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1971 nova front end

I love my Chevy Chevette!
Posts: 2
Joined: 05/13
Posted: 05/16/13 10:12 PM

I would like some good advice on how hard it would be to convert my steering to rack/pinion if it would be tons better handling and allow me to put headers in again but be able to open up area for looks and clearance. Any drawbacks cause I can't decide to do it unless it makes it tons better to drive.also how big of a deal is it to convert to disc brakes in front. I seem to have problem getting local shops to act even a little excited about it. Will it convert easily with an experienced brake man or is it scary stuff to do.i want to take to a nice shop but don't want to be nailed on install any thoughts.?  I want to modify so bad but have to know its safe  sweet driving etc.i will be able to put car on road again. I can hardly stand to wait any longer.i just retired my 396 which broke me with cam after cam and want to put a factory big block or late model Chevy motor back in.i have a six speed that I ran it with and 373.0 gears / posi and oh my god how fun it was. Thank you for any advice i get and I hope it is sound safe justifiable.  

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I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2253
Joined: 07/08
Posted: 05/17/13 03:55 AM

If you can find a donor car with front disc brakes the swap is not too hard.
That may be difficult as there are few of those cars left. Early model Camaros had the same setup but they are even harder to find. The aftermarket has kits but they are expensive. Rack and pinion steering is better for header clearance and some weight loss but I did not see any other advantage there and they do make kits for that too.
I did both those changes on a 70 Nova BB drag car I had. The brakes definitely helped stopping on 100+ mph runs.
Why were you going thru so many cams?
The Chevy 572BB is a pretty good motor for the money. Performance will be far better than your 396 and all you have to do is install it. 600-700hp without much hassle,and reasonable cost, hard to beat.  

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I have an SS396 tatoo
Posts: 251
Joined: 03/13
Posted: 05/17/13 05:09 AM

you might want to check out this article... i know there are more..

camaros and second gen novas since they use first gen camaro front suspensions are covered in a bunch of magazines on this site..

Hotrod, Carcraft, popularhotrodding, superchevy, chevyhiperformance, camaroperformers,  i know i am missing one or two.

here is ONE of several articles spread out in the magazines here on rack and pinion installation.

as for being excited on changing to a rack and pinion... most shops may look at the amount of engineering to get it right.. without a proper steel fab facility..  water jet cutter or plasma cutter.. big steel brake to bend steel plate.. and a lot of time to do engineering .. no independent shop is going to be excited. think about 40 hours to 50 hours of trial and fit.. and parts chasing/sourcing...  now.. add that up at shop rates of ... say.. 100 bucks an hour per person..  so that 4 to 7 grand to create "a one off" for a customer.. who might want to do it on the cheep..  and then you want to do it safely.. improve the steering and handling...  their eyes must be rolling quietly behind their eyelids when they blink..

i am also curious about what was causing repeated cam failures??  what failed... cam lobes went flat?? was it always on the same lobe??  or lobes??  did you have oil with the additional ZDDP added?? to prevent cam lobe failures? were the lifters free to slide in and out easily when installing.. once in a great while...  somebody will extract a lifter that has some Mushroomed end damage and it will scratch the lifter bore preventing the new lifter from freely being able to spin..
there are a lot of things that could go wrong with cam failures...

don't throw out the 396...  they are decent motors.. lets figure out what and why its failing... there are TONS of smart people here who will almost always be glad to help with their fingertips and tremendous brain power..  

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I mow my lawn and find Chevys
Posts: 2253
Joined: 07/08
Posted: 05/17/13 02:38 PM

I agree.
Going thru all the trouble of switching to a rack and pinion is most likely not worth the trouble.
Like Wayne said there has got to be a reason for cam failure. Excessive spring pressure on break in is one I had a lot of trouble with. Went to rollers and cured the problem forever. Never ran another flat tappet cam.  

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