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Old 09-28-2012, 05:59 PM
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First project car? Nova, Falcon, other?

Hi All,

I'm still relatively new to the car scene, having only bought my first car about six years ago. Since then I've rebuilt and modified four cars (three Integras and one BMW). I think I'm getting the hang of things, having learned a lot and acquired a good set of tools (and a place to put them).

Now that I'm looking for my next project and have more disposable income, I'm pretty set on getting a 1960's car to make my own.

Originally, I was set on a 65 Galaxie, loving the vertical headlights and boxy body style. However, I don't want something that large as I want this to be my daily driver.

Then, I got set on a 65 Comet since it shared a lot of design elements with the Galaxie, and I wanted to drop it on a Panther chassis (having the same width and wheelbase). Right now I don't have the space necessary to take on this project so I'm sidelining it for the moment.

After scouring Craigslist for years and getting a sense of what's out there, I'm less inclined to get a single-model-year car like the 65 Comet. I'm now looking to the cars that are most readily available, and therefore easier to find a nice example of and get (cheap) parts for.

This has led me to two cars which I see as being quite similar. The 64-65 Falcon, and the 62-65 Chevy II (Nova).

From the comparisons I've read thus far, people seem to give the Nova the nod in terms of ease of modding, price, etc., while the Falcon is the less common with more interesting styling.

I'm looking for anyone that has first hand experience with these two cars, or any other compact 1960's car that would be a good first classic car.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 09-28-2012, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benmoo View Post
From the comparisons I've read thus far, people seem to give the Nova the nod in terms of ease of modding, price, etc., while the Falcon is the less common with more interesting styling.
I believe starting w/a vehicle that has a good supply of parts and info will pay dividends come rebuild/body/trim/interior parts replacement time. Hunting the junkyards for good sheetmetal can be a real chore, for example.

The early Chevy II/Nova (through '67) have a fairly good support in the aftermarket and could make a good project. Nothing has the support of the F-cars, though (Camaro/Firebird), but everyone has one it seems.

Early Mustangs have good support, much better than the Falcon or Comet- but lacks the niche appeal to some (I suspect you fall into this group, as do I). But you have to ask yourself if working w/a "one-off" is worth it, especially being as how this will be your first excursion into this field in earnest.

Now, if this will be a keeper, you might want to go the extra mile (and dollar) to work w/a one-off. Otherwise keep more to the mainstream until you get more experience.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:57 PM
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before you buy one of those cars,spend some time driving one.If you liked the modern hondas and BMWs,then run away from the 60s American cars. They dont stop well,they handle poorly after being modified. Ive owned 4 chevy2s and a 65 Caliente.The ford was traded soon after I got it(made money,no choice) both cars have a nice style,,,,personal choice. A chevy2 can get lots of improved parts,most important being a better front end.They have front sump pans that are not favourable to drag racing. The lower control arms flex when cornering and the car is reluctant to turn if you drive aggressively in corners.If you have lots of money then all that can be changed.

you need to tell us more of your plans so we can shoot them down,,,,lol, JK. maybe we can help more
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for the responses guys. I am aware of the limitations of these cars in the stock form, and I do plan on changing almost all the running gear. I am mostly interested in the aesthetics of these cars and not their dynamics.

My plans are to make one of these cars into a viable daily driver with the following modifications:

- Modern FI drivetrain
- Modern suspension
- Modern brakes
- Modern HVAC
- Custom interior
- Chassis strengthening (stitch welding + partial rollcage)

This would be a budget build, so all these parts would be gathered from junkyards and non-ops from craigslist, or the majority from a running car (like my p71 crown vic).
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt327 View Post
I believe starting w/a vehicle that has a good supply of parts and info will pay dividends come rebuild/body/trim/interior parts replacement time. Hunting the junkyards for good sheetmetal can be a real chore, for example.

The early Chevy II/Nova (through '67) have a fairly good support in the aftermarket and could make a good project. Nothing has the support of the F-cars, though (Camaro/Firebird), but everyone has one it seems.

