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1969 Chevy Nova 4-door
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi, I'm Alex. I'm 39, originally from NYC but now live in SW Connecticut. My wife is disabled and my 4-year-old son is disabled and autistic. Most days I act as a single parent holding a full-time job, so it's hard to find time to think or even work on my Nova. Here's the story:

I have a 1969 Chevy Nova 4-door with the 230 I6 and 2-speed powerglide transmission with 104K miles. It was bought brand new by my wife's grandfather's uncle from a dealership in Queens, NY. He traded in a 66 Chevy II.

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When the uncle passed away the car fell to my wife's grandfather, who changed the color from Olympic Gold to a dark blue. He's going to be 91 next month and decided a while ago that my wife and I could get the Nova when we could put it somewhere. When we finally bought our first house last year he gave me the keys and the DMV documents and now it's legally mine. I have no knowledge of how cars work, but I do enjoy them. I'm more of a computer and electronics guy. I'm now facing a problem.

This car was not properly maintained. I had a mechanic friend look at it and he says the engine needs too much and I should get it rebuilt or replaced. Basically, I'm leaking oil, leaking exhaust, leaking vacuum, burning oil, and burning coolant. The cooling fan on the radiator is apparently not clutched (whatever that means), the engine mounts need replacing, the radiator support needs replacing, I need a new PCV valve, new breather element, new hoses all around, new plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, points......

I'm having another mechanic friend meet me on Sunday to get a second opinion.

My dilemma is I don't know what to do. Ultimately, my goal is to get the car running, safe, and reliable. I don't care if it's pretty, it's never going to be a show car. I want to be able to drive it to work everyday if my other two modern cars go wrong (26 miles one way). I also want it to survive long enough for my son to drive it if and when he gets his license (minimum 12 years, likely longer). And the biggest hurdle? Money. I need to do this as inexpensively as possible. The only thing I have on my side is time. My wife's ok with the car sitting on the side of the house for a long time (I don't have a garage, just a driveway). As I see it, I have 4 options:

  • Fix the 230 I6 - Could be $500, could be $5,000
  • Rebuild 230 I6 and 2-sp PG - Already quoted at $6,000
  • Replace 230 I6 with SBC 350 - I can get engine for less than $1,000 but I don't know what else I would need to change; radiator, driveshaft?
  • Replace 230 I6 and 2-sp PG with SBC 350 and T350 - Same as above, inexpensive, but what else would I need to change?
I'm not willing to do an LS swap as I hear that can be as much as $10,000

A few people have told me to keep it as stock as possible as it's a "true survivor" but I don't know exactly what that means. Is that good? I'll never sell the car, so I'm not worried about resale value.

I did used to own a 2001 Trans Am, so I do miss the rumble of a GM V8...

I have no mechanical knowledge of experience and no tools. I preemptively bought a bunch of OEM parts, so I already have those.

I welcome constructive comments and opinions.

Video walkaround from this past summer here: New video by Alex L. Mermelstein
 

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Welcome to the site Alex.. You have a car that is a pretty simple and basic platform to work with. You can rebuild what you have or swap in a V8 with relative ease. These cars were originally delivered from the factory with 4, 6, & 8 cylinder engines and 2, 3, & 4 speed manual and automatic transmissions. You can pretty much go in whatever direction you desire. There will be different engine mounts and frame stand brackets involved for each type of engine but all the 6 & 8 cylinder hardware is readily available. 4 cylinders were not very common and are seldom seen today.
 

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1965
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Welcome to the site. that is a nice looking four door. I did not see any blue smoke nor was the engine making severe noise. I am curious as to why your friend said the engine needs to much...
I would find a trust worthy shop that likes these old cars and likes seeing people like you taking an interest in them have them. Keeping with your idea of making it safe have them check it completely over and give you a list of " needs right away" and a list of " this should be looked at at some point".
If you decide to do a V8 swap- well the sky is the limit as to how much you want to spend. A small block Chev will drop in with new engine mounts, a new radiator ( you may be able to use what is currently there), a better battery possibly ( more cranking amps) . If you do not want to start from scratch for a swap- It would be nice if you found a running chev car or truck and either pull the engine yourself or have a garage do it. That way you would have everything from oil pan to air breather. At the same time you could use the transmission from the donor as it would more than likely be a turbo 350 3 speed if you wanted to swap out your transmission as well.
You have a lot of options- welcome to the Nova brotherhood:cool:.
The most important thing is that there are a lot of people on this site eager to help out.
 

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That's a really nice looking more door. Keeping it stock is up to you as the value of a four door is significantly less than that of a two door. If it were me I would spend some time on this site, ask some questions and learn how to fix your car. The Nova is a pretty simple car to work on and the sixes were tough little motors. Are you sure its a 230 and not a 250 as both were installed that year. From the video it was running a little rough for a six. It should idle very smoothly, but the fix could be as easy as a thorough tune-up (plugs, wires, points, rotor, distributor cap, timing and maybe a carb rebuild).
 

