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Thread: Another Scottish Nova project begins....

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland

    Another Scottish Nova project begins....

    At long last Iíve now got my Nova down from Skye. I found it thanks to the forum, and arranged a quite amicable purchase with BreakishNick back in mid-February. Transported down last week and itís now living in a Container somewhere near Glasgow while I sort out whatís done next.

    A LOT of questions follow!

    Photos show it on the car transported, then hiding in its container.

    In restoring it I plan on keeping it pretty original in appearance, but with updated mechanics, electrics and other bits & pieces.

    The exterior is in fair shape although there are numerous little dings and chips in the gel coat along the sides and front. Iím afraid Iíll need to repair those and respray the whole car. Iíll keep it redómaybe a BMW color: Indianapolis Red, a metallic pearl. It has pin-stripping along the sides and the front mid-lineówhile Iíd like to keep those as a period feature I think re-doing them after a respray would be a hassle I could skip.

    Iíll keep the rear panel and lights as they are, but the headlights and turn signals/running lights look clunky-big lumps just screwed in place. Maybe recess them into the mounting panel? I had thought about removing the little front side marker lights, but theyíre original so Iíve decided to keep them as a ďperiod featureĒ. I think Iíll add some driving/spot lights and fog lights at the front, maybe mount them and the turn signals in the front orifice? Maybe a rear fog light as per modern practice?

    Definite exterior changes:
    1. remove and glass over the aerial, and replace it with an invisible one beneath the fiberglass.
    2. Relocate the fuel cap to beneath the louvered panel for a neater look.
    3. The louvered panel seems to ďsagĒ in the middle- how can I fix that? Heat it up while forcing it flat?, and
    4. Iíd like to replace the louvered panelís hinges with some that mount below as with most boots and bonnets, also for a smoother look.
    5. The side windows are crazed and need replacing, and Iíd like to modify those so they open, preferably quite a bit-maybe with sliding panels like the old side curtains in late Ď50s MGs and TRs. Mounts that pivot like the rear windows of modern cars donít really appeal that much.
    6. The wheels look good as a natural aluminum but the center caps are corroded and horrible. Iíd replace those with new, if available or have them powder coated. I donít think Iíd coat the wheels themselves.

    The interior looks OK, but would need ďrefreshingĒ with
    1 new quality carpets
    2 new seats. Nick said he thought the ones in it were from an MGA, but original MG seats were different. Iíll go with thinner leather seats of a suitable width, high ones I think although those would be more modern than ďperiodĒ.
    3 Iíd keep the existing entertainment systems as period features-it has both a radio-cassette player and a CD player, one mounted alongside the driver and the other alongside the passenger. Itís got little tweeters up in the rear bulkhead and larger mid-range (?) speakers in the dash.
    4 The dash looks pretty good with a nice vinyl (almost certainly not leather) cover over each pod and the main panel. Iíd keep that, as is.
    5. The instruments are horribly anachronistic, just like those from Ď50 MGs, etc. and Iím surprised that such an avant-garde looking car didnít opt for more contemporary looking gauges. Iím considering using the Intellitronix ďCreate-a-dashĒ system. Thatís a smoked glass panel that the digital gauges shine through. Itíd have speedometer, tach, fuel, volts, oil pressure and temp. Iím not sure about the temp for an air-cooled engine. An oil plug mounted sensor? A Cylinder Head thermocouple? What are your thoughts?
    6. Switches, it seems to have the column mounted controls for the turn signals, horn, etc. and dash rocker switches for the rest. I think Iíll keep these, as is, unless theyíre faulty.
    7 The steering wheel is tiny, But Iíll leave that until it is on the road and see how heavy it is to wrestle.

    The suspension, steering, etc.
    1. Red9Design coilovers at the front?
    2. The same at the rear?
    3. Rack & pinion steering? Whatís possible? Easy(!!)?
    4. Disk brakes front & rear. But dual circuit master cylinder? Does that need to be changed? Size? Balance front/rear?
    5. Anti-sway bars?
    6. Transaxle: have it stripped down and inspected, then new seals and bearings as appropriate installed. WHAT options are available? I know different Beetles had slightly different gearing so whatís best for a Nova? What about Porsche gearboxesó901 ones from early 911s seem most easily done although extortionately costly?

    1 Replace all wiring with heavier gauge ones, relays for heavy loads. 4-way flasher if not already done.
    2 Heating? It seems that the stock system is viable with new and clean hoses, etc. Maybe add ďboostersĒ fans to help the standard systemís air flow?
    3 Heavier duty alternator.
    4 High torque starter?
    5 Electronic ignition replacing points, etc.

    Engine upgrades:
    1. Completely open here, but would like more performance AND sound.
    2. Ceramic coating the exhaust. What other related components? Heat exchangers?
    3. Chassis bracing?

