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'Twas the Night before Rice-mas - Volume 3, Issue 12 - December, 2003

I posted this last year and I still find it funny so I'll repost it here. Enjoy.

'Twas the night before Christmas and caught at the light,
Was a domestic V8 and no cops in sight,

I will try, I will try, I will try with this small motor,
To beat this darn Nova, even with its big blower,

As the light goes green and I pull like no joke,
The Nova erupts in clouds of tire smoke,

Now Smasher, now Rev-ver, now Stroker, now Blitzin,
These are the names of my four VTEC pistons,

Racing ahead I'm the star of the action,
But I know I'm in trouble when that V8 gets traction,

Grabbing second, I hear the RPM sing,
My mirror is blocked by my shopping cart wing,

I now hear the roar, of that big monster gaining,
All I can do is keep that four banger straining,

In a second, the shockwave hits with a blast,
And my stickers go flying now, a thing of the past,

Don't bother with third, cause now its too late,
Just try to act cool, like you can relate,

Looking up at the taillights as they get smaller,
The driver backs off just to give me a holler,

"You can't win them all," he says in a fling,
"You may not win any, in that silly thing."

I smiled and revved as he pulled out of sight,
With my new mods tomorrow..... it will be a better night.

(Author unknown)

Happy Motoring!

Popular Novas - Volume 3, Issue 11 - November, 2003

While updating the website this month and adding new cars to the galleries I wondered what was the most popular Nova If you define popularity by the number of cars sold when new, the 1974 Nova tops the charts with over 390K. One would think the 1966 or 1967 Nova would be tops but the 1966 lists in 15th place out of 18 and 1967 lists in 17th place out of 18 with only the 1979 Nova selling less (NOTE: the 1979 Nova was only built for about 4 months before it was killed off). Here's the list:
1. 1974 = 390K
2. 1963 = 370K
3. 1973 = 369K
4. 1977 = 365K
5. 1972 = 349K
6. 1976 = 334K
7. 1962 = 326K
8. 1970 = 307K
9. 1978 = 288K
10. 1975 = 272K
11. 1969 = 251K
12. 1971 = 194K
13. 1964 = 191K
14. 1968 = 183K
15. 1966 = 172K
16. 1965 = 122K
17. 1967 = 106K
18. 1979 = 97K

Since selling new cars is different than classic cars, I thought I would take a very un-scientific approach and count the number of cars in each gallery here. That should tell us what Nova fans are buying, restoring and building. So does the popular 1966 Nova come in first? Actually, no, it came in a distant 2nd. So what year had the most? The 1973 Nova. WHAT? Yes, 1973 with 45. That's 11 more than 2nd place 1966. Even more interesting is 1976 came in 3rd only 1 behind 1966. Here's the count as of November 1, 2003:
1. 1973 = 45
2. 1966 = 34
3. 1976 = 33
4. 1970 = 27
5. 1972 = 26
6. 1971 = 25
7. 1967 = 24
7. 1974 = 24
9. 1963 = 19
10. 1969 = 18
11. 1965 = 16
11. 1977 = 16
13. 1962 = 15
14. 1975 = 14
15. 1978 = 11
16. 1964 = 10
17. 1968 = 9
18. 1979 = 7

Now, granted, they made a lot more 1973 and 1976 Novas compared to 1966 but it makes me wonder, if people are buying, restoring, building and loving these "forgotten" models, why aren't they more popular in magazines, car shows and with aftermarket parts? Yes, I know some people think the pre-73 cars look better but there is no denying that a lot of people have 1973-79 Novas. Just look at the difference between 1963 and 1973 Novas. Both are close in original production: 370K for 1963 and 369K for 1973, yet there are 45 1973 Novas sent to me for the gallery (1st place) vs. only 19 for 1963 (9th place).

Where are all these people? I rarely see a post-72 Nova at cars shows except for mine. All you post-72 Nova owners need to come out of hiding and make yourselves known and heard. This is how we will get respect, recognition and the parts companies to build us parts. Don't be afraid or ashamed that you don't own a "popular" Nova because if you look at the numbers I posted above, you do own a popular Nova.

