Research Topic: Nova Buildsheets

Research Goal:

Explain the different buildsheets and the likely location in the car for them


Many people ask "Where can I find my build sheet in my Nova?"

The following applies mainly to the 1969-1972 Novas. Condensed from several threads on the discussed on Steve's Q&A Site or Supercar & musclecar Bulletin Board

What is a buildsheet?

There are build sheets and there are build sheets. What I mean is that the build sheet that most people find before 71-72 model year was the Fisher Body build sheets. The GM build sheets were called Broadcast Sheets. The Fisher Body build sheets were probably called broadcast sheets too. Only us enthusiasts call them build sheets.

The sheet below is a Fisher Body Build Sheet.

Fisher Body Broadcast Sheet

The small white sheet found under the seat is a Fisher Body sheet. The one in the seats was used on the Fisher Body side of the factory. This sheet was printed at the seat sub assembly area. They would pull a sheet off of the printer and build the seat according to the trim code box on the sheet. The trim tag was tucked in to the seat springs to identify the seats after they were taken to the line. They were loaded on racks according to SEQuence number. The Sequence number was a daily run order the cars were in as they set on the line. If the car was still on the line at the end of the day that was OK. The sequence numbers were big enough to allow that. The sequence number was reset each morning.

The Fisher Body line worker would have the cars running down the line. He would look at the sequence number crayoned on the body or the similar build sheet taped to the front of the firewall. He would grab the seat that matched the sequence number. Now, if the rack had all or several of the same trim type seats, the worker would not always grab the exact seat by sequence number. More than likely he just looked at the door panels and grabbed the seat the same trim type as the door panels. That is why it is common to find a Fisher Body sheet with the wrong body number.

This paper style Fisher Body sheet was replaced by the punch card style. This happened as Fisher Body was absorbed into General Motors Assembly Division in the 71-72 time frame. Build sheets used after the consolidation were a combined version of the Fisher Body and the two GM build sheets.

The sheet below is one of the two GM Broadcast Sheets used from ebay. This on is the Chassis Copy the other was the Body Copy.

GM Chassis Broadcast Sheet

The GM build sheets were called Broadcast Sheets. There were Body Broadcast Sheets and Chassis Broadcast Sheets. There are very few know copies of the GM Broadcast sheet used before the consolidation. Lanny Weatherford has one that he displays with his original car. See the May 1996 Edition of Nova Times. Tom Williams also has both copies from one of his Novas. After 1972 the Broadcast sheet changed to the black and white landscape 8.5 x 11 sheets. I have seen several of these with cars posted on ebay.

The RPO codes listed on the sheet are Only the codes that Fisher Body needed to build the body part of the car. They did not list every code the car had. It also listed the codes necessary to get the job done. If you ordered a console and a standard 3 speed. It would only list D55. If you did not have the console it would only list M20. It would not list anything that GM installed which did not need Fisher Body to prep the body. In 1970 it did not even list the engine RPO. Starting in 1970 they did not even list the Engine RPO any longer.

The gas tank was a common place to place the GM broadcast sheets on FULL FRAME cars. This was a ready place to look to see what the chassis needed before it was mounted on the body. So when the LOS plant added the Nova to the other cars they were making, they still continued to tape them to the gas tank. If you have a 71+ LOS car then look there.

Just a reminder The Nova Research Project is seeking copies of any and all broadcast sheets, shipper copies, window sticker, and POP that you find in addition to the Trim tag and VIN information. See the contact page.

Will a build sheet tell me if my car is and SS or Big Block?

The Fisher Body seat trim broadcast sheet will list the exterior trim options. The SS option did include emblems which were installed by Fisher Body. There was not much to do with the engine on the Fisher side. Especially as this Fisher Body sheet that was mainly used just to tell the guys in the soft trim shop what seat to build. The Assembly Manual (which was definitely NOT the gospel) shows the fuel lines and heater box as GMAD installs not Fisher Body. However in 1968 and 1969 the SS Engine RPO (l48, L34, and L78) was listed on the Fisher Body sheets.

However here is why I do not think the engine did not matter to Fisher Body: In 1970 they dropped the engine RPO altogether.

I have seen L48, L65, L34 and L78. So in 1969 I would expect to see L89 (if there was one) but not 230, 350, 307. The standard engine like the 307 did not even have an RPO. It was the standard, so why call it out?

The trim level could be different even on SS cars. The Fisher Body sheets called it out in addition to other trim options. This was to install the rear trim panel and SS emblem.

So, yes a Fisher Body sheet would identify a SS Car. At least until the spring of 1970 when the sheets switched to cards. But the Fisher Body sheet would only show the Engines in 1968 and 1969 model years, but only for the SS RPOs.

