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Ecklers AutoMotive
Username Post: 74-79 as a first car?        (Topic#317396)
Dagger311 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 7
Dagger311
Age: 21
Loc: Georgia
Reg: 10-28-14
10-29-14 09:04 AM - Post#2494525    

Hey everyone. Before you shoot me down about gas prices, I'd just like to say my commute is going to be very short, and I'm more than willing to put up with bad mpgs to have such a nice car.

I really, really want a classic muscle car. My biggest worry is reliability and insurance prices. I'm aware everything is going to have high insurance costs at my age. I just have a few questions for any owners.

How do they ride? Pretty nice, or is it like going ten rounds with a bear?

Is insurance too high for it to be feasable on a minimum wage full time job?

What kind of gas mileage can I expect from the small block V8s? I know it won't be as good as some other cars in a similar budget, but...

Anything on safety? I'm not looking for a death trap.

How easy are they to work on?

Speaking of that, are parts plentiful?

How is the aftermarket for them?

Would you reccomend this over a third gen F body? Why or why not?

What about a fourth gen?

Or a Malibu from a similar year range?

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps me out. I understand there are way more practical choices, but I really don't want to be stuck driving a Camry, Altima, or any of the cars like that. I want something different, modifiable, something that will stand out a bit. I also want honest opinions. If you don't think it would be money feasible for me to have one, just tell me, and I'll start looking for other things.

*Insert witty and meaningful saying*


Edited by Dagger311 on 10-29-14 09:04 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Ecklers AutoMotive
lofat46 
Contributor
Posts: 259
lofat46
Loc: Bloomingdale, IL
Reg: 08-12-13
11-04-14 01:36 PM - Post#2496137    
    In response to Dagger311

I don't think anyone here would complain about you wanting to drive a cool Nova as a daily driver. It's great to see someone your age interested in good old American rear wheel drive V8 powered cars instead of some foreign front wheel drive hunk of plastic with a large fart can exhaust. You mentioned '74-9 Novas. The '74 was the last year of the 1968 redesign and technically the last year when it could be considered a "muscle car". I've only owned 1970 Novas but I do recall in '75 Chevy introduced a Nova police package that was quite quick and the 350 was still available in the Nova. I do seem to recall an issue with the '75-9 Nova that caused many of them to dog-track down the road. That means it would go down the road sideways. Maybe someone more familiar with those years could expound on that issue. Though I liked the '75-9 if I were looking for a late '70's GM car my tastes would lean to a '78 or later Malibu 2-door. They still alluded to a true hardtop design and IMHO were much sportier than the Nova.
Insurance for a 16 year old I don't think would be cheap anywhere. Novas and Malibu's from the '70's weren't the best riding cars but were not bad and would be easy to drive . The mileage you get from a small V8 depends on how you control your right foot.. If you're talking about a stock 305 or 350 4-bbl if you can control the urge to open the four barrel you can probably expect around 14-16 mpg. Maybe you'll be lucky and find an older car someone has transplanted a newer LS engine and overdrive trans into then you could probably expect mpg's in the low 20 range.
That's just my 2 cents worth but whatever car you wind up with have fun with it and learn with it.





Edited by lofat46 on 11-04-14 01:42 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Dagger311 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 7
Dagger311
Age: 21
Loc: Georgia
Reg: 10-28-14
11-08-14 07:52 PM - Post#2497181    
    In response to lofat46

Hey,thanks for your answers! I wouldn't mind a Malibu, it depends on what I could find to be honest. There's also a junkyard around here that has a beautiful rusty 64 Impala. If it had an engine, I swear I'd buy it.

I really like the early 80's Monte Carlos as well. Definitely looking for a 70's-80's GM RWD V8 car. What would your recommendation be?

I also considered a truck, but decided backseats are a good thing.

*Insert witty and meaningful saying*


 
lofat46 
Contributor
Posts: 259
lofat46
Loc: Bloomingdale, IL
Reg: 08-12-13
11-13-14 12:33 PM - Post#2498365    
    In response to Dagger311

My tastes in cars is focused on the late 1940's but since you asked, if I were looking for an '80's GM car I'd be looking for a '81 t0 '88 Olds Cutlass or Buick Regal or Monte Carlo, maybe a Grand Prix. The Malibus are nice but I've always liked Cutlass and Regal leaning towards the Cutlass. The only thing I can say bad about the Olds and Buicks is that a lot of them came with a 307 Olds engine which ran nice but had a lot of issues with quality. I heard someone call them "soft block" engines. They were prone to coolant leaks. My son's first car was a black '84 Regal with the 307. It had been an unmarked State Police car. It was pretty fast but it kept getting leaks around the intake manifold and water pump. The nice thing about any of those GM cars is you can put a Chevy motor in them with just a change of motor mounts. A seldom seem GM car from that era that would be cool is the Pontiac LeMans.