    Anything else? Iím sure thereís lots....


  2. #2

  3. #3
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Peter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Estepona, Spain
    First off let me say; you gota do what you gata do, each unto their own, itís your car etc. BUT. I do worry for the cars future when the opening paragraph is about paintwork when that should be the last thing on any list and then a list of Ďmodernisationsí as these are generally the downfall of many a Ďprojectí.
    Recessing the lights, not a good idea, bad enough as they are without reducing vision, a Norega pod set up or even a TR7 Mazda type pop up would be better and give some semblance of light down the road. Rear fog lights are a good idea.

    Check out the °sliding side windowsí as they can be very difficult to achieve and actually give any decent opening. The shape certainly does not lend itís self to hat, maybe top hinged or a cockpit style.

    Sagging louvers, bound an alloy tube into the underside would be my choice.

    Seats, a huge choice, I donít think too m any Novas / SSs have the same set up or design. I used to have Bedford Rascal/Suzuki carrier seats recovered and changed for modern recliners, (they really need to be relining) and I regret it, the Bedford ones were far more comfy and a better fit. But as we say, each unto their own.

    Gauges, I have a Opal Astra digi-dash with analogue inputs that still look modern and have the temp gauge screwed into the oil pressure adaptor and hooked up to the oil tempí, works OK. Originally I had a triple gauge set up using classic Triumph Dolomite /Smith units centre mounted, kind of Ferrari looking, again I think considering the agro and expense going digital since I wish I had kept them.

    On a standard setup you will find a 10Ē wheel to heavy, most opt for a 12 or 13Ē (33cm) one and much bigger choice from 25 quid up.

    Coil over, expense verses improvements, Novas have this height problem so maybe coil over are worth a look at but cost v improvements, I would go std with decent shocks.
    Rack and pinion steering is well worth a look at and improves the car immensely.
    Many ways of doing it and a thread discussing that very subject it Ďhotí at the moment.

    Replacing all wiring, really? That can drag on and cause heart attacks, I know, I did it for a living. If it is a birds nest go for it but it is surprising how thin you actually need when you work out the amps, I only use heavier stuff when it involves wattage higher than 50, (headlights etc) so many builders over do it, no need. Alternator, 55Amp is more than enough, I have 650 Amps of music and electric doors etc and hardly troubles the volt meter.
    Electronic no contact conversion is cheap and easy, no need to pat Petronix stupid price, the 20 quid ones on eBay work just as well and at that price a spare is affordable but 90 quid, no, had a Petronix one to go with the coil and it died.
    High torque starter, as long as motor is good no real need, even on my stage three I donít feel the need but if the budget runs to it, they are good.

    Engine mods? Done them all, so pick and choose. &K will get you about 100hp, but I guess most on here would say spend money on a Subaru or Alfa conversion, probably right too.

    But,,,,, it's your car.
    The opinions expressed in my posts may not be made in a sound mind and should be taken in the spirit intended, Jack Daniels is fine.
    Some people see things as they are and ask why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not?Ē JFK
    Genuine and an original, "Grumpy old mechanic".

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Hailsham, E Sussex
    Thatís some list for starters, but we have all had one of those at some point.
    A good guide will of course be budget and time frame. You need to know this, but you wonít stick to it 😂
    When I built mine I promised myself to do at least 5 minutes on the car every day. And I stuck to it. And it still took me 2 years to ď finish itĒ. ( They are never finished !)
    Have your wish list, work out the cost of the parts for each part then go from there.
    A starter, red9 coilover front and back will set you back a grand !!

  5. #5
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** BlueNova's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    St Andrews, Scotland
    Hi James,
    Yes, thatís quite a list. Phill gave me good advice when I started my rebuild .... break it down into separate projects and focus on one or two at a time. Since youíll be taking the body off to get the chassis and suspension done thatís a good place to start focussing your attention. I tried to follow Markís (Buffyís) advice re 5 mins a day but had long spells doing nothing due to work commitments. Iím now 3 years in and have a rolling chassis. Hopefully a silver lining from this awful virus and me not working for the foreseeable will be that I can try to Ďcatch upí ... but Iím often reminded by Phill and Peter that itís not a race ... enjoy the journey along the way!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Phill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Livingston (Scotland)
    Good luck with the rebuild and well done for having an ambitous set of upgrades.

    Regarding the louvre sagging - this is a common problem - mine was tackled by the previous owner who used cataloy to beef up the underside. Probably not the best way to do it but it worked. Better to do as Peter suggests and bond in some bracing.

    The wheels you have there are gorgeous. My favourite wheel design in fact for the Nova, and what I had on my original car. They should re-furbish really well.

