Ray's Chevy Restoration Site

Photos and History of my 1974 Nova

Page 1 of 2 ... Fall 1992 - Summer 1995


Fall 1992 - This photo was taken just after I bought the car. It doesn't look very bad in the photo, but it was in need of a total restoration. About the only bad spots that show up in this photo are the rough looking bondo job around the rear wheel openings and the dull red paint job. There's also the non-original bucket seats that practically touch the roof.

Body/Sub Frame:

The sub frame and other structural elements of the body were solid and only had minor surface rust. However, the rest of the body work and paint were very rough. The original color of the car was Cream Beige (GM #50). A former owner had done some crude body work around the rear wheel openings and on the lower front fenders. Rust holes had been covered with pop-riveted aluminum flashing and bondo. On top of that was a cheap (and very rough) red paint job that soon began to fade to a nasty pink color.


The interior was also in very poor condition. The front bench seat had been replaced by a set of high back bucket seats out of some other type of vehicle. They were propped up on a stack of 2x4's and held to the floor with long pieces of threaded rod. Old pieces of shag carpet were covering the floor and rear window package tray area. Most of the material had been ripped off of the headliner, leaving the backing board exposed. The dash pad was cracked, the lower dash had been spray painted, and the radio hole had been hacked up. The door panels had some minor rips and gouges along with some speaker holes cut in them. The rest of the interior panels were sun faded, but usable until I could find some better ones.


The car still had its original inline 6 (250 cu. in.) engine and column shifted three speed transmission. The engine had a cracked block because the former owner did not use antifreeze one winter. The radiator and heater core were also damaged.

Parts Car:

In addition to this Nova, I also had another '74 Nova that would serve as a parts car for the restoration. The parts car was a rusty 4-door with a low mileage (25,000 mi) 350 cu. in. V8 engine and TH350 automatic transmission.

Start of Restoration:

Winter 1992/93 - My father and I started the restoration with the following:

Spring 1993 - We began preparing to swap in the 350/TH350 from the parts car. Since the engine/transmission had very low mileage they did not require rebuilding. The preparation involved:

Here's the freshly painted 350. This being my first engine paint job, I wasn't all that careful masking off (or removing) items such as the temperature sending unit and valve cover grommets. I have since gone back and re-detailed the engine to fix some of the mistakes I made back then.

The swap from the L6 to the V8 also required several other items from the V8 parts car. Here are the details of the swap.

Although the 4-door parts car was rusty, it still had some parts that were better than the ones on my car. Some of the items used from the parts car included:

This photo shows the interior after a quick "fix-up" using the above items from the parts car. The bench seat was from the 4-door parts car so it did not fold ahead for access to the rear seat. It was still better than those bucket seats mounted on 2x4's.

Body Work:

Here is the driver side fender that was taken from the green 4-door parts car. After sanding the bottom edge, I found a small amount of rust (much less than the original fender). This photo also shows the rust that was cut out of the lower corner of the door.

Summer 1994 - I started on the body work by cutting out the old quarter panels that were full of aluminum flashing patch panels and loads of bondo. While the quarter panels were off, I installed new outer wheel housings.

May 1995 - Back at this time, I didn't have the equipment or experience to tackle major bodywork such as installing the new quarter panel skins and painting the car so I took the car to a local body shop. At the shop, the new quarter panel skins were welded in place and smoothed out with a skim coating of body filler. The body shop also sanded off the remaining old red paint and welded pieces of new sheetmetal into the lower door corners and bottoms of the front fenders.

Here it is at the body shop with some fresh primer and a dusting of black paint to be used as a "guide coat" for block sanding.

June 1995 - Back from the body shop with a new paint job. The paint is Dupont ChromaBase/Clear in GM# 26 Bright Blue Metallic.


July 1995 - Prior to taking the car to the body shop, I had removed all of the trim, emblems, bumpers, and interior. I re-installed all of those parts along with new weatherstripping. I also added a set of Rally II wheels that I bough at a junk yard. By July 1995, the restoration was basically complete.

Continue on to Page 2 (Summer 1996 - present ... Changes and Improvements)

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