very big(37k+ members), very active) groups and maybe the SBC group.

This is a pretty good community and people seem to be generally friendly and helpful, in my last 3 months of experience. And this site has just about everything you'd need, or a member who knows or who has done it.
 

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Also this should be in the 3rd gen forum or the General BS forum. FYI.

1st gen 62-65
2nd 66-67
3rd i think is 68 to 73 or 75?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the response.

I commute 30 miles (round trip) every day. About half the time that's on a motorcycle, the rest of the time it would be in the Nova.

I'm really not looking for a big restoration project. My goal is to do fairly minimal work before I start daily driving it. Over time I will, of course, continue to put time/money/labor into it. But I want to start driving right away.

It's not an SS, The paint job is not in great shape, no rare options. Looking into it, I do tend to think it's overpriced. I may have to keep looking.

Sorry about getting this in the wrong forum. If a moderator could move it to the 3rd gen area that would be great.
 

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Thanks for the response.

I commute 30 miles (round trip) every day. About half the time that's on a motorcycle, the rest of the time it would be in the Nova.

I'm really not looking for a big restoration project. My goal is to do fairly minimal work before I start daily driving it. Over time I will, of course, continue to put time/money/labor into it. But I want to start driving right away.

It's not an SS, The paint job is not in great shape, no rare options. Looking into it, I do tend to think it's overpriced. I may have to keep looking.

Sorry about getting this in the wrong forum. If a moderator could move it to the 3rd gen area that would be great.
Sounds like you're going to to keep it pretty mild so daily reliably shouldn't be a problem in my opinion. Build it for what you want to drive it for = reliability. That's the approach I am going to take with my motor (Upgrading the crappy 1963 suspension first). It will be pretty stock with maybe a cam and some head work, to make the V8 respectable.
 

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I agree with MRLAZE. The price seems too high for what it is (especially if it's a 4 door). Are you adamant that you must have a '70-'72 Nova? If not, look at the 4th generation Novas. They are significantly less expensive and look very nice if done correctly.
 

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I agree with MRLAZE. The price seems too high for what it is (especially if it's a 4 door). Are you adamant that you must have a '70-'72 Nova? If not, look at the 4th generation Novas. They are significantly less expensive and look very nice if done correctly.
It's definitely sounding like the price is too high on this one. I'll probably hold off and keep looking. (it's not a 4 door).

I'm not dead-set on a Nova in general, actually. Other than motorcycles, I've been driving an old Honda for a decade now. About a year ago I graduated from college, and now I've decided it's time to replace the Honda with something more fun/interesting.

My basic criteria are:
1. American Brand
2. v8
3. Rear wheel drive
4. Under $10,000
5. Bonus points if it's a classic
6. Manual transmission (There are only a few cars that I will consider even if they break this rule. Basically all of them are from the 1967 - 1972 range.)

(Oh yea, and it can't be a Dodge unless it's a '69 Charger... for obvious reasons).
 

