The Chevy II Nova followed the restyled Chevelle. It, too, was completely restyled in 1966, becoming what many Nova fans consider the marquee’s finest rendition. The new Nova Super Sport came in six-cylinder and mouse-motor versions, but the L79 327 was clearly the hot ticket.
With 350 hp, this monster mouse has factory hardware to rival the best of the local speed parts emporium. Big-valve heads forged high-compression pistons, and an aluminum intake with a four-barrel Holley was the foundation of this tarmac nightmare. Chrome valve covers, oil filler and cap, and dual opposing-snorkel air cleaner completed the package. In a package as light as the Nova, the rest is obvious. The L79 could run a 15-second quarter at around 95 mph. A newbie could easily hit 13s with a few tuning techniques, headers, and slicks.
The Nova Super Sport accounted for 20,986 of the 172,485 Chevy IIs sold in 1966. It was also one of the most subtle. Little distinguished the SS from its more sedate brothers, except for little insignia on the grille, rear cove, and both flanks. Unlike the Chevelle’s recognizable big-block flags, Nova’s engine insignia looked like small-block emblems featured on Caprices. Because they were so innocuous, many Nova owners enjoyed trolling for unwary passengers on their beloved cruise circuit. Once the hook was established, it took a lot of strength to get rid of the L79 Nova. With 5,481 Novas made in 1966, Chevrolet’s street dominance was only equaled by their showroom dominance.
The 1967 Nova received little cosmetic and mechanical updates. After all, why meddle with success? The main exterior difference between 1966 and 1967 was the grille, while the interior featured a new pattern on the seat covers and a contrasting color stripe centered in each seat.
Things weren’t quite as bright as they’d been the year before. According to Chevrolet manufacturing data, six 1967 Novas were built with the L79 327, which produced 325 horsepower. Six thousand five hundred M20 wide-ratio gearboxes were ordered by owners for their sporty compacts. Only two M21 four-speeds were installed under Nova’s floorboards in 1967.
The 1967 Nova had a total production of 106,430, with 10,069 Super Sport models. Most Nova Super Sports had small blocks, but 1,856 had sixes. J52 disc brakes, N34 sport steering wheel, and U15 speed warning are rare choices.
With its clean, sharp appearance and excellent performance from the L79 350 horsepower 327 incher, the first two generations of Novas were actually nice vehicles. That changed with the 1968 Nova. The 1968 Nova, with its tall hood and short rear deck, entered the hearts (and garages) of those seeking a discreet yet effective street stomper. Only SS emblems on the grille and between the back taillights indicated this wasn’t your grandmother’s shopping cart.
Those who opened their eyes to the correct selection boxes were the worst. The 1968 Nova was the first of its type to get big-block power. And you had to take the salesmen through the ordering process to get what you wanted. For starters, the big-block Nova was not on the salesman’s order forms until late in the model year. With a little patience and perseverance, and the appropriate selection codes, you could be the first on your block to own one of these boulevard burners. The Nova had only two huge blocks: the L34 350 hp and the L78 375 hp. Due to their obvious rarity, both are much sought after by Nova fans today.
Since its debut in April 1968, the L78 has done well in NHRA manual stock classes. He persuaded Chevy performance engineer Vince Piggins to install TH400 automatic transmission in L78 Novas so they could compete in the NHRA automatic classes. The NHRA required 50 cars to be constructed and sold to the public before recognizing them as stock for the automatic class. The 50 L78s with the TH400 were constructed in early July 1968 and delivered to Gibb’s Chevrolet in LaHarpe, IL by July 15.
You could have the 350, with 295 hp for 1968, if a huge engine in a little car wasn’t your thing. This ultimate sleeper is available without performance insignia! It could be purchased with any of the available transmissions, including the M22 four-speed. It was liked by 1,274 mouse motor maniacs who thought good things came in small packages.
Like Ford’s 1964 Mustang, Chevrolet’s 1967 Camaro was based on its impending intermediate makeover. It’s a common misconception that the 1968 and subsequent Novas were simply Camaros with a trunk and seating for five. From there, the Nova and Camaro would evolve in suspension and engine availability until Nova’s retirement in 1979.
The classic saying “don’t tamper with a good thing” rings true when it comes to the 1969 Nova. The new Nova looked similar to last year’s model. But the 1968 Nova was a brand-new car. The Nova Super Sport option now includes power disc brakes, and an ignition/steering column interlock was introduced as theft prevention. Except for the Corvair, the locking column was standard on all 1969 Chevrolets.
Setting the tone, the 1969 Nova Super Sport has 300 horsepower with a three-speed Turbo Hydromatic transmission. The 350 got stronger main bearing bulkheads and caps with four bolts instead of two.