Early Mustangs have good support, much better than the Falcon or Comet- but lacks the niche appeal to some (I suspect you fall into this group, as do I). But you have to ask yourself if working w/a "one-off" is worth it, especially being as how this will be your first excursion into this field in earnest.

Now, if this will be a keeper, you might want to go the extra mile (and dollar) to work w/a one-off. Otherwise keep more to the mainstream until you get more experience.
Yes, you have me pegged correctly. I am not into the pony cars. I am specifically going after something pedestrian (4 doors only).

Also, like you said, I want this first build to not necessarily be a rare car. I'd like to knock out a couple project cars before restoring something more rare/collectible.
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:58 AM
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maybe look at a 65 Beaumont 4 door?I like the interior in those cars,a little more room than a chevy2.w/e you choose have fun with it.(Beaumont has a better front end,chevy2 has terrible lower control arm strength)
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:47 PM
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I would think 64-67 chevelle or Lemans GTO would be a good choice. Olds cutlass or 442 clone would be smokin. all are Full frame but not lead sled heavy. Strong suspension, a tad roomier than a chevy II or nova, many upgrade type parts available off the shelf for them.
The falcon is pretty anemic, no frame , just a unibody, and the suspension is cheezie as it uses the upper control arm as the load bearing part and the lower is just the follower. Can be unstable combined with unibody construction, horsepower,spirited driving and all. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
The 64 chevelle post coupe is the lightest and smallest of 64 A bodys GM had. And Tons of stuff will fit.Plus the re sale is better on the chevy vereses the ford.
On the other hand the falcon and falcon wagons make excellent drag strip cars as they are very light, but still need cages, and other structural mods to compete safely.FWIW
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:08 PM
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If you are going to replace everything and only use the shell, then get what you like.
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by against all odds View Post
If you are going to replace everything and only use the shell, then get what you like.
This is also true.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:06 AM
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LATECH right on the money. Full-frame cars of the era are FAR superior to build into good street cars. The GM A-bodies are obviously the most plentiful, and probably the best overall basis. If you really want a 4-door sedan (avoid 4-door "hard tops" for performance), it should be pretty easy to find at a reasonable cost, as they're the least "popular" of the styles. The Ford and Chrysler offerings were all "uni-body" except the BIG cars.

Understand that ALL the performance "goodies" for the suspension that fit the 2-door coupes and hard tops also fit the 4-door. Don't be fooled. While these cars LOOK big and heavy, they really aren't. They average around 3,500 lbs. unless "fully equipped". Linear traction is among the best ever for a production "family" car ("4-link", coil spring). Lateral traction is VASTLY improved with modern suspension components readily avialable. Add a "quick ratio" steering box and you have a FUN car that really does "handle". Talk about a sleeper...

Engine options are wide and "varied" as well. The small block Chevy offers peppy performance at a reasonable cost. Both the big block Chevy and Pontiac can provide SERIOUS torque and HP for an "affordable" price. The big Olds and Buick engines have some advantages, but are generally more expensive to build reliably. Less availability for higher level performance parts, as well. If low-end torque and light weight are an appealing combination, the Buick 455 is the better one. It IS limited in ultimate power output and RPM due to the lighter weight. ALL of these engines literally "bolt right in".

The "plain jane" Chevelles, Cutlass, Tempest and Skylark are the ones to look for. They usually have smaller engines (don't be shy about 6-cylinder cars), less options and were true "family" cars (less abuse than the muscle cars). EVERYTHING that makes a muscle car a "muscle car" fits these cars.

Just a thought or two...

Jim
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:15 AM
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Personally, I love all cars. That being said I wouldn't go looking for a single make model and year as you are talking, I would be looking for ANY of them. Not that you would take any car understand, I would be looking for the best car I could find for my plans, condition wise, not make model and year.

If you have an open mind like this, you will be looking on craiglist or a swap meet and see a 64 Nova (my personal pick of the ones you are tossing out) because you have chosen the Nova to be "your car". You go look at this Nova that has some rust, it's dash has been cut up for a stereo, it has a hacked up engine compartment with holes cut in the aprons for fender well headers, but you have chosen a Nova as your car so you are looking at buying it. All the while there is a 65 Falcon you didn't go look at that has a super nice body, it's a strippo six cylinder car that you can get real cheap because it's a strippo and you never go looking at it ending up with the hacked up Nova.