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We built a 76 Nova for my son. He drives it almost daily to and from school and to the tech center. I have driven it 55 mile round trip to work. No issues with it being a daily driver. BUT...remember it is old and depending on what you have fixed and done to it...it will feel old on the road. In Texas you are not going to want to drive it in the summer without AC. We tried it here in the DFW area and it was not fun to drive in the heat of the summer. We added in aftermarket AC because it was easier than rebuilding and finding all the parts etc for our old one and because I really don't know anything about AC...so getting one with an instruction book in a kit form made the most sense.
Ours drives very good and straight but has rattles in a couple of places and doesn't like much over 80mph right now due to a couple reasons.
It started life as an Automatic...we put in a muncie 4 speed. Someday in the near future that will be a 5 or 6 speed.
Best way to do it...jump in with both feet...we knew nothing when we started and made some mistakes along the way...but had fun doing it.
As far as things to watch for...RUST...that is the #1 most time consuming and complex thing to fix. When I say rust, I am not talking about surface rust...I am talking about holes. The other thing to look for is amateur-ish wiring work...if anything electrical in the car looks crazy or if the lights don't work...just realize you could have a lot of troubleshooting to find the short, or bad wiring etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We built a 76 Nova for my son. He drives it almost daily to and from school and to the tech center. I have driven it 55 mile round trip to work. No issues with it being a daily driver. BUT...remember it is old and depending on what you have fixed and done to it...it will feel old on the road. In Texas you are not going to want to drive it in the summer without AC. We tried it here in the DFW area and it was not fun to drive in the heat of the summer. We added in aftermarket AC because it was easier than rebuilding and finding all the parts etc for our old one and because I really don't know anything about AC...so getting one with an instruction book in a kit form made the most sense.
Ours drives very good and straight but has rattles in a couple of places and doesn't like much over 80mph right now due to a couple reasons.
It started life as an Automatic...we put in a muncie 4 speed. Someday in the near future that will be a 5 or 6 speed.
Best way to do it...jump in with both feet...we knew nothing when we started and made some mistakes along the way...but had fun doing it.
As far as things to watch for...RUST...that is the #1 most time consuming and complex thing to fix. When I say rust, I am not talking about surface rust...I am talking about holes. The other thing to look for is amateur-ish wiring work...if anything electrical in the car looks crazy or if the lights don't work...just realize you could have a lot of troubleshooting to find the short, or bad wiring etc.
Thanks for the input.

A couple years ago the AC in my Honda died. I drove it that way for longer than I care to admit before I finally stopped procrastinating and just learned to rebuild it. I definitely prefer having an AC but, for the right car, I might be willing to live without it. (At least for a while. I could add an after market system later.)

How difficult was the conversion from auto to manual? I've considered going that route, but I'm not sure how expensive/time consuming/difficult it might be.
 

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Thanks for the input.

A couple years ago the AC in my Honda died. I drove it that way for longer than I care to admit before I finally stopped procrastinating and just learned to rebuild it. I definitely prefer having an AC but, for the right car, I might be willing to live without it. (At least for a while. I could add an after market system later.)

How difficult was the conversion from auto to manual? I've considered going that route, but I'm not sure how expensive/time consuming/difficult it might be.
I can relate... drove for a year in a honda accord with no AC. Sold it to my neighbor and he got it recharged up for 35 bucks! I felt like an idiot ha ha.

Auto to manual is not that bad. It is better to buy one with the transmission you want...but not that bad to switch. Challenge is you need the 3 pedals and clutch linkage. So you need to find them for your car (probably from a donor car) and then you are good to go. After that it is just putting in the transmission and any resulting changes to the driveshaft. You can see some pictures of us doing it on page 8 of our build. https://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=424858&page=8

Bottom line though is find a car you like and go for it. I would go and Check out your 1970 Nova and look it over good. If you have any classic car friends bring him or her with you to look it over with you. Even if you don't buy it, consider the shopping a learning experience. Many classic car owners love to 'educate' you on the nuances of their car. Some will go into great detail telling you every little thing that is right and wrong with the car. BTW Wear clothes that you don't mind getting a little dirty...that way you can lay down on the ground and look under it etc.

Make an offer you can live with...don't buy on emotion if you can help it, leave and come back if you have to. Most for sale by owner classics have quite a bit of wiggle room on the price, so don't hesitate to make a fair offer.
Also... Realize that everything costs more than you think!!! Save some money for all the things you will want to fix first on the car. And note that the 3rd gen has a great aftermarket selection of parts. Better than the 4th gens.

Good luck :)
 

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I can relate... drove for a year in a honda accord with no AC. Sold it to my neighbor and he got it recharged up for 35 bucks! I felt like an idiot ha ha.

Auto to manual is not that bad. It is better to buy one with the transmission you want...but not that bad to switch. Challenge is you need the 3 pedals and clutch linkage. So you need to find them for your car (probably from a donor car) and then you are good to go. After that it is just putting in the transmission and any resulting changes to the driveshaft. You can see some pictures of us doing it on page 8 of our build.

