For the next step in the restoration of my 1969 Chevy Nova, my dad and I did some sheet metal pulling. Let me rephrase that. My dad tackled the sheet metal pulling while I stood by entranced by his skills. He is the sheet metal whisperer and makes it look so easy.
For laymen like me, sheet metal makes up the various parts of a car’s body (like the roof, doors, hood, etc.). In the Nova’s case, the sheet metal is made of thin pieces of steel cut, bent and folded into shape. Did you know that the Chrysler Building in New York City is covered in sheet metal? I think that makes my Nova and the Chrysler Building something like second cousins!
I am dying to cut the roof off (it involves flames!), but first we needed to take the time to get the car roughly back into shape by doing some sheet metal pulling. Having been flipped upside down, the Nova’s sheet metal is no longer in alignment and the doors don’t shut properly. So, sheet metal pulling literally involves pulling and shoving and adjusting the pieces of sheet metal until they look just so. The adjustments are relatively small (we’re talking fractions of inches), but will help ensure that the car looks tip top when it’s done.
While I wanted to start hacking off the Chevy Nova’s crumpled old roof off right away, my dad patiently informed me that first we needed to spend some time drilling holes in concrete. This step is necessary so we can install anchors into the ground that will allow us to pull the car back into shape.
Planning the Placement
We began by planning where the holes were going to go. And by “we” I mean that I sat around watching my dad pensively pondering the placement of the holes.
Drilling Holes in Concrete
We rented this gigantic drill, called a core drill, that cuts the most perfect, beautiful holes in the exact size you need. For our purposes, we used a 3 ½ inch bit to make our holes.
Drilling holes in concrete is way more fun than drilling regular holes because we literally cut giant, cylindrical chunks from the floor! It works very quickly once everything is set up properly. The drill sits securely on the ground because of its vacuum base, which creates a super strong suction. We didn’t have to worry about it budging even a little bit while drilling. The garden hose attaches to the drill to keep the bit lubricated and cool. When powered on, it spins like a normal drill. My dad carefully controlled the drill as it bored through the concrete ground. Once it broke through the bottom of the floor, he raised the drill and we were left with perfection:
We drilled a total of four holes. Next, we will install the anchors into the holes and the body work can begin!
I have to figure out something cool to do with the perfect concrete cylinders that were created in this project! Any ideas?
I’m super excited to report that over the last few days, my dad and I removed the Chevy Nova interior so we can get serious with our restoration project! I cannot wait to chop off the roof, but taking our time here will prevent damage to the interior from the impending pulling, cutting and welding that will occur.
It’s not a particularly difficult job (that will come when we cut the roof off and replace it!), but the worst part was the dead mouse we found inside of it! Don’t worry, I won’t subject you to any photos of that!
Held together with an assortment of hooks, clips and screws, the interior requires only a few tools to be disassembled, but lots of patience to carefully collect and label the hundreds of parts so none go missing.
This project was a great excuse to use my label maker! I labeled the bags of bits to keep them organized and easy to find when we put this whole project back together.
One last look before the interior is all gone. Everything has to go– the seats, door panels, seat belts, carpet, arm rests, door handles, moldings, and more.
No more seats! There was so MUCH vacuuming in this project. That dead mouse (and maybe some of his mouse friends) made himself at home and left evidence of his stay everywhere.
There goes the windshield!
My dad pondering what needs to be removed from the dash. If you look at the bottom of this picture, you can see that the carpet is gone!
Elements like the door handles are held on by little clips that can be magically removed by this little contraption. You shove this little guy between the door handle and its washer, shimmy it around, and PRESTO the clip comes off. Next were the door panels behind the handles.
Just a few screws and the door panels were gone!
I used this little hook tool to carefully remove the headliner fabric, which was glued to the moldings. More evidence of our mouse guest: mouse poop cascaded down with every inch of headliner removed. Gross!
All of the mouldings underneath the headliner also had to be removed.
Even some of the exterior moldings needed to be removed in anticipation of pulling the car back into shape and removing the roof.
And a view through the back window. Poor Chevy Nova is naked.
This year in New York with my dad is to make up for many lost years, and create some memorable experiences. As I’ve blogged about before, one planned experience is restoring this 1969 Chevy Nova to its former glory. It needs a makeover not only on the outside, but also the inside, as my dad bought it without a motor or transmission! While winter stubbornly refuses to leave the north east, preventing any progress with the body, we took a trip last week to check out a Corvette motor.
Corvette Motor — Tuned Port What?
The Corvette motor is part of a sad tale that involves a guy crashing his beloved 1990 convertible, now a heap of steal and fiberglass sitting in a garage. My dad suggested we look at the wreckage to see if we could buy the whole thing at a good price. Then we could use the motor and transmission and sell the bits and pieces to offset the final cost of the motor.
My dad explained that this particular Corvette motor is a tuned port motor and was state of the art in its day. That’s about all I understand about the thing. You might think that I’ve been here in New York for six months, so some of my dad’s knowledge should have rubbed off by now. You would be mistaken. Just now, I tried to do some google research about the motor, as I am apt to do. There were pages and pages of information about tuned port motors, but none of the words made sense. It was blah blah blah aggressive camshaft profile blah blah blah. In fact, I thought it was a tune port motor (which sounds more like a ride at Disneyland) until google helpfully corrected the search results.
Unfortunately, it was a big strike out! In his mind’s eye, the seller views this car as the gem it once was rather than a decrepit ruin. This clouded his asking price to $4,500, about $1,000 more than it is worth. I couldn’t get good photos of the rest of the car because of the lighting, but items such as the interior and soft top are in a deteriorated condition that would not allow us to sell them. While we left empty handed without the Corvette motor, it was a fun day with my dad.
And, the search continues . . .
This total disaster is a 1969 Chevy Nova and my future car. Those who know me would most likely wonder how this is possible, seeing as I barely understand how to check the oil level in a car let alone know where to begin in repairing this Chevy Nova. Lucky for me, I have an expert who wants to teach me everything he knows about cars. This expert is my dad.
My dad is a car guy. He has bought, sold, repaired, painted and wired just about every car you could imagine. Some people rescue abandoned animals, my dad rescues broken down cars and nurses them back to health. This sad little Chevy Nova has been sitting in my dad’s garage for several years waiting to be put back together, and I can’t wait to chronicle our progress here at 3 Eva Court!
More than just a car guy, my dad is an artist. He built his own hot rod, a 1941 Willys, seen here in his garage. This photo does not do it justice. It’s the most glorious shade of purple you have ever seen.
While this move across country often feels petrifying, I can’t imagine a more meaningful experience than working side by side with my dad in his shop. Obviously, this Chevy Nova has seen better days, so it’s going to require many hours before it is in drivable condition. If it turns out half as cool as the Willys, I’ll be one lucky girl.
Can’t wait to share our progress. Now, I just need to learn how to drive stick!