View Full Version : Need Advice/Help: '69 Nova Daily Driver Project

12-21-2005, 11:13 AM
Here's my n00blet post: https://www.pro-touring.com/forum/showthread.php?p=115968#post115968 (https://www.pro-touring.com/forum/showthread.php?p=115968#post115968)

As you can see I have a pretty potent '02 Z06 'vette so the '69 Nova isn't going to be my "fast car" per say. I currently Daily Drive a '89 MazDUH B2200 and while it's highly economical and fairly reliable, it's just not cutting it anymore. I want to build a fun DD that is rewarding to drive, turns some heads and is an all around cruiser. But if Im going to have a nice DD Im going to expect it to also handle, stop and accelerate well (at least as good as my 99 Z/28 did in close to stock form). I have a line on a low-mileage, all original, straight-6 '69 Nova that I think will be the basis for my project.

The basic plan is a LS1/4L60E swap (though I may go T56 if the right donor car/drivetrain comes along first), completely rebuild of the suspension, brakes etc, 17/18s, refurb. stock style interior, decent stereo etc. No crazy custom work is planned.

The nice thing about starting w/ the '69 Nova is that it'll accept 1st Gen. Fbody parts. As such, Year One makes the motor mounts etc. for the LS1 swap. The downside is 1st Gen. Fbody susp. isn't exactly ideal.

Again, I'm not looking for anything extreme here. But I do want crisp handling and slop-free steering. And I'm on a somewhat tight budget (I'd like to be sub $10k total). I have a fully stocked shop at my disposal and a paint booth. Very little body work is needed, and I'll farm that out, but laying down the paint itself will be on me.

The car will get stripped down to just a shell, blasted, undercoated and primered as a first step (and rust/body work will be addressed at this time). While it's off the front subframe will be blasted and any mods to it performed before painting (maybe Por15).

Budget-wise I'd really like to stick to the stock front subframe and control arms (rebuilt w/ poly bushings and fresh ball joints, and boxed/trussed up a bit). I was thinking of something along the lines of Hotchkis's full kit for springs, shocks, and sway bars. In the rear the stock axle will get cleaned up and rebuilt (probably 3.73s and of course some sort of posi). For brakes I am willing to spend a bit on a nice front big-brake kit, but would love to find a budget friendly rear disc-brake swap. For the interior I actually want to stay really stock, bench seat 'n all (gotta have the GF under my arm when cruisin' it). The seats will get recovered, headliner and carpet replaced, hard parts painted, and the plastics etc. sprayed w/ vinyl die. I'm sure I'll need to invest in some trim pieces... but mostly it's all there. The LS1 swap should be pretty straight forward since the motor mounts are available. I have a friend I can call on for the wiring (he just finished and fully CA legalized his LS1 swapped FD RX7) and details of that nature. I was thinking 17/18" rim setup but don't know what widths and offsets I can run. Also, for my application (cruiser/DD) would a truck arm kit be worth it in the rear? I'd really like to put Global West front control arms on it and a power rack 'n pinion kit but that would probably blow me out of my budget.

I guess I'm just looking for suggestions, tips, pics, etc. for now. Thanks for any input!


Ralph LoGrasso
12-21-2005, 11:19 AM
TJ, I can't offer much tech, but I'd definitely look into doing the guldstrand modification, as it will really improve the geometry, and costs next to nothing to do. Also, instead of the power rack, go with a new steering box from DSE, AGR, Lee, etc or just have your stock one rebuilt with a quicker ratio to save some $$. For cheap rear brakes, I'd look into an LS1 or LT1 rear brake swap. There are lots of threads covering that topic in the forums, as well as the truck arm rear susp.

12-21-2005, 09:27 PM
If your going to do the whole thing all at once you might need more than $10k.

But check out this one http://popularhotrodding.com/features/0508phr_nova/

12-21-2005, 11:38 PM
yeah i read that story and raised hell about it but what ever. Sure if you get lucky too, you might be able to do one that is remotely close to that one. Take a close look at the list he has for parts bought and parts sold. Its just bad for those who might try and not succeed. Gives false hope.

However with a Nova its might be abit easier to do it. You can get the cars for real cheap still. Save a couple bucks on rebuilding drivetrain with a low mile pull out engine and trans.

12-22-2005, 10:22 AM
Thats why I think $10k might not be enough. But I'm sure it could be done for $15k.

12-22-2005, 03:19 PM
Well that car is waaaay beyond what I'd be looking to do!

But here's the #s I'm looking at...

-1.5k Car (Deal already set if I choose to take it)
-3k LS1/4L60E/Harness/PCM (would need to find but 3k is pretty "standard")
-.5k Fuel System
-3k Susp/Brakes
-1k Interior
- 2k Misc.

For now the paint/body work would probably just be what I can do at the shop in our paint booth. Nothing show quality, but still "nice." The "Misc" part might include farming out a bit of the body work though.

Remember this car will not be very extreme so "Susp/Brakes" would mean the Gulstrand mod (free), and all new bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends etc and something along the lines of the Hotchkis kit for springs/shocks/sways. For brakes I'd possibly get a decent brake kit in the front and if I can do it really cheap a disc swap out back but most likely just run the larger AL drums from GM wagons of the era.

The interior on the car is already complete and there, but would need new seat covers, carpet a headliner and probably a few trim pieces here/there.

