Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How Low Can We Go?

Back when we replaced the air shocks and installed the 2" drop Hotchkis leaf springs on the rear I felt the front end need come down the same amount.  After I replaced the front brakes I started collecting front end components when good deals would come up on ebay. My goal was to lower the front end a couple more inches and hopefully make the car handle better in the process.

I went with a set of the Tubular A-Arms that have a coil spring drop pocket and a pair of 2" drop spindles. I felt this combined with a set of stock height springs would give me just the right ride height in the front.

ebay Tubular A-Arms
ebay Tall 2" Drop Spindles

Rock Auto Rockwell Constant Rate RC5370 Coil Springs

Rock Auto KYB Gas Adjust #KG4515  Front Shocks

The only problem was taking the front end this low put the front rims right on the fender wells so hitting any bump caused the front tires to rub on (actually bang into) the inner fender well. Ever since we lowered the rear there was a little rubbing on the passenger rear under load but the PO had rolled the inner lip so the rubbing was minimal. But when we got this low in the the front the rubbing was way too much.

 The Nova with 2" drop in the back and 4" drop in the front.

The old wheels were a fairly standard 4.5" backspace the solution was some 5.25 backspace wheels. So I changed to this wheel in silver.

Vision Legend 5 - 17x8, 5x4.75 bolt pattern,
5.25" backspace (+19mm offset), Silver Rims

The 5.25 was perfect on the back the rubbing out back was gone and the 17" rim clears the rear shocks in the stock location. In the front a 5" backspace would be perfect so I ordered a set of custom spacers from These were $90 but worth every penny to get it right. 10mm Spacers

These spacers have the added advantage of being hub-centric so the wheel is not riding on the log nuts but instead it rides on the wheel hub. The 10mm spacers move the wheels out 1/4" and still leave 8 full threads on the lug nuts.

The front tires are still P225/45R-17 and the backs are P245/45R-17. With the front this low, the front tires are maxed out. But when we replace the rear tires we might go a little wider/taller as there is plenty of room for more tire in the back now.
Someday I'd like to add a Posi Rear, 1" lowering blocks, Disc Brakes and a set of 17x9 rims back there!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Put Some Junk in the Trunk

One of the simple upgrades to an old car is to detail the trunk. So the first point of business when the Nova got back from the paint shop was to splatter paint the trunk.

Now we just need one of those vinyl trunk mats!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Custom SS Treatment

Since we already had the SS grill on the car, I decided to include a few SS exterior trim features on our Nova Custom as an homage to the 1973 Nova SS.

The SS grill is blacked out with an upper and lower bar. Available as an option on all Novas, Dual Body-color Sport "Bullet" Mirrors were part of the SS trim package.

The Black Painted Rear End Panel (that matches the grill) was an SS-only treatment.
The  taillights with bright trim was standard on the SS and the Custom.

We removed the rocker moldings and painted the bright trim
around the door frames the body color.

What makes a "real" 73 Nova SS
In 1973 the Nova SS RPO Z26 was basically just an Exterior Trim package with a Heavy Duty suspension. It could be had with any motor combination including the 6 cylinder 250ci motor. This means that any 73 Nova could theoretically be equipped as an SS. If you are trying the verify a 1973 Nova factory SS you need the original build sheet that the factory would have left under the rear seat.

The list below shows what options both the 1973 Nova Custom and SS included. I have notes after each item that relates to the specific option's inclusion or exclusion on our Nova Custom.

The 1973 Nova SS package included:
Exterior Trim
  • Black grille with argent accent on 2nd and 5th horizontal bars (added)
  • "SS" ornamentation (badges) on grille, fender and deck lid (grill ornamentation added)
  • Specific body side striping (not added)
  • Black painted rear end panel with bright trim on tail lamps (added, bright trim existing from Custom)
  • Dual body-color sport mirrors (added)
  • Bright roof drip moldings (existing from Custom trim)
Interior Trim
  • "SS" emblem on steering wheel shroud (not added)
  • Carpet floor covering (existing from Custom)
  • Rally wheels 14x6 or 14x7 with specific center hub and no trim ring (not added)
  • F40 Heavy duty suspension (F41 Sport suspension optional) (not added)
The Black End Panel, the Sport mirrors, no rocker and wheel moldings, body color side window trim are all a tip of the hat to the 1973 SS trim package. Badges? We don't need no stinkin badges!

The Nova "Custom" was newly introduced in 1973 and it was an upgraded trim package. Here's what the 1973 Nova Custom package included:

Exterior Trim
  • Bright trim on grille around parking lamps - Yes
  • Front and rear bumper impact strips (previously removed)
  • Bright roof drip moldings - Yes
  • Fender and rocker lower moldings (fender moldings previously removed, rocker moldings removed)
  • Front fender "Nova Custom" nameplate (previously removed)
  • Bright trim around tail lamps - Yes
Interior Trim
  • Right front door jam switch for dome lamp operation - Yes
  • Glove box lamp - Yes
  • 10" wide prismatic inside rear view mirror - Yes
  • Cigarette lighter - Yes
  • Bright framing on instrument cluster carrier - Yes
  • Passenger compartment carpet floor covering - Yes
  • Rubber and foam backed vinyl trunk mat (previously removed)
  • Special floor and 4-piece hood insulation (hood insulation previously removed)
  • Deluxe door sidewall with bright moldings and simulated wood insert (wood grain removed)
  • "Nova" door trim emblem (removed)
  • Rear seat arm rests with ash tray - Yes
Here are the RPO's I've identified that were included on our 1973 Nova Custom:
  • AK1 - Deluxe belts & harness front - Yes
  • C60 - Air Conditioning - (previously removed)
  • D33 - Outside mirror - remote control (removed)
  • JL2 - Disc brakes front - Yes
  • N40 - Power steering - Yes
  • U69 - Radio - AM/FM push button (removed)
  • U76 - Windshield antenna - Yes
  • VE5 - Deluxe bumpers (removed)
  • V01 - Heavy duty radiator - Yes
  • ZJ5 - Exterior decor package
    • Body side Molding (previously removed)
    • Bright side window and door frame moldings (removed)
  • Z54 - Interior decor/quiet group
    • Right front door jam switch for dome lamp operation - Yes
    • Glove box lamp - Yes
    • 10" wide prismatic inside rear view mirror - Yes
    • Cigarette lighter - Yes
    • Special floor and 4-piece hood insulation (hood insulation previously removed)
    • New improved acoustic package - Yes