4th gen Nova owners know that we don't have to worry about front disc brake swap since every 1975-79 Nova had discs. Also, we have the revised front suspension that the Camaro was using since 1970. Be proud and be loud about your Nova no matter year you own. All Novas are great and that's a fact.

Happy Motoring!

What's my Nova worth? - Volume 3, Issue 10 - October, 2003

There's a loaded question. I get those types of emails all the time. I don't like to tell someone how much their Nova is worth for a number of reasons. First reason is, it's almost impossible to value a car you can't see. Even if someone sends pictures it's still difficult since you can't see everything especially the hidden areas under the car where rust likes to start. Ever hear the term, 20-footer or 50-footer? That means the car looks great from 20 or 50 feet away but as you get closer, the flaws start to appear. Since most people stand back about 20 feet from a car when they photograph it, pictures are worthless.

The second reason is many people feel they car is worth much more than it actually is. When I tell them a realistic price, they get mad at me and start to argue. Sure, they may have put $10,000 into the car but that doesn't mean the car is worth $10,000 or more. The whole is usually never worth the sum of its parts.

Lastly, I don't like to give out values because the market is always changing. What's current now may not be a month or two from now. The popularity of some cars rise and fall and the price rises and falls accordingly. Also, the economy of the country goes up and down and can change the value of a car. I don't have time to track current pricing.

That's why when people ask me to value a car, I send them here: They list just about every classic car and have values based on the condition of the vehicle as well as the options it does or does not have. The first thing to do is to determine the condition of the vehicle using their condition guide. Then find your make, model and year. Use the base price listed for the condition and then add the percent for additional options.

I hope that helps your determine what your car may be worth. However, that's still just an estimate as the true value is only what someone else is actually willing to pay your for it. That may me more or less than the VMR guide says.

Happy Motoring!

Special Suspensions - Volume 3, Issue 9 - September, 2003

I thought this month I would talk about the special suspension packages offered on the Nova. The F40 suspension that was standard on 1968-76 SS Novas but optional on any Nova. It was basically just stiffer springs. When mono-leaf springs were standard, the F40 got multi-leafs. When multi-leafs became standard, the F40 added extra leafs. There was no "F40" springs because the springs were determined by computer based on what options the car had. There were literally a dozen or more spring part numbers with differing amounts of load ratings. For example, a base 6-cylinder Nova with no options other than the F40 suspension would have different springs than a V8 Nova with A/C and the F40 suspension. In the same way, a base 6-cylinder Nova with no options other than the F40 suspension could have the same springs as a V8 Nova with the base suspension.

The F41 package was a little different. Early on it was only available on the SS (1968-72) and it was yet another set of springs (1968-69). For 1970 it changed to being special front and rear shocks and anti-sway bars. The standard suspension front anti-sway bar was .6875" (11/16") but the F41 front bar was .8125" (13/16"). F41 also added a rear .5625" (9/16") anti-sway bar. For 1973-74, the equipment didn't change but the availability did. The F41 was now available on non-SS cars as long as front disc brakes were ordered. With the revised chassis of the 1975-79 Nova, the F41 packaged was revised too. It was now available on any Nova as disc brakes became standard in 1975. The shocks were still special but the front anti-sway bar grew to 1" compared to the standard .875" (7/8") bar and the .9375" (15/16") bar used on the Concours and Customs. The rear anti-sway bar remained the same at .5625" (9/16"). Lastly, 14x7" rims became part of the 1975-79 F41 package.

The Nova F41 suspension was similar to the Camaro Z28 and made the Nova as good at the Camaro when it came to turning corners. The F41 also became the platform on which the 9C1 Nova Police Package was built upon. The Nova Police car was very good and served police departments well for many years. This is just another example how the Nova was able to do all and be all when properly equipped.

Happy Motoring!

