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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

I'm new here and have had my 1974 Nova Custom for about 7 years. Being in college money is tight and time is short so I haven't gotten a lot done to the car. I got it driving on a pieced together engine for about a month and realized the engine was complete trash. I got a 350 small block out of my grandpas 1990 Chevy Suburban with low miles on it and mounted it into the car. Being that it is fuel injected and reliable I figured it would be a good temporary engine while I restore the rest of the car.

My questions are has any of you built this type of car before? I'm think of a 1970's era Trans Am race car. Now I want a mostly stock interior so doing the full race car interior with roll cage and racing bucket isn't really what I want, but I want the rest of the car completely race ready. Keeping a bench seat in a race car just sounds bad *** to me.

I was hoping someone could help me out with suspension ideas, engine component ideas, and any other details that could help me out. I looked at doing a full Hotchkiss TVS system but they are pricey, and I'm sure there has to be a cheaper brand that is just as good.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Welcome to the Team Ethan!

Good news is your Nova is a first generation Camaro with a higher roof line, and a functional back seat. Anything that works on the Camaro (which was the original TransAm car) will work on your Nova. Our sister site Team Camaro has not one but two former TransAm racers and are currently racing in SCCA competition.

David Pozzi wrote a full section dedicated to converting your first generation Camaro's suspension into a competitive racer, the rest of the Team talks about building horsepower, but as with any sport there are rules governing what you can an can not do.

http://www.pozziracing.com/

By the way the first time you pull a one g turn and go sliding across to the opposite side of the car you will want bucket seats with a five belt restraint.

Big Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Dave!

I don't plan on doing any actual racing with the car other than maybe a trip to the track for fun. It would be more of a daily driver that sits and looks like a race car. I can see what your saying with the bench seat and would most likely have to change it once I rebuilt my engine.

I didn't know that the car was basically a Gen 1 Camaro, that's pretty sweet. Any thoughts on changing the rear suspension from leaf springs to a coil over set up? Also changing the front to Coil overs vs keeping the springs with tubular control arms.
 

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All it takes is money. There are kits from RideTech, Chris Aliston, Art Morrison, DSE (Detroit Speed and Engineering), and others that can meet your need to replace the stock suspension with full blown racing suspension.

I suggest you read a few books on your car's suspension system and how to modify it first so that you can make an informed decision on how you want to proceed.

Dr. Herb Adams is or was once an engineer working for GM in the Pontiac Motor Division that improved the Trans Am Firebird with the "wonder bar" (a bolt in additional cross member to stiffen the front sub frame) that the Camaro didn't get. As a result the Firebird often beat the Camaro on twisty courses where the 302 DZ motor couldn't give the Camaro an advantage. He wrote this book which I will admit is a little dry, but covers the basics and explains all of the forces at work.

"Chassis Engineering: Chassis Design, Building & Tuning for High Performance Handling" by Herb Adams

Fred Phun's book "How to Make Your Car Handle" is good in that it talks about the Camaro (and thus your car), but it is very dated. It doesn't include electronic traction control, electronic shocks or even modern metric tires. He works from the premises of finding the biggest tire and stiffening everything until the tire stays in contact with the road. Since he is basically a sedan racer in the five liter class he has either died back in 1975 or not bothered to update the information; as the book is constantly being reissued as a new edition. He does have good info on tuning the suspension based upon tire wear.

A much better book in terms of how to, not necessarily teaching you the design aspect, is Mark Savitske's "How to Make Your Muscle Car Handle". It basically covers the available bolt on packagers and evaluates them as to the pro's and Cons without going into the economic justification of buying one over the other so it can be hard to figure out which gives the best bang for the buck. You can think of this as the Readers Digest version of all of the car mags articles written since 1985 covering add on suspension parts.

Be sure you include the information that Pozzi wrote as it includes the part numbers and illustrates with pictures the different parts that GM put together to go racing. I recommend printing that info out as it is basically a free book, if you ignore the price of ink and paper to get it all printed.

Big Dave
 
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