Misc. would probably include some $ into rebuilding the stock rearend and shortening the driveshaft etc. Actually along w/ a bit 'o body work that'd pretty much eat up "Misc."

So yeah... in all reality $10k would turn into $15k. But if I tell myself it'll only cost $10k off the bat I'll feel better. ;)


12-22-2005, 06:07 PM
I guess your money sounds about right. Maby it could run over some but not much I would think.

12-22-2005, 09:19 PM
don't forget the extra $2100 to mini tub and narrow the rear

...edit for an after thought, you know TJ, you can save alot of money by bartering some of your body shop work for drivetrain work. I'd be willing to do rear diff work and maybe find you a good deal on a rear disc brake setup. Let me know if your interested. Im in San Carlos. I also mini tub oh and also a dealer installer for Lateral Dynamics and other related vendors.

12-24-2005, 09:29 PM
I can handle the mini-tubbin' if I go that route. Just for reference here's a car I'm helping a good friend build:

A little more recent pic showin' some of the cage work:
Here's me doin' some cuttin' for the mini-tubs (who wants to buy me a plasma cutter):

But anyway... my body work I wouldn't barter out. The work I intend to do on this Nova will take much longer than a typical body guy, cuz I just don't have the experience, some of it will be a learning process. I'll be able to make it good, but not show quality. I really wouldn't want to do body work for anybody else.

As for narrowing the rear and stuff what can I get away w/ for wheels/tires leaving the rear stock and maybe (or maybe not) mini-tubbing? Really, this car doesn't need miles of meat etc. The Z06 is my "fast" car that handles. This is just going to be a nice cruiser...


don't forget the extra $2100 to mini tub and narrow the rear

...edit for an after thought, you know TJ, you can save alot of money by bartering some of your body shop work for drivetrain work. I'd be willing to do rear diff work and maybe find you a good deal on a rear disc brake setup. Let me know if your interested. Im in San Carlos. I also mini tub oh and also a dealer installer for Lateral Dynamics and other related vendors.

12-25-2005, 12:47 PM
well why didn't you say so. Looks like a sweet project, are you in Pacifica? Shop looks real familliar. When will the 2nd gen be done?

12-25-2005, 10:52 PM
MR Quick.. The shop is way south of Pacifica. I hope to have my 73 running by spring.

I notice you have a blue 70-73 Camaro on your web page. Looks like your doing a 3-link in the rear. Any reason your tieing the UCA to the rear behind the center line of the axle? Also where are you going to tie it in for the front mount?

I have a 315 on the back of my car with a tone of room. Do you really need to cut the rails on the one in your page for a 335?

TJ (you may not read this tonight), but I think your going to be around the shop tomorrow. Let's talk about some cheap mods while we sip on some brews. We might be able to move the leafs in some to get you some more clearence if you wanted to mini tub it. I say we put the Nova on the lift tomorrow and really start looking at things. We could messure the rear width and see about using the extra vette rims you have. my rear is only 1" wider than a stock 73 rear.

I doubt you want to blast the car yourself. I was quoted $800 for blast and prime for the 73 at a place in Hollister. Not a bad price at all. Most the rest of the body work we can do there. The only 2 bad spots I know of on the car are just behind the front tires and they arent big.

Remeber, it's gonna be a big job.. Not as big as the 73 but it's going to be a lot of work.

12-25-2005, 11:20 PM
Hey I had no idea you where in California?!? The car looked familliar.
The shop looks like a resto shop in Pacifica, haven't been there in a year but it looked like yours. Car looks great BTW.

My upper link is 18 1/2" long and is set back to help keeping a decent amount of back seat area looking stock. There will be a 12" steel hoop and crossmember to provide a mount for the upper link. It will also tie into a cage. If you look at the Chevy II page there is a picture of a similar cross member being used.
The mini tub will require a slight notch in the frame to clear the tire by 1 1/2". I like to have more than enough room to provide articulation of the rear suspension and also to have the room if I choose to go with a larger tire in the future. With no notch, there is only 3/8" of clearance at its lowest point. I do drive these cars hard and plan to track this one often.
I've been busy with other projects so I haven't been able to update much as these are my personal cars and business comes first. I'd like to get back to this one soon as its been atleast 2 1/2 years since I worked on it. good luck with yours and hope to hear how it handles...we have to get together for a track day. Keep your ears out for an update on that.

12-27-2005, 10:31 AM
I got to get my car going before I can get it to a track day :) I could roll out with TJ though. I'm sure he would love to have the Z06 out.

I was under the impression having the UCA located behind the axle center caused some sort of issue. I have a 12-point cage in the car now so I am not worried about the back seat. LCA's are 28" long and the upper is going in at 21" at axle center tying in to the main hoop and cross member.

Sorry TJ, hijacking your post :)

12-29-2005, 11:21 AM
Yeah... if Shawn's car isn't ready he and I can bring out the Z06. :)

Anyway, I'm still going back 'n forth on the '69. It'd be a great project and I know I can get it done in about 6 months in terms of time and $. But *should* I do it? Probably not. But life isn't about should is it?


12-29-2005, 06:54 PM
:evil: Do it

12-31-2005, 10:27 AM
Build the Nova.

You should be able to fit 275's out back without a minitub.

I've got Hotchkis springs and sway bar on the front of mine and really like it. I need some $ for 17's and then I can really enjoy it.

It should perform like your prevous Z as they are about the same weight and it will have the LS1 too.