Bottom line though is find a car you like and go for it. I would go and Check out your 1970 Nova and look it over good. If you have any classic car friends bring him or her with you to look it over with you. Even if you don't buy it, consider the shopping a learning experience. Many classic car owners love to 'educate' you on the nuances of their car. Some will go into great detail telling you every little thing that is right and wrong with the car. BTW Wear clothes that you don't mind getting a little dirty...that way you can lay down on the ground and look under it etc.

Make an offer you can live with...don't buy on emotion if you can help it, leave and come back if you have to. Most for sale by owner classics have quite a bit of wiggle room on the price, so don't hesitate to make a fair offer.
Also... Realize that everything costs more than you think!!! Save some money for all the things you will want to fix first on the car. And note that the 3rd gen has a great aftermarket selection of parts. Better than the 4th gens.

Good luck :)
Your neighbor was lucky. My compressor seized up and I had to find a shorter belt and bypass it to keep driving. When I finally decided to fix it I had to take apart the whole system, flush the pluming/condenser/evaporator, replace the compressor/drier/expansion valve, add oil, pull a vacuum, and then I could recharge it. Now that I've done it once, I could probably do it again in half the time, but I'm hoping I never have to.

"Don't buy on emotion" is great advice. I made that mistake once with a motorcycle. Didn't turn out too bad in the end, but it took a LOT more work than I wanted to put into it.
 

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When I decided to move on and keep looking, I told the seller it was priced a bit high but feel free to contact me again if it lowers.

Today I got a message asking if I would go up to $7,000. So I'm back to considering the same Nova from the OP.

Last time I looked at this car I learned that it has an exhaust leak. It runs and drives, but is kinda gutless and sounds terrible. The seller said it needs a new manifold gasket.

I have a few more questions:
1. How hard is it to install an aftermarket AC? Ballpark, what is the cost of an aftermarket AC (just part, I'll do the labor).
2. What are the most critical upgrades, in your opinion, for a daily driver Nova (brakes? Suspension? etc...?)

Any thoughts/advice/opinions about the new price?
 

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AC costs are about 1600 for the kit and then figure $50 in odds and ends you don't have (like the belt, screws, bolts etc) and another 80-100 bucks to have it charged the first time. Note that if it was originally a non-ac car you may have a few more things needed. The kit pretty much included everything else for ours.
https://www.classicautoair.com/shop/1970-chevy-nova-air-conditioning-system/
It is a pretty easy install overall. You will want to remove your passenger side fender to get you access to that side of the firewall and remove your old heater etc. You will need to open up the dash. Basically drop down the steering wheel to get it out of your way, remove the screws for the dash and instruments etc...now you can see where everything goes.

As far as gutless, my first guess would be it needs a 'tune up'. New plugs and inspect the wires (may be running on 7 cylinders lol), set timing right and carb etc.

Fresh front brake pads at a minimum...if it is drum brakes then you may want to make that your first investment...disc brakes for the front at a minimum.
Next up you will want to probably tighten up the front end handling by replacing all the bushings, ball joints, new shocks, etc.
Of course you want to make sure all the basics work well, wipers, lights, signals, horn etc.
On the exhaust leak...if it is just the gasket then that is easy, but if the exhaust is all rusted out, just have it all replaced by a reputable muffler shop. That is one thing I would pay for the labor on if you do not have a lift.

Finally on price...at $7000 you are in the area that I might consider. It depends how much time and money you want to put into it and if you have the tools, ability, and desire to take on a project that you also want to drive. That means you have to live with problems sometimes that are 'in work' and realize you better have some tools in the car with you at all times until you have confidence in how well it is running etc. You got your bike as a backup so it is really up to you and if you would love the end result...if so you will put up with a lot to get there and willingly spend a lot of time on it.
 

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its going to be difficult to drive almost 50 year old car everyday to work an still work on it. theres alot of 50 year old parts that can go wronge on your way to an from work leaving you on the side of the road an late for work. just a thought look for a newer A/C car to drive every day. then you look for the nova you want with A/C an i better condition.
 

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If i didnt say it before ill say it again, join some of the Nova facebook groups. Im in about 7 now. There's always cars for sale and you can get a better idea of pricing and may find a car that's not listed publicly. Also people will say if it's too high or a good deal, etc.
 
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