 
Bill K.b 
Senior Member
Posts: 4440

Loc: upstate NY
Reg: 10-24-05
11-13-14 11:05 PM - Post#2498533    
    In response to lofat46

75-79 Nova's not a bad first car. Parts aren't too bad. I've seen a few in Pull-a-Part yards, one in Columbia SC last year I picked a factory tilt out of - was a Ventura, but that's just Pontiac badges, taillights, and nose mostly.

Suspension is largely the same as second-gen Camaro, too.

And one with a six would get fairly decent fuel mileage, but let you swap to a 350 later.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize it on the internet.

Driving 2002 Express 2500
2002 Express 2500 extended
1988 G20 conversion
1993 GMC 3500 dually

Plus cars for swap and sale
& yes, I once tried a frame swap on a 51 Chevy.


 
Dagger311 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 7
Dagger311
Age: 21
Loc: Georgia
Reg: 10-28-14
11-14-14 04:31 PM - Post#2498705    
    In response to lofat46

Thanks! But to be honest, I've gotten lots of seat time in our 2008 Rogue over the week, and I'm not sure I could handle a RWD V8 this soon. I'll be looking at V6 models of the Nova, as the above poster mentioned, as well as the 80's Monte Carlo, because I do really love the styling.

*Insert witty and meaningful saying*


 
Yenkonova 
Senior Member
Posts: 790
Yenkonova
Loc: Pueblo, CO
Reg: 07-23-04
11-15-14 10:42 PM - Post#2498982    
    In response to Dagger311

I've got a little experience here.. My first car (still have) was a '69 Nova. Plus we had an assortment of 78 Malibu 2dr's, a 79 El Camino and one 78 Malibu wagon.

Honestly, they are not bad to drive in stock form. They are pretty softly sprung with overboosted steering. Stock V8's are pretty anemic in that era too. 150hp or so, or less than most V6's and 4 bangers today. So unless the car you find has been modified, don't expect to be winning any stoplight drag races.

Due to the fuel crunch at that time, most of these cars were shipped with equally anemic gearing 2.50 to 2.73 range. Meaning it only adds to the weak performance.

If you find a stock one, you can drive it without being worried if it's "too much" car for you. My Nova had it's original 307 when I got it. Complete with a 2.73 axle, single exhaust and a 2bbl carb. First pass down the dragstrip with a couple of burnt valves was 22 seconds. I couldn't do a burnout without a lot of water and a lot of pumping the brake to get it spinning. Again, performance is pretty tame for a V8 car compared to the earlier big block or pre-emissions era small blocks making more power.

A 75-79 Nova or x-body cousin is a decent car. They do share a similar subframe to the 2nd gen Camaro/Firebird too. They can be made to handle for sure. In stock form they don't do bad on fuel mileage if it's tuned up.

78-81 Malibu 2drs are a pretty good choice too. Similar drivetrains/power output stock. Full Frame vs the unibody in the Nova. Coil springs on all 4 corners. Our 4-speed 78 has (still have it too) the F41 handling package with sway bars on both ends and that car hooked corners pretty well compared to the other two 2drs we had without it. The 4-speed made it way more fun to drive than the other ones or my Nova, but 4-speeds are VERY rare to find today. The Malibu's share most parts besides sheet metal with Monte Carlos, Regals, Cutlass and Grand Prix.

Either platform is very easy to modify for better performance. Any small block of your choice will bolt in. Multiple transmission choices are available too. You can even swap in a more modern LS small blocks in with adapter mounts.

As a first car either would be just fine.

Rob Z.


'69 Nova (quick one)
'75 K5 Blazer (slow one)
'97 S10 2wd faux-SS (Daily Driver)
'04 TrailBlazer (Grocery getter)


 
Dagger311 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 7
Dagger311
Age: 21
Loc: Georgia
Reg: 10-28-14
11-17-14 07:10 AM - Post#2499271    
    In response to Yenkonova

Thanks for the advice! That smog stuff must've destroyed the power, cause the Rogue makes 170 out of a 4 cylinder.

I really like the idea of a late 70's or early 80's car because of what they can be. I've heard most of the work can be done fairly easy on them, so that leaves room to add more power when I can handle it.

I do have another question, when I do eventually go out to find one, what problems should I be looking for in it? It doesn't have to be perfect, but I can't afford to have a huge money pit either.

*Insert witty and meaningful saying*


 
Chevy 4 Life 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1393

Reg: 03-14-14
06-23-16 08:58 AM - Post#2635592    
    In response to Dagger311

IMHO you can buy an 80s camaro or pontiac firebird fairly cheap. They are easy to work on and the only thing to look for on those is the simple stuff like, good brakes, no leaks, tranny shifts good and whether you want ac or not. My brother just sold a 92 camaro 25th anniversary edition z28 with a 5sp tranny for $1200. They only have like 150hp, pretty decent on gas and insurance due to the low factory hp rating. Good luck and keep us posted kid.



 
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