1969 Nova Decals
Reproduction Stickers, Tags & Printed Paper For Your Muscle Car
Wayne Scraba - September 29, 2011 12:00 PM
For Your Information
1 Here’s a sampling of engine compartment decals readily available from restoration suppliers such as Classic Industries: At the left are both decals for an L72-equipped Chevy air cleaner (Impala, COPO Camaro, Yenko Nova conversion, etc). At the top right is a service information decal for an open element Chevrolet air cleaner. In the center right is a coolant caution label, and at the bottom right is the emission control (tune up) label. Both go on the radiator support. There is no “Caution Fan” label for the fan shroud because Chevy never used them in the era – Ford did.
2 The folks from Classic Industries steered us (literally) to these seldom seen pieces. The yellow dot is an inspection sticker for Saginaw steering boxes. It’s usually found on the aluminum cover. Meanwhile, the “CU” tag is an identifier for 1969 cars with power disc brakes. It’s installed between the power booster check valve and booster hose.
3 Way back when, you’d regularly find these bits inside the glove box: Owner’s manual, along with the bag it’s stored in, as well as this warning card for the warranty book. The warning card lays out what isn’t covered by the factory. By the way, compare the thickness of yesteryear’s owner’s manual to one for today. Even more revealing is the fact the manual covered three different car lines, and it still takes up less space than the radio operating instructions for a current pickup truck.
4 We’re not done with the interior paperwork. The tire pressure sticker was installed on the driver’s door in 1969, but earlier cars had decals installed on the glove box door. Tire size and models also dictate which decal is used. This one is for a Nova SS with E70-14 tires. Below the tire pressure decal is a paper sleeve that was installed on the driver-side sunvisor. One side was printed with the instructions on how to use GM’s new anti-theft column-mounted ignition switch, while the reverse side has starting instructions. Finally, the paper on the right is a PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) sheet, which was provided to the original owner by the dealer.
5 Here are two decals you’ll find on the trunk lid – the Positraction “caution” decal along with jacking instructions. Note the printing date for the Posi decal: 7-22-58. Back then, things (obviously) didn’t have to change much. When new, these decals were often placed haphazardly on the decklid, between the bracing. In fact, perfectly aligned trunk decals are the exception rather than the rule.
6 This is a series of decals you seldom see. They’re located under the car and subject to plenty of road rash. You will sometimes find them (or traces of them) on low-mileage cars. The long silver foil decals on the right are leaf spring tags. The decal was wound around the leaf spring. Meanwhile, the blue tags to the left are front spring tags. Here, the tag was wrapped around a single coil in the spring and fastened back onto itself. The little “PS” and “UN” decals were fitted to Delco spiral shocks. Finally, the yellow “AD” decals were installed on the front disc brake backing plates (splash shields).
7 Some more uncommon bits are the Feature and Spec Manual, as well as the Accessory Price List. The Feature and Spec Manual is actually part of the Dealer Album. It shows basic specs and color choices, along with option descriptions. The Accessory Price List is likely incorrectly named. It shows the base price of the car (1969 Nova in this case) along with all option prices. These are absolutely fascinating. Imagine buying a stripped 375-horsepower Nova SS for well under $3,500 new.
8 Way back when, Chevrolet had a promotion at the dealership level for the Chevy Sports Department. To draw attention to their considerable fleet of high performance cars, they printed a unique brochure that showed all of the available models, including the Corvair! The other publication in the photo is a reproduction of the dealer custom features price list. What’s that? It’s a list of add-ons and accessories such as floor mats, flare kits, spotlights and even add-on air and power steering for your Chevy. Like the Accessory Price List, the prices here are over the top. For example, a set of floor mats cost $5.50!
9 If you work on your car regularly, you need this. It’s a laminated wiring diagram that Classic Industries sells. One side does the front half of the car, while the flipside does the other half. They offer them for most Chevrolets. We keep this one in a toolbox drawer.
10 We’ve looked at factory (Chevy) service publications before – GM used Service, Overhaul and Fisher body manuals at the dealership level to perform maintenance and repairs on specific models. Additionally, at the manufacturing level, GM used Assembly Instruction Manuals to physically build the cars. You can buy all of those manuals at most restoration supply houses. We also recommend you purchase these manuals as well. Some of the factory manuals tend to be vague in certain areas. Between the Chilton’s and Haynes manuals, you’ll often get a step-by-step approach to basic repairs, and that helps to fill in the blanks with the Chevy factory manuals.
Open the hood, peer through an open door or pop open the decklid on a well-restored muscle car and you’ll be met with plenty of detail. Some of it has to do with correct hardware, along with appropriate component finishes for various bits and pieces, but having the right decals and the right paperwork for (and on) your car actually goes a long way toward making the restoration complete.
Our case in point is this Nova. With this particular car, it doesn’t have to be perfectly correct (and it likely won’t be either), but we still want it to look good. As a result, we researched what was out there. To be honest, there’s a wee bit of a maze of pieces available, so we picked up the phone and asked Classic Industries for help. What follows is a basic compilation of the considerable items they have available, and this is just for a 1969 Nova – other Chevys in their parts arsenal are equally well represented. Some of the pieces are common. Others aren’t.
Starting with the engine compartment, many muscle car-era GM products in general and Chevrolets in particular need an emission control or tune-up decal. They’re typically seen on the radiator support. For most V-8 Chevys, an engine displacement decal was used along with a matching horsepower decal for the air cleaner lid. Underneath the air cleaner lid, you’ll often discover maintenance information. On stock big blocks, there’s a Tonawanda Team decal located on the passenger-side valve cover. Most cars also had a coolant info decal. When delivered, there was usually an ID tag for the power brake booster and often a tag on the master cylinder bail wires. Finally, there’s usually an inspection sticker for the steering box.
Inside the car, there’s sometimes a tire pressure label on the glove box door. When delivered to the owner as a new car, a paper sleeve was often used on the ignition switch or on the sunvisor. Open the glove box and you’ll find the owner’s manual in a plastic bag, along with the warranty card and most often, the PDI sheet. Some GM cars had a “Mark of Excellence” decal on the door jamb area.
Inside the luggage compartment (at least on a Chevy), you’ll find a Positraction warning label along with jacking instructions. Under the car, you’ll find decals on each disc brake shield, along with tags on both coil springs and leaf springs that were placed there when the car was built.
Today, plenty of vintage sales and service information is readily available. Included in the mix are reproduction sales brochures, base and optional equipment price lists, accessory price lists, Assembly Instruction Manuals (AIM), service manuals, overhaul manuals and body manuals. Vintage aftermarket manuals, such as those published by Chilton’s and by Haynes, are readily available too. Full color wiring diagrams and even reproduction window stickers can also be found.
In the end, you can see there’s plenty of printed detail-oriented bits and pieces available. Given the different makes and models of cars manufactured during the muscle car era, we’ve barely scratched the surface. If you do a bit of digging, you can find just about every decal and printed piece of paper made for a vintage muscle car. It might not exactly meet the definition of “decal-o-mania,” but for our world of muscle cars, it comes pretty darn close. It’ll give you that visual extra to make it well worth the experience.