    I fitted MX5 seats into my car which are narrow enough to fit - and because they recline they are better suited (given the minium headrooom) than fixed back seats which force you to sit more upright

    I have had both 12" and 10" on my car and whilst I prefer the 12" I needed to switch to 10" in order to see my speedo. Having said that , 10" while heavy at parking speed is fine when on the move and gives the car a sportier feel

    You can switch to standard beetle discs on the front with ease as the parts are readily available, as is a dual circuit master cylinder. Disc brakes on the rear would be desirable (though probably expensive) to compensate for the overbraking caused by discs on the front but this can be overcome by fitting a brake pressure reduction valve in the front circuit to apply less pressure to the front and allow the drums to work a bit harder preventing front wheel lock up. I know Alistair has plans to do this and I am thinking of doing the same.

    As Peter said - the wiring is pretty simple in these cars. There isn't much to place a big demand on the system in comparison to modern cars, so you may well be fine with what you have got already. However, Re-wiring is not a difficult job and there is plenty of advice available if you look back at the many threads on this site.

    It's all down to budget of course. If you have an unlimited budget then anything is possible. But a great deal can be achieved if your budget is limited and you stick to standard Beetle parts.

    When I rebuilt mine - my main aim was to get the car on the road at minimal cost. Then upgrade the car over time as and when I had the inclination and funds to do so and to avoid it becoming a money pit.
    "The most beautiful kit car in the world - Motor"

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland
    Thanks for all your suggestions.

    Regarding time frame/budget: Iím part-retired and can comfortably devote a1/2 day/week to this on average, more in the spring and summer, less in the autumn. My plan is to have a VW restorer do the basic chassis strip down, have it dipped and then repair/weld any rust/rot, and rust proof and paint chassis black. While theyíre doing that Iíd clean, paint and upgrade/renew the suspension, steering and brakes for remounting. From your comments it seems sensible now to see how well it runs on a renewed standard setup before investing so much in trying to improve it. The VW specialist Iím using wasnít inclined to change much, as it happens. So Iíd hope to get a rolling chassis back within a relatively reasonable time.

    Id also plan on having some help with the engine preparation. Iím not entirely sure of what Iíve got. I think it has the crankcase from the original car, but modified with 1600 cylinders and head. See the photo:

    The head casting has a number 040 101 375 2 that seems to denote a Brazilian manufactured 1600 two port, but Iíve also been told I need to pull it apart to really know whatís inside. Iím resigned to doing that. Then have a specialist do any machine work. Reassemble myself. Similarly have the transaxle professionally redone. I'd then put it all back together. New seals, wheel bearings, etc. all around. New clutch kit as may be needed for an uprated engine.

    One aspect that hasnít been raised are poly bushings. These are usually seen in other British sports cars as an easy upgrade to the suspension. Any experience with these? Iíll troll through to forums and see what the VW folk have to say about them.

  8. #8
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland
    Considering the electrics and lighting.

    The car has been stored for well over 20 years, and I donít know when it was last on the road. It doesnít seem to show much wear and tear from usage or being on the road. Things like worn carpet/upholstery, tyre wear. Things like brake pads may reflect its pre-Nova life, unknown though a preliminary inspection looks pretty good for a 50 year old chassis and running gear.

    I donít trust the wiring. Under the instrument pod it was a ratís nest, and Iíd need to thoroughly check everything, and add in the wiring Iíd want for extra lights.


    I want to keep the car as original looking as possible and having pop-up headlights or other major alterations wouldnít be appropriate. Iím considering mounting the lights behind the panel with a cut-out allowing the glass lens to sit flush with the panel, maybe more centred in the panel, with the turn signal moved to the lower orifice.

    My Olympic uses Beetle light covers so Iím familiar with the drawbacks of these light covers, hence the auxiliary lighting Iíd install.

    Trying to make sense of the existing wiring may be a major headache. Iíve downloaded the VW wiring diagrams for the likely years but havenít yet had time to see how well they match whatís there. I could be surprised and find the current wiring works properly, but ... if so I could add what Iím going to improve and bind it all up into neat harnesses.

  9. #9
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** BlueNova's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    St Andrews, Scotland

    I'm not at the wiring stage yet but like you, I don't trust my wiring after the mice and their future generations occupied my Nova over nearly 30 years!

    Check out Phill's thread. He put off re-wiring because he was concerned about the complexity, but he thought it through from 1st principles and produced helpful diagrams. His Nova is now running with the new wiring so that's good enough for me. When I get to that stage I'll be heading straight to his thread ... thanks in advance Phill !!


  10. #10
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter***
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    East Riding
    That is a big list, but I guess all our lists start that way. Depending on the amount you are shipping out at half a day a week its got to be a 5 year project. But then in our current situation if funds are available you could have 12 weeks solid on it and be done by the summer.


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