The Nova SS was the ultimate Q-ship as a street sleeper. The customary muscle machine gee-gaws were glaringly absent. It was a winning mix. Especially if your Nova has the powerful L78 engine. The L78 Nova combo was quickly spread amongst the street-savvy Bow-Tie enthusiasts, and output increased year on year to 5,262. The L78 Nova tested well on the road. M14s at 101 mph were easily doable with E-70 tires and a 3.55 gear. An extra tire and headers would put the Nova in the mid to low 13s.
A “less nasty” Nova was available for those who wanted the eye-flattening torque of a big block without the effort of adjusting the solid lifters and changing plugs periodically. Although powered with the 350 horsepower 396, this one handled most stoplights with ease. Owners of the milder Nova Super Sports preferred the big-block variant, and only 1,947 of the tamer Nova Super Sports were manufactured.
Fans of the Rat-engine Nova will be saddened by 1970’s end. The Nova was the first to go to satisfy the ever-tightening insurance company and government horsepower Gestapo standards. Regardless, its final year with big-block impetus is one to remember.
The big-block was a factory option when Chevy debuted the current body form in 1968. The hot setup was the L78 396, with 375 powerful horses. The L78 Nova was no longer a well-kept secret, and each year saw it produced in greater numbers. In 1970, the hotter 396 engine outsold the less powerful 350 engine by 3,765 units to 1,802.
The L78 engine’s mechanicals remained almost unchanged, with the addition of a modest overbore and a new intake manifold. The intake was redesigned to clear decreased hood lines on previous Chevrolet vehicles. While the Nova still had plenty of hood clearance, the L78’s smog certification was completed with the new “low-rise” intake. Of course, the SS Nova’s standard engine was a 300 horsepower 350 small-block, despite its 3300-pound weight. The SS 350 Nova’s stock 15 second time was quickly surpassed by the 375-horsepower big-block variant.
A small taillight revision is arguably the most obvious indicator. The Super Sport badge remained still on the grille and rear cove, but that was it. The Nova’s understated design makes it a true sleeper, which explains its popularity among dedicated street runners. But they’d have to choose a new favorite for 1971; the big-block Nova was out. In fact, 1971 would bring several changes for the performance aficionado, none of which were good. 1970 will always be remembered as the pinnacle of Nova’s performance.
The Nova lost a lot of its performance value in 1971 when the large block was removed from the engine lineup. Big-blocks were still in the Chevelle and Camaro lineups, even in smog-laden, low-compression conditions. But tighter emissions and lower demand doomed the Rat-engine Nova, much to Deuce fans’ dismay. If you want factory-built Bow-Tie performance, search elsewhere. That’s not to say the 1971 Nova couldn’t perform.
A 1971 Nova SS powered by a Q-jet 350 could run low 15s at around 89 mph. The ET may drop to the mid-14s at speeds over 94 mph without affecting reliability or increasing compression above its regular 8.5:1 ratio. The SS could only be ordered with a wide-ratio four-speed or the Turbo 350 automatic.
The 1971 Nova, like the Camaro, was substantially identical to its predecessor. The removal of front fender louvers was perhaps the most obvious distinction. Super Sport medallions remained in the grille and rear cove, both blackened out. The absence of the SS package’s bright engine trim was further confirmation that performance was becoming less essential. While disc brakes remained standard on the SS, the vented rally wheels were available. The base wheel was 7×14-inch steel with a “babymoon” hubcap stamped with the Chevrolet Bowtie.
In 1971, the Rally Nova was added to the Nova lineup. In addition to the distinctive striping, blacked-out grille, rally wheels, and sports mirror, any engine from the rest of the Nova line could be ordered. 7700 Rally Novas were created to satisfy buyers who desired a muscle car look without the insurance issues.
Nova (Chevy II) Super Sport
Certain street runners, particularly those who like to go fast without appearing the part, have taken notice of the third generation Nova. As a result of its popularity, it was added to the Chevrolet hit parade. The restyled Nova, introduced in 1968, was an attractive package. The “new” Nova replaced the boxy lines of its predecessors with a more fluid, muscular form. Especially with big-block motivation.
But the factory-fitted big-block Nova died in 1970. However, despite its small-block power, the Nova Super Sport’s appeal lasted far into 1972. In actuality, 12309 Nova Super Sports were constructed in 1972, compared to 7015 in 1971.
The 1972 Nova SS had only one engine, but purchasers could choose between a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission. The 350 cubic inch L48 small-block engine had a single four-barrel carburetor. It had 200 hp. This was good for 15.4 quarter-mile ETs at above 88 mph. The Sky roof, a sliding fabric sunroof, was added to the Nova series mid-year. The Ventura II Folding Sunroof was fitted on 6,822 Novas in 1972. Blue , Pewter , Covert, Tan, and Green.