Disc Brakes - Volume 3, Issue 8 - August, 2003

Another frequently asked question is about adding disc brakes. While the process is very well documented ( 1962-67, 1962-67 and 1968-74) there is come confusion about using 1975-up Nova parts and 1970-81 Camaro parts. 1967-69 Camaro share the same front subframe and suspension as 1968-74 Novas. 1970-81 Camaros share the same front suspension and a similar (but not exact) front subframe as 1975-79 Novas. While all 1975-up Novas got front disc brakes the suspension parts do not interchange with the earlier Novas. The reason for this is that the steering changed in 1975 for Novas (in 1970 for Camaros). The steering box and linkage was moved from behind the front wheels and subframe crossmember to in front of the front wheels and crossmember. This is why 1962-74 Novas are called "rear steer" and 1975-79 Novas are called "front steer".

Earlier Novas also have a 2-piece spindle where the steering knuckle can be unbolted from the spindle. This is why you can use parts from 1972 and earlier "front steer" cars like the GM A-bodies (Chevelle, Cutlass, GTO, etc). By unbolting the steering knuckle, you can change it to "rear steer". 1975-79 Novas not only have a 1-piece spindle but the spindle itself is taller than earlier Novas.

While all this makes it harder for earlier Novas to get disc brakes, there is some good news. All the kits to install aftermarket disc brakes on 1967-69 Camaros (and most kits for 1972-earlier A-bodies) can be used for 1968-74 Novas. In reality, anything for 1967-79 Camaro front suspension can be used on 1968-74 Novas. That includes shocks, bushings, sway bars, even complete replacement subframes. And for 4th gen Novas, all 1970-81 Camaros front suspension parts will work. The only exception would be replacement subframes because they do differ.

Happy Motoring!

The future of the hobby - Volume 3, Issue 7 - July, 2003

I like to attend local cruise nights much more than judged shows. I like to drive my Nova more than cleaning every inch of it so it's not really "show quality". There are small chips in the paint and the rust monster has slowly started to eat again at the rear quarters. It's not bad yet but in a few years I'll have to redo the quarters. However, having an imperfect car allows me to enjoy the cruise nights more. A quick wash and the Nova is ready. I'm able to walk around and look at the other cars instead of constantly cleaning or worrying about the car.

One thing I see more and more at cruise nights are child car seats in the back of the cars. That means a lot more young children are being brought with their parents to the shows. I think this is great for the hobby and gives kids an early look at some early iron. I hope this gets them interested in older American car instead of the Import craze but even if they do go for Imports, at least it gets them started in the hobby early. This will help the hobby continue to grow.

While this is all well and good, there are some down sides. Mostly it's the kids not being watched by their parents or not being taught the etiquette. I see kids all the time touching and leaning all over the cars. Worse yet are the kids with bikes or scooters zooming in and out between the cars. I'm all for kids attending shows and I intend to start bring my daughter but let's leave the bikes and scooters at home and please teach you kids not to touch the cars. It's sad that I actually have to bring this up but I guess it's because some adults don't even know the etiquette.

Bottom line: bring your kids and teach them all about cars. Help them learn about your hobby and you will grow closer to your kids. Just let's keep an eye on them because I know kids will be kids but the owners have worked as hard or harder on their car and don't want accidents to happen.

Happy Motoring!

More good news for 4th gen owners! - Volume 3, Issue 6 - June, 2003

Back in March and July of 2002 I wrote about Hot Rod picking the 4th generation Nova as one the best deals for a project car. This was the first time a major magazine recognized the potential of 1975 thru 1979 Nova and other X-bodies. Now, in the June 2003 issue of Car Craft, the editors have chosen the 4th generation Nova as "One of the best picks for your first street machine." They wrote:
'75-'79 Novas: "Disco Novas," basically second-generation Camaro/Firebirds under the skin, are affordable and fairly plentiful. We still see them making the commute around town, and they can be had for a reasonable chunk of change. All came with disc brakes and the sturdy 8.5" 10-bolt rearend, and V8's drop in as easily as with the earlier-style Novas. We're frankly surprised we don't see more people building these "late-model" X-body Novas. Yet.
This is more great news for us 4th gen owners. I hope to see more aftermarket companies stepping up to help 4th gen owners by building parts. Like I wrote after the Hot Rod article, if you are a 4th gen Nova owner you should write to Car Craft and tell them to do more stories and build-ups on these cars. Get them to convince the aftermarket companies that there is a market for 4th gen parts. Here is their address and email address:

Car Craft Magazine
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
fax: (323) 782-2263
voicemail: (323) 782-2018

Happy Motoring!

