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1963 Chevrolet Nova Wagon V8 Swap - Should’ve Had A V-8

Swapping out the Straight-6 for a V-8 into a ’63 Nova Wagon

By , Photography by The Author

If you didn’t know, we here at Super Chevy produce a few extra magazines every year we call specials. With titles like Chevelle, Chevy Classics, and the Nova Annual, you can tell what these are all about. In this year’s Nova special (on sale March 29), I, with the help of Jason Scudellari, took on the task of doing a budget-minded small-block and overdrive trans swap into a ’63 Nova wagon. Well, as things go sometimes, we didn’t get the job done. I ran into a big road block in the way of lack of information. I tried finding a complete parts list of everything you need to do the swap, but could not.

Case in point: the water pump. I went with a short-style just to be safe on the fan clearance, but when I tried to fit the alternator it hit the valve cover and the strut tower. Yes, I had some things going against me, like taller valve covers and a possibly larger alternator, so I returned the short stuff and went with a long pump setup, which let me put the alt on the other side of the block in front of the valve cover. I prefer the long water-pump setup anyway because of the shorter belts and cleaner looks. But that now changed my wiring needs, and that is how things kind of went. Every change affected something else.

We went with a minimal budget/mail order mindset on this project, so you won’t find billet pulleys, fuel injection or the likejust a simple carb and some shiny stuff so it still looks custom. I could have dropped the dollar figure considerably by going to the junkyard and getting a bunch of used stuff. The only issue I have with that is I can’t guarantee your local yard will have what mine does, so it all needed to be new and available across the country.

Not wanting to leave things incomplete, this story is going to show the rest of the job with a complete parts list with part numbers, prices, and where to get it all. I’ll start off with a brief recap of what went down in the Nova Annual and then finish it off. Also, there’s a separate story on page 96 about building this Nova’s exhaust system so be sure to check it out.

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