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I assume none of the rubber parts have ever been replaced...hoses, brake lines, bushings, motor mounts for starters...you can pull spark plugs and if one is super clean leaking head gasket not a big deal...as long as the oil was changed regularly the bottom end is fine probably...you didn't say how the tranny was acting but a pg behind that motor should last forever
 

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Hi Alex. I have to say it sounds pretty good to me. As others has said, keep active on this site, search for info and maybe there is a member here that is near you that would be willing to give you some help. as mentioned I would replace all the water and vacuum hoses, flush the cooling system and do a brake inspection. This may require replacing the master cylinder and wheel cylinders as well as brake shoes. Make it safe first and foremost. Change all the fluids (oil, trans and diff). Do the simple stuff first and don't be afraid to ask questions. Looks like a car that you can enjoy for some time without breaking the bank. Enjoy!!!
 

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66 Nova SS
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Welcome aboard! take it slow, check one thing at a time, it looks like a pretty decent car, lots of info here.
 

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72, 2 Dr, 383, 700r4
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Welcome Alex, don't feel bad you have mostly found a site of guys that know these cars inside out but could not repair the complicated computer controlled vehicles except for some. Like others have said you got a very versatile platform that you can do a lot of things to.
 

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Welcome aboard! Very Nice car! Your Nova is the same "Dusk Blue" as my 1969 Nova. I suggest you check the oil and coolant that are now in the car to determine if there is actually a head gasket leak, Next, have an oil change and a compression test done before replacing things. Also, I would find or build a shelter for it. These old cars can quickly become rust pits if left outside.
 

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1969 Nova . . 2dr . . Chino Valley,Az USA
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Hi Alex , and WELCOME to SNS , with your 69 3rd gen Nova .

I , also have a 69 - 2dr , 250ci motor , was a stock powerglide trans (but, I swapped that out for a "stick -
shift tranny" .
My car was a Grandpa's car (I bought it from a friend at work . . . . was his grandpa's car) .
I even drove the car - - keeping it original for 17 - 18 years (but, in the last several years I have
been up-grading things . . . . to make it even better .
You may want too start looking around . . . you could find another "Six Motor" in better shape (everyone
wants a V-8 . . . . almost = not me ) .

"Six in a Row . . . . and, They Still GO " .

again, Welcome to SNS , stick around & enjoy . . . . . (y)

later , jim
 

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Welcome Alex. Car looks good and doesn't sound bad. Good advice already given on getting it in safe drivability condition.
Do the things you can and it doesn't take a lot of tools or parts to change the fluids, tune it and replace hoses.

Get someone reputable to advise you and take it one step at a time. Don't get discouraged and deep in your pocket with motor, transmission, radiators and rear differential changes until you know what you got.
 

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1968 Chevy II Nova, Central Arkansas
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Looks like they got $975 trade in for the 66 Chevy II. Electronics and computers are my weakness. If I had your skills I would be all over doing an LS swap. You can find a good LS truck motor about as cheap as anything else out there and the dependability and reliability of the LS would last in your car for generations to come. IMHO I wouldn't worry about messing up a "survivor" car unless it was a crazy rare vehicle.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Hello Alex and welcome to the site. Your 69 Nova looks to be in very good shape. A lot of great advise has been provided. What ever direction you chose, there are several members on SNS to assist with future questions.

Since you are pretty good with computers, I recommend you try to learn how to work on your Nova by reading and watching several internet articles and videos that are related to your car. I'm a big believer that you can learn almost anything if you have the time and dedication to devote to research. Auto repair books for earlier model Chevys can also be helpful.
Start off with one subject... for example, "How to do a compression check on an engine". Remember to read and view several different web articles and videos since each one may provide some additional... or different information. If you feel confident to proceed, get some tools and dig in (Note: some tools can be borrowed for free from places like AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts).
 

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That's a really nice looking more door. Keeping it stock is up to you as the value of a four door is significantly less than that of a two door. If it were me I would spend some time on this site, ask some questions and learn how to fix your car. The Nova is a pretty simple car to work on and the sixes were tough little motors. Are you sure its a 230 and not a 250 as both were installed that year. From the video it was running a little rough for a six. It should idle very smoothly, but the fix could be as easy as a thorough tune-up (plugs, wires, points, rotor, distributor cap, timing and maybe a carb rebuild).
I grew up in a 1970 Puke Green 6-banger. Great motor! TH-350 would burn rubber in 2nd and chirp in 3rd. 2 door.
Agree with all 'tune-up' posts 1st.
Check compression first. Look at the plugs. Only then, talk to a mechanic. (Rocket science didn't appear until OBD)
You need a proper fuel/air ratio thru the carb and spark... that's it.
 

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From the video it sounds fairly Good, It looks Pretty smooth on the idle fix the exhaust leak ,a good tune up , Where is the oil & water leak?? If that motor was burning water or Oil it would be smoking like a bandit. I'd say just take care of what miner stuff that is needed and Run it. Just my 2cents.
 
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