The L6 vs V8 Controversy - Volume 3, Issue 5 - May, 2003

I frequent a few Nova bulletin boards and one of the most common questions I see is about hopping up a six-cylinder engine. It's usually someone who has a Nova with an L6 and wants to go faster but doesn't have the money to do a V8 swap. Since I was in that position when I got my Nova and did hop up my L6, my advice has always been, don't do it.

Recently I gotten a lot of heat from people about my advice. Always from people with L6 Novas. First I'd like to say to these people, it's my advice and if you don't like it, tough. Someone asked my advice and I'm giving it. It may be different from your advice but I wish someone would have told me not to do it way back when and I'm sure some of the people asking now will thank me for my advice.

Let me make one thing clear first. There is nothing wrong with doing an L6 engine. There are plenty of really fast L6 cars. Also, the L6 is a very strong and smooth-running engine that makes a great daily driver. So, why do I tell people not to hop up L6 engines? It's because 99% of the people asking really want a V8 and are only hopping up the L6 because they don't have the money yet to do a V8 swap. If that is the case, you are wasting money making the L6 go faster while saving for the V8. Think about this. How do you save money by spending it on expensive hot rod parts that can't be later used on a V8 engine? Things like aluminum 4-bbl intakes and headers are twice as much for L6 engine as they are for V8 engines and they can't be used on a V8 later. My advice is to tune-up the L6 and get it running good and save for the V8 you really want.

With all that said, if what you really want is a hot rodded L6 engine, then by all means, go for it. They are very smooth engines and make lots of torque. Just be warned that speed parts will cost more and you will probably be running slower dollar per dollar than a V8.

Bottom line, if you want a 6, do it. If you really want a V8, save your money! Spend your money only on things that will keep the engine running well. If you want to make it faster, only spend your money on things that can be used with the V8 later. Things like a posi and rear gears, transmission work, an upgraded ignition system like an MSD box and coil, a fiberglass hood, etc.

Happy Motoring!

A Message from the Administrator - Volume 3, Issue 4 - April, 2003

I would like state my support for all our fighting men and women stationed here and overseas. I would also like to state my support of President Bush. I do not like war but I realize it is sometimes necessary to protect our freedom. I pray this war ends quickly and with as little loss of life as possible.

God Bless America!

Happy Motoring!

RPO-U17 Special Instrumentation Package - Volume 3, Issue 3 - March, 2003

Some people call it the Gauge Package. Some call it the In-dash Tach. Others incorrectly call it the SS-dash. But from 1968 until 1976 the RPO-U17 option was a set of extra gauges that helped build the sporty image of the Nova.

First I want to clarify that RPO-U17 was NOT part of the Super Sport option. It was available on any V8 equipped Nova those years. The Special Instrumentation Package did include 4 extra gauges: a tachometer, an ammeter, oil pressure and water temperature. The tach was placed to the left of the speedometer in the location where the fuel level gauge was normally placed. This was to make it easier for the driver to see (when in reality, it was really too small to see and mostly blocked by the steering wheel). Because the fuel level gauge was replaced by the tach, it was moved to the console with the other 3 new gauges. The gauges were all electrical, so there is a special, additional wiring harness need to power them. You will notice that I said the gauges were located on the console. This means that if you wanted the U17 Special Instrumentation package you also had to order the RPO-D55 Front Compartment Floor Console. And since the floor console wouldn't fit with a bench seat, you also had to order RPO-A51 Bucket Seats. All these requirements made the U17 package a pricey option.

While the Nova console changed in 1975, the 4-gauge pod that bolted to the console stayed the same for all 1968-76 Novas. It was also almost identical to 1967-69 Camaros except that Camaro had silver-faced gauges while Novas were black. Aside from the color differences, 1967-69 Camaro and 1968-76 Novas pods will physically interchange. The gauge pod for automatic and manual consoles are also the same. Consoles could be ordered without the gauge package and a block-off plate was bolted to the console in place of the gauge pod.

