While it started off as an economical compact car in the 1960s, the Chevy II Nova rolled off the production line in 1962 and instantly became a favorite. Chevrolet started working on the concept two years previously, which means it was one of the first vehicles to get designed and launched so quickly.
There were initially three series, five styles, and two engine styles available (the four- and six-cylinder), which gave consumers a variety of options. It became a significant contender in the compact vehicle market and brought Chevy back from the brink when they had lost much of their compact-car share to Ford in 1959.
Once Chevrolet got that initial foothold into the compact-car market, they rolled out the SS (Super Sport) version just a year later in 1963. It still had the classic six-cylinder engine, which is considered small for a muscle car nowadays; by today’s standards, it didn’t do much in the performance department. Back then, though, it was a respectably sized engine that revved the car-buying consumers into a frenzy.
While Chevy did offer an SS convertible, it was only produced in 1963; it was discontinued just a year later. Therefore, these are one of the most-sought-after classic Novas today and are rare to find.
The Chevy II Nova got its first V8 engine option in 1964 and could put out 195 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque. Of course, today’s muscle-car enthusiasts aren’t likely to be impressed, but keep in mind that the classic V8 Nova only weighed 2,500 pounds while similarly sized vehicles now weight in at about 2,800 pounds. Therefore, the lighter weight but high torque gives it the power it needs to propel, though it doesn’t do so ostentatiously.
The Chevy Nova got many face-lifts throughout the years, such as the ability to replace engine styles. The Chevy II prefix was officially removed in 1961. Just known as the Nova, it went from a mild-mannered vehicle to a stylish muscle scar. The Big Block engine fad helped it switch gears, but the trend only lasted from 1969 to 1971. Engine size and power started fading shortly thereafter, which led to the Nova’s demise. In 1978, the last Nova was produced, and most people weren’t sad for it to go as the new emissions and fuel regulations required by the government caused it to lose much of its power, in essence, killing this beautiful beast.