Look at all the cars you can see and the BEST one condition wise is what you should buy. And when you do this it's amazing what will fall in your lap. Recently my nephew wasn't even looking and he fell upon a 4 door 55 Hudson Wasp. Believe me a four door Hudson wasn't his dream car. But it fell in his lap at a real good price and it is literally restored! Paint and interior is super nice, he got it for $1500! If he had been looking for only a certain car he would have passed this super nice deal by. He is going to be driving it every day, he is going thru the brakes right now which is the only thing it needs, it runs like a top.

Go look at everything!

Brian
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. P-Body View Post
LATECH right on the money. Full-frame cars of the era are FAR superior to build into good street cars. The GM A-bodies are obviously the most plentiful, and probably the best overall basis. If you really want a 4-door sedan (avoid 4-door "hard tops" for performance), it should be pretty easy to find at a reasonable cost, as they're the least "popular" of the styles. The Ford and Chrysler offerings were all "uni-body" except the BIG cars.

Understand that ALL the performance "goodies" for the suspension that fit the 2-door coupes and hard tops also fit the 4-door. Don't be fooled. While these cars LOOK big and heavy, they really aren't. They average around 3,500 lbs. unless "fully equipped". Linear traction is among the best ever for a production "family" car ("4-link", coil spring). Lateral traction is VASTLY improved with modern suspension components readily avialable. Add a "quick ratio" steering box and you have a FUN car that really does "handle". Talk about a sleeper...

Engine options are wide and "varied" as well. The small block Chevy offers peppy performance at a reasonable cost. Both the big block Chevy and Pontiac can provide SERIOUS torque and HP for an "affordable" price. The big Olds and Buick engines have some advantages, but are generally more expensive to build reliably. Less availability for higher level performance parts, as well. If low-end torque and light weight are an appealing combination, the Buick 455 is the better one. It IS limited in ultimate power output and RPM due to the lighter weight. ALL of these engines literally "bolt right in".

The "plain jane" Chevelles, Cutlass, Tempest and Skylark are the ones to look for. They usually have smaller engines (don't be shy about 6-cylinder cars), less options and were true "family" cars (less abuse than the muscle cars). EVERYTHING that makes a muscle car a "muscle car" fits these cars.

Just a thought or two...

Jim
The A bodies are a very good pick, I have one and have had a number of them, they are the best overall automobile in American car history in my opinion.

Brian
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:19 AM
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Since the plan is replace everything and add a chassis, if necessary, whether a particular car has a full frame or is unibody is irrelevant.
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:29 PM
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Like against all odds says, it doesn't matter what I choose if I intend to change everything. However, I'm glad I got more feedback about other choices. The first gen Chevelles looks like a strong candidate, I'm liking the styling/dimensions especially on the 64-65. I'll have to keep an eye out for one.

Something like this looks perfect:
1965 CHEVELLE 4 door
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:10 PM
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How about the 65 - 69 Ford Fairlane / Torino? (or Merc Montego, Cougar, etc)
The're a mid-size car that have much the same chassis components as the Mustang. Less popular, especially in a 4-door platform.

If you went into the 70's, early 80's ... the Granada / Monarch was also very similar in construction. Ford Fairmont / Mercury Zephyr? again, very similar
.
Yes, the Bendix "power assist" steering system SUCKED, and so did the shock towers in the engine bay. Both of those shortcomings can be remedied with an MII rack and pinion and modern suspensions.

Some models came with a 390, C6, 9" diff combination so engine swap possibilities are good. I had a 68 Torino 2-dr HT with a 351C - 4V in it, and had a lot of fun with it!

Then there were all the Nova "clones" that were also somewhat popular in the 70's?
(eg. Pontiac Ventura, Olds Omega, Buick Apollo) The badges were a little less popular but they were the same car. That may give you that one-off niche that you're looking for without sacrificing parts availability.

Dodge Dart, Aspen / Plymouth Scamp, Volare

The list goes on and on.
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