What about the case of the console with gauges? The manual transmission was listed on the Fisher Body sheet to instacate to cut a hole for the shifter. Unless it was to get a console. Then the console option was listed on the Fisher Body sheet. But not the gauges.

Console was listed on the fisher sheet because they had to punch the hole in the floor for the rivnuts to hold the brace. GM installed the actual console, gauges and tachs, and all that info was called out on the GM Body broadcast sheet. Different tachs (and instrument clusters) had different letters in the associated broadcast sheet box that would have identified the tachs redline, range, etc. Those tags are usually on the back of the cluster so all the line worker had to do was match up the letters called out on the sheet with the tag on the back of the cluster.

Does Fisher Body or GM have the records for my car?

Not for Novas built earlier than 1977s and earlier. Cick here to order 1977 and later Vehicle Invoices from GM here. The Fisher records were trashed when absorbed into GMAD. Remember this was a hate - hate relationship. Supposedly some of the design documents are on file with the lawyers in case they were sued. Also much of the hard GM facts were on computer tape. The records were then compressed, printed, the micro filmed - Like the GM of Canada source microfiche that condenses a whole car down to two lines of RPO codes and a few other numbers of computer type.

That is also why you can not get an exact listing of how many Red L78s with White interior with the special fluid monitor were built. GM summarized production by RPO, printed it out and reused the tapes. There was no hard drive storage as we know it today. no databases, and no thought to go back to see what a car had. It was sold and gone. Any needed information was on the POP or on the car in code. I'd almost kill to have the complete order of run tapes for Willow Run for 68-70. There wouldn't be a thing you could not know about a car with the information those tapes contained. However they were probably reused within the week.

That is why my pet project is to catalog as much as I can to statistically show the Normative Observable Practice. Basically what is normally seen on the majority of unrestored cars. Not the one - offs, but the normal practices over many Novas.

Where should I look for a build sheet?

Typically the Fisher Body sheets were attached to each seat piece. The back of the rear seat, bottom of the rear seat, and the bottom of the front seat.

The rear seats usually have the sheets wrapped around the seat frame - frequently requiring a hog ring removal or two. Sometimes they are almost completely hidden under the burlap, cotton and seat cover/frame. Don't factor out the mice either, they will put that sheet in a thousand pieces as they build a nest - although I've been able to pull pieces out of a nest and fill in some gaps.

However some seats may just not have any. The gold custom cloth gold seats in my wife's Nova did not have even a hint that one was ever there.

Bucket seats may have one in each behind the back covers.

There could have been up to four in bucket seat cars three in the bench seat cars.

My silver car had three cards. Two matched and one was from the second car ahead.

Fisher Body sheets were used by the trim guys. So the sheet could be found under or behind any of the trim pieces. I.e. behind the door panels, the carpet, the head liner, the package tray, the dash pad. Even under the tar paper floor sound deadener. The likelihood of finding this tag under the car or in the engine compartment is very slim. The very fact that they were in the interior and protected is why they have survived.

Even if you find a Fisher Body sheet, it might not even be from your car. Many seats were the same trim level. The installer new what they looked like so he did not need to check the sheet before installing them. Which means he might take the nearest standard black bench seat and install it in a Nova regardless of fact the Fisher Body sheet was for a completely different car several cars back on the line. Always check the body number to the trim tag on the cowl.

The GM broadcast sheets are hard to find because they usually ended up in the nearest trash can or on the floor. One common place for the GM seems to be taped to the dash cluster above the headlight switch. Several have been found there. Another was folded in the glove box. Probably placed there by the dealer new car prep kid. That is if he did not throw them out.

The gas tank was a common place to place the broadcast sheets on FULL FRAME cars. This was a ready place to look to see what the chassis needed before it was mounted on the body. So you will only find them on the gas tank on the Van Nuys (LOS) build Novas 1972 on.

More Nova CSI

Here are some documents that offer clues as to where else you can find information about your Nova.

Windows stickers are a whole different ball game. The codes changed more than quarterly and with every price change. And they were not any more accurate sometimes. M40 in the Assembly Manual was the TH400. Yet on the window sticker it it just signified Turbo-Hydramatic. A 6 cylinder with M40 really had a TH350 (RPO M38).

GM Zone letters. They and the dealer option and price books are great sources. But not necessarily the pocket price guides. Would tell what was available and what was not. They also told if you could get a particular option combo or not. These changed quite often as things were available or not. Like the SS wheels, they were not available for a time and then later were. I am looking for digital copies of these.

Lastly the GM service bulletins and service news also told how to fix things as well as what changes were made and sometimes with what VIN the change took effect. I have these and have plans to extract the Nova related info.