1963 Chevy Nova - Project Car Update

Ten tasks to accomplish before summing the Hardtop Hellion

Jake Amatisto Oct 22, 2013 0 Comment(s)
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We’ve been thrashing on the 1963 Chevrolet Nova project like mad the past few weeks and the hard work and late nights are about to pay off as we close in on the ‘63s completion. Of course, we’re not quite there yet. With that in mind, we decided to help you get up to date with where we’re at with the Nova. Check out our quick list of to-do’s we’ve created, which includes ten important steps we need to make before getting this car on the road.

1: Driveshaft, angles, etc.

1963 Chevy Nova Driveshaft 2/11

We still have to install the driveshaft in the Nova, which is coming from Dynotech Engineering out of Troy, Michigan. We were originally concerned with how the output shaft was squarely aimed at a cross member we had installed to tie in the cage from side-to-side, but we ended up lifting the transmission up enough that we think the shaft will clear…we’ll keep you posted.

2: Neutral safety

1963 Chevy Nova Neutral Saftey 3/11

While the switch and wires are in place, we have yet to adjust the neutral safety switch in our TCI Automotive Outlaw shifter. We’ve forgotten to adjust this on previous cars and got scolded in line at the drags when the car lurched in gear. We also have to make sure to properly adjust the shifter linkage. This too is one of those steps that if you miss, can be very annoying, especially when you think you can shift into all three gears, but you’re missing one because you adjusted the linkage with either the transmission or shifter in the wrong gear.

3: Tire size

1963 Chevy Nova Tire Size 4/11

The wheel and tire combination we have on the car (Rocket Racing’s Fuel rims with Nitto Neo Gen tires) are not, and never were, intended to be raced with. These 205 tires (small, we know) will be what we’ll drive the car to shows with; we’ll have a set of slicks and skinnies when we unleash it at the dragstrip. We’re thinking of running a set of 26x8.5 Phoenix slicks and matching skinny fronts, with the white letters out.

4: Transmission

1963 Chevy Nova Transmission 5/11

It’s real hard to fill a transmission without a dipstick, since that’s where you pour the fluid. Lokar offers a very cool locking dipstick that we installed into the TCI TH400, but we still need to mount the top portion for under the hood access. The predicament comes from the fact that the fill tube crosses between the transmission and floor of the car, when/if we lift the engine/trans, the tube could limit how much we can go.

5: Intake plumbing

1963 Chevy Nova Intake Plumbing 6/11

We thought we’d be real cool and run crossover coolant lines on our AFR Titan intake manifold (running from the front coolant crossover, to the back of the intake). We’ll, it turned out that we needed a spot for our temperature gauge’s sending unit; with those lines in place, we decided to put the sending unit in our thermostat housing. The problem: you need a large, expensive 1/2-pipe tap to do so, not a common size in our mechanic’s arsenal. We were able to bolt it in, however we’ll have to see how well it will seal up.

6: A cooler master cylinder

1963 Chevy Nova Master Cylinder 7/11

The Hooker fenderwell headers we are running, places the primary tubes extremely close to the master cylinder and can potentially reduce the life of the brake fluid. We plan on making an aluminum heat shield that bolts onto the unit using the caps in place. For the street, we were told this is a must do item.

7: Firewalls

1963 Chevy Nova Firewall 8/11

One of the things we need to do is seal off the engine bay and trunk from the cockpit. For the package tray and narrow openings in our rear firewall and fabbed package tray, we plan on using this tough silicone sealer called The Right Stuff; for the large holes, we’ll patch them with aluminum.

8: Trunk area

1963 Chevy Nova Fuel Cell 9/11

Let’s just say we’re not too proud of the first spacers we made to support our fuel cell, but fortunately for us, we have a good buddy who is a talented machinist. We’ll feel much better having 20 gallons of fuel supported by solid hunks of billet instead of the hollow square tubing we originally used.

9: Stereo system?

1963 Chevy Nova Stereo 10/11

Our cohorts in the shop love to tease us about this one, but hear us out. We purchased a Gigaware audio setup for our computer last year and were really impressed with the volume and clarity of the sound via iPhone. So, instead of going with a conventional stereo, we plan on installing a USB compatible power inverter under the dash so we can charge our iPhone while playing music through the Gigaware speakers. It’s lightweight, simple, and cost under $100 bucks.

10: Engine height

1963 Chevy Nova Engine Height 11/11

The Nova’s not going anywhere as long as we have 1-inch of oil pan-to-ground clearance. With a combination of raising the ride height at all four corners by an inch, raising the transmission as much as possible, and stacking plates under the Energy Suspension mounts; we’re planning to address this before taking it out. We’re limited, however, by the fenderwell header collectors that are positioned pretty close to the floor as it is. Assuming it goes well, we should be able to fix this without altering the stance too badly.

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