After picking our 1963 Nova up from the painter, we took one look at the rusty and weathered core support and knew we'd eventually need to address its appearance in one form or another. With those ugly snail shell horns hanging off its face and the textured surface that appeared to have a water line across it, the factory radiator core support we had was destined for hours of degreasing and sanding; that is, before we found a better alternative.
Stoker's Hot Rod Factory, in Upland, California, started offering aluminum core supports for 1962-65 Novas, as well as the 1966-67 Novas. These are designed to fit factory or aftermarket front clips, and built from high-quality aluminum with stainless hardware. The support comes assembled ready to bolt on, however, due to various hardware options, you'll need to clean up and reuse you factory bolts, or purchase your own bolts in order to attach it onto the car. "We found some customers wanted stainless, others like black oxide, while some wanted chrome, so we just leave that up to the builder," David Stoker says. In the same vein, Stoker offers the supports blank, meaning there are no added holes in the piece since everyone has different setups under the hood, like A/C hoses for example. As for weight savings, you shave about 6 pounds off from the nose of the car if you ditch the horns too, but for the price of $550, we'd say it's totally worth it if you're building a nice, clean Nova.
With the Hardtop Hellion back at the Source Interlink Tech Center, you can see how nasty the stock support looks in contrast to the rest of the car. Our plan to eliminate the stock piece worked out perfectly since removing the engine without the support in the way is much easier.
Removal of the factory core support begins with these easily accessible bolts; you don’t even need to remove the fenders on the ’62-63 models, however on the ’66-67 you do.
The factory core support weighed in at around 20 pounds with the horns attached (not pictured).
The aluminum piece weighs in around 14 pounds. The white plastic protects against scuffs and scratches.
Here’s a good comparison of how much nicer the Stoker piece is over the factory steel support.
For those with aftermarket front clips that require the bottom of the core support to be removed, you can simply remove these stainless screws and separate the lower piece before installation.
For any steel fasteners that get threaded into aluminum, antiseize must be used to prevent stuck bolts.
Once the stock core was removed, Stoker used light taps with a rubber mallet on this area before fitting on the new support, as seen below.
For the 1966-67 Nova owners, Stoker’s Hot Rod Factory also offers an aluminum radiator support that requires additional steps for a complete installation, like removal of the fenders for example.
This piece also complements aluminum radiators nicely. We plan on running a Flex-a-lite fan and radiator combo on our hardtop, and we’ll be sure to show it off once it’s bolted in place.