The Special Instrumentation package was available on V8 equipped Nova only, but since there were many different V8 engines available, this required different tachometers. If you ordered U17 with a small-block you got a 5,000-rpm redline tach. If you ordered U17 with the L34, 350-hp big-block you got a 5,500-rpm redline tach. And if you ordered U17 with the L78, 375-hp big-block you got a 6,000-rpm redline tach.

The instrument cluster itself changed in 1975. The fuel gauge and clock became round instead of square and the corresponding 1975-76 tach became round as well. The speedometer went from 120-mph down to 100-mph (120-mph for cars equipped with the 9C1 police package) . In 1977 the Nova instrument cluster got a complete redesign. The "sunrise" speedometer was replaced with 4 round gauges. Depending on optional equipment, the 4 gauges could be a few different things. The second hole (from left to right) was always the speedo (80-mph). The standard, no option gauges cluster was the speedo in the second hole and a large fuel level gauge in the third hole. Holes 1 and 4 were just circles with idiot lights arranged in a circle. One option was the RPO-U14 Special Instrumentation package. This was a tachometer in the 3rd hole, the fuel level gauge was moved to the top of the first hole with a voltmeter below it. In the fourth hole was a water temp gauge on top with a clock below. Another option was the RPO-UF7 Fuel Econominder gauge package. This was basically the same as the U14 package except a Fuel Econominder gauge (basically a vacuum gauge) was in the third hole instead of a tachometer. Because all the extra gauges could now be placed in the instrument cluster, there were no need for console mounted gauges.

Some people love to install these gauges in their Nova but it's more than just a bolt in install. The gauges are expensive, not very reliable and hard to read. A better option in my opinion (except for a correct restoration) is to buy a new panel made by Autometer that fits the factory consoles and allows you to install 2" electrical or mechanical modern gauges. This panel even angles the gauges towards the driver.

Happy Motoring!

Overlooked Resto - Volume 3, Issue 2 - February, 2003

Here is some good info from a guy I know that is a regular contributor on Steve's Chevy II Nova Q&A bulletin board. Phil is his name and what he has to say is excellent reading, especially since many are finishing up restorations at this time and getting ready for the summer shows. Read on:

I have a 67 and like most, I run across small things overlooked when restoring the car. Here are some "small" things I have noted that may be overlooked. I would suggest one to buy an assembly manual before starting the restoration. If you have some other overlooked items to add please list them here for others to be on the lookout for.
  1. Replacing the upper and lower steering column bearings. The lower usually is shot.
  2. Replacing the clutch pedal rod firewall boot and column boot sponge. Usually these are deteriorated and can let engine fumes etc. into the cab.
  3. Replacing or lube the speedo cable.
  4. Replacing the pitman arm bearing. Usually worn.
  5. Replacing/adding steering box grease.
  6. Replacing door hinge pins/bushings.
  7. Cleaning/refurbishing the fuse box fuse contact surfaces. Install the correct size fuses.
  8. Polishing the instrument cluster lens or replacing it with lexan or plexiglass. Cleaning all the bulb contact surfaces and replacing the instrument bulbs "before" installing the instrument cluster.
  9. Cleaning/refurbishing the window crank mechanisms.
  10. Cleaning the heater fan blower wheel and lube the linkages/cables.
  11. Cleaning the fan/heater control cables at the rear of the dash control.
  12. Removing leaves/debris from behind the kick panels. This will stop up the drain hole under the cars rocker panel outlet.
  13. Inspecting the fuel tank for rust and replace the screen "sock" on the sending unit fuel pipe pick up, if needed.
  14. Cleaning/lube parking break mechanism and cables.
  15. Replacing door jamb courtesy light switch. Most are worn out. These are available at NAPA.
  16. Inspect and if bad replace the spring "perch" on the upper A-arm for the rubber bushings are usually shot.
  17. Inspect the brake light switch (at pedal) for proper install and operation.
  18. Check and replace upper clutch and brake pedal bushings if worn.
  19. If straight stick, check the Z bar for cracks around the welds at the ears and also the nylon bushings inside for cracks. Grease the Z bar.
  20. Replace the pilot bearing with a GM bronze one, if worn.
  21. Replace the wiper motor firewall seal.
  22. Check the cigarette lighter for operation and bad contacts.
  23. Inspect the wiring cable ends and female plugs at the firewall. These can cause electrical problems and erratic happenings with lights, etc. I cleaned the pins with a small knife and small wire brush about the size of a toothbrush. The contacts came out nice with a brass finish.
  24. Check the wiper blades for proper swing making sure they don't scratch that new windshield or stainless molding.
  25. Replacing clutch linkage bushings, if worn.
  26. Replace the dash speaker.
  27. Splicing of wiring with quick connectors or couplings, before assemble install electrical heat shrink tubing over joints and wire and heat tubing. Forms a nice clean connection.
  28. Check under the dash at both the passenger and drivers at the metal joints where the dash meets the inner fender/gutter cowl. Caulk as required. These areas over a period of time lose their caulk bonding and can cause water leaks.
  29. Blow out the windshield cowl louvered area well before painting. It may hold dirt, dust, sand, etc. and you don't want it to blow out of there when spray gun pressure may airborne it.
  30. After painting, sand off a small area behind where all the grounding wires will bond to. There are a half a dozen or so grounding points in the engine bay area.
  31. Before installing that new master cylinder, bench bleed it.
  32. Before installing the wide drip rail stainless that fits in the upper door jamb starting at the jam at vent window area, up and over, down to the quarter window, install a seal foam strip. The foam strip should be about 3/4" wide and a 1/8" thick. I found a roll of foam at Home Depot with one side with a sticky surface. This is like the factory used in between the drip rail and the stainless to aid in water entry, and vibration of the stainless.
  33. Before removing the headliner, mark or number the "bows" rods to their holes. This will help on the reinstall of them and ensure a proper fit.
  34. The wiper motor to fire wall seal is not an available item these days. You can make your own out of a dense/close cellular 5/8"x5/8" black rubber/foam strip. Just make it into a 4 1/2" OD circle ring, gluing the two ends together with pro bond glue.
  35. On 6 to V8 conversions, drill a hole below the area of the battery tray just in front of the strut tower, insert a grommet, and add a braided fuel line hose to the old 6 cylinder hard pipe fuel line, and install it thru the hole and attach the braided line to the fuel pump. This makes a neat and out of the way fuel line placement.
  36. Check all brake line hoses for cracks. Especially check "inside" the hose for the rubber swells over a period of time restricting the passage and or old fluid settles within and semi clogs the passage. I found the main rear line hose that connects to the T block at the rear housing clogged. Hoses where available at ...yes you guessed it...NAPA.
  37. Take pictures before you remove an item...It is one of the best references you can have when reinstalling it ...saves a lot of guess work and time...$$$
Happy Motoring!

Another New Year - Volume 3, Issue 1 - January, 2003

It's hard to believe 2002 is gone already but here we are in 2003. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and got lots of car stuff for gifts. Novas are still growing in popularity and last year a major car magazine (Hot Rod) finally recognized the potential of 1975-79 Novas (not once but twice!) All you 1975-up owners, keep up the great work. 2003 looks to be a great year as well.

2002 was another growing year for The Nova Exterior Dimensions page was added in January, as were thumbnails of the exterior paint colors on all Cowl tags pages. In May, the Super Sport and Spirit of America Nova pages were updated and 10 new pages were added: Nova Custom/Concours, RPO-AB8 Cabriolet Formal Roof, RPO-BW6 Custom Appearance Group, RPO-YF1/Z26 Rally Package, RPO-ZJ1 Custom Interior Package, RPO-ZJ2 Custom Exterior Package, RPO-ZJ3 Interior Convenience Package, RPO-ZJ5 Exterior Decor Package, RPO-Z11 LN Package and the RPO-Z54 Interior Decor/Quiet Group options. Lastly in October, site statistics showed that the majority of visitors had screen settings of 1024x768 resolution or larger so all the pages were widened to display on at 1024x768 resolution. This will be the 6th year that this site has been up providing Nova information and even more changes are in the works.

I said this last January and I'll say it again, thanks everyone for making what it is today. New Year's Resolutions don't work but prayer does. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Happy New Year and as always.....

Happy Motoring!

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Main Page Copyright 2003 Scott Windle Created on: 02/01/03 Updated on: 01/13/04