Chevrolet Nova (1968-1974)

1968 Chevrolet Nova

Chevrolet was gaining traction with the compact car market. In the third remake of the X-body Chevy II/Nova, Chevrolet would see the Nova reach all time sales heights. As the consumers demanded better fuel economy, General Motors would use this generation of the X-body Nova to field compacts across all makes as the Pontiac Ventura, Oldsmobile Omega, Buick Apollo and a basis for the Cadillac Seville.


1968 Chevrolet Nova and Chevy II

For the third generation 1968 redesign of the Nova, the model was given a  longer 111-inch wheelbase that was just one inch shorter than that of the popular midsize Chevrolet Chevelle coupe. The new chassis featured a separate front subframe which housed the powertrain and front suspension. The 1968 Nova was available as a pillared coupe and sedan, with fifteen powertrain choices for the coupe and a dozen powertrains for the sedans. Other options included power brakes and steering, Four-Season or Comfort-Car air conditioning, rear shoulder belts, and head restraints.

Chevrolet also transformed the Nova Super Sport from a trim option to a performance package which put the 1968 Nova SS in the muscle car mix. As one of the smallest muscle cars, the Nova SS included a 295 horsepower 350 cubic inch V8 engine along with a heavy-duty suspension and other performance hardware. Optional engines included two versions of the big-block 396 cubic inch V8 rated at 350 and 375 horsepower. Either engine was available with a choice of transmissions including the M-21 close-ratio four-speed manual, the heavy-duty M-22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed manual, or the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic.

1969 Chevrolet Nova

1969 Chevrolet Nova

Chevrolet dropped the Chevy II nameplate, leaving the Nova as the only Chevrolet compact in 1969. Other changes to the Nova were minimal. A locking steering columns was incorporated into the Nova. Simulated air extractor vents were added below the Nova script on the front fender behind the wheelwell. The 350 cubic inch V8 with four-barrel carburetor was revised with a 5 horsepower increase. A two-barrel carbureted 350 cubic inch V8 rated at 255 horsepower was a new option on non-SS models. The non-SS models offered a new Turbo-Hydramatic 350 three-speed automatic transmission.  SS models now featured standard front disc brakes.

1970 Chevrolet Nova

1970 Chevrolet Nova

The 1970 Nova was a carryover from 1969 models. Side marker and taillight lenses for the were revised. 1970 would be the final year for the Nova SS 396, which featured a 402 cubic inch engine.  While previously being the “Chevrolet Chevy Nova” the car finally became the Chevrolet Nova as the last remnant of the Chevy II was dropped.

1971 Chevrolet Nova

Chevrolet kept changes to the Nova the to a few. The changes included replacing the 396 cubic inch V8 engine with the 350 cubic inch V8 in the SS model. The 250 cubic inch six-cylinder engine became the standard engine as the 153 cubic inch four-cylinder and 230 cubic inch six-cylinder engines were dropped. Chevrolet did introduce the Rally Nova trim package. The Rally package included black or white stripes that ran the length of the car and around the back, a Rally Nova sticker on the driver’s side of the hood, Rally wheels, multi-leaf rear springs, and a “sport” body colored drivers side mirror that was adjustable from the interior.

1971 Chevrolet Nova

The big news for 1971 was General Motors decision to share the X-body Nova with Pontiac, Oldmobile and Buick. Pontiac would be the first to badge engineer the Nova, with the introduction of the 1971 Pontiac Ventura II. Oldsmobile and Buick would follow soon afterwards with the 1973 Oldsmobile Omega and the 1973 Buick Apollo. Even Cadillac would follow with a heavily reworked X-body with the 1975 Cadillac Seville.

1972 Chevrolet Nova

1972 Chevrolet Nova SS

Compacts were making a comeback and Chevrolet did not mess with the Nova formula in 1972.  The Nova received only minor trim changes. A sunroof option became available at mid-year. The Nova now offered high-back Strato bucket seats as optional equipment on coupes. With only minimal changes in the last few years, the Nova had one of its best years with production reaching 349,733.

1973 Chevrolet Nova

1973 Chevrolet Nova

The 1973 Nova saw it biggest chage in years. The Nova was now offered as a hatchback based on the 2-door coupe bodystyle. Chevrolet restyled the front and rear of the Nova to allow for the government mandated 5  mile-per-hour bumpers. The new styling included a new grille with a patterned crosshatch insert and parking lights located inboard of the headlights. A new rear side window was introduced that eliminated the vent windows on both two- and four-door models. The SS option became a trim package that included a blackout grille and Rally wheels. The SS option was available with any Nova engine.  A revised multi-leaf spring rear suspension was adapted from the Chevrolet Camaro to replace the aging mono-leaf springs used since 1962. A new Custom series joined the Nova line. Other changes included