Wow, you could’ve had a v-8! Well, not if you bought a ’62-63 Nova new. That’s because it wasn’t until the ’64 model that the General decided that his little Deuce should have some more power to go along with its performance potential. So this time I am writing on installing a V-8.
The V-8 conversion on the early box Novas (’62-67) is by far the most popular upgrade going. GM engineers went out of their way to make this difficult and displeasing to the mechanic, be it backyard or professional. If you have already done a conversion before, you know where I am coming from. If you haven’t done the swap, I will touch on most of the major points/topics.
The V-8 Nova was first introduced into production during 1964. Previous to that, GM had started selling the V-8 conversion parts over the counter. The upgrade proved to be so popular, GM added it to their RPO (regular production option) list.
Before you can even begin the V-8 swap, you must replace the stock six-cylinder frame mounts, which are easily unbolted from the Nova sub-frame, with V-8 frame mounts. These items are available from the aftermarket. Additionally, I recommend the rubber motor mounts (those that mount between the frame mounts and the engine block). These need to be the heavy-duty T-lock style to help keep the motor from breaking a mount; you do not want your throttle to stick!
When it comes to the V-8, there are certain things that must be considered. Due to the steering link location a stock V-8 pan won’t fit. A special Nova oil pan is required with the deepest part of the oil pan located in the front. This is unlike any other Chevy V-8 combination. But adding a front sump pan is not that simple. In addition to the pan is the oil pump and its long pickup tube. The tube has to reach from the rear of the engine to the front to pick up the oil from the front sump. It is mated with the stock V-8 oil pump, which, like everything else mentioned, is a unique item. From the factory, the stock pickup tube brace was mounted on the main bearing block webbing next to a main bearing cap via a tapped hole and bolt. When you are installing a non-original Nova engine, this brace can be altered to be attached to a stud on the main bearing cap bolt (this bolt is now available). The oil pump is different from any other GM pump because the hole for the pickup tube faces toward the front of the engine. (This pump is not available in high volume.)
Above the pump we have the oil pump drive rod, which is a little shorter than the stock GM rod. Moving to the dipstick and tube, this is now located on the driver-side, in the oil pan. We now have a dipstick delete drive-in plug for the V-8 block where the stock non-Nova dipstick and tube were located; this is similar to a freeze plug.
As mentioned, all of the above relates to clearing the steering drag link that crosses from side to side under the engine behind the K-member. In the past, we have seen it all, even taking a rear sump pan engine and using a sledgehammer to alter for fit, definitely not pretty and sometimes fatal to the bearings after losing the oil! The other option we have seen is cutting and dropping the steering drag link and re-welding it 2 inches lower to the ground__ not a safe bet by any means! There are aftermarket deep-sump pans out there that have a notch welded in (and sometimes even a hole through the pan, which requires the drag link to be threaded through). But unless you’re able to avoid any and all bumps in the road, these should be limited to the race track; clearance problems between the pan and the asphalt can be disastrous. The best bet is to do like the factory did: install the front-sump pan.
There are other things to consider before attempting a V-8 upgrade and the required oil pan conversion. Consideration must be given to such things as a one- or two-piece rear main seal block, a right-side dipstick (some 305 engines are different), V-8 coil springs, cooling your new V-8 throttle linkage, manual trans linkage, alternator mounting, perhaps a stronger rear-end, etc.
One thing for sure: Be pro-active in a way to understand all you should know before attempting to add a V-8 to your Nova. We have a Nova V-8 conversion tip sheet available for the asking, so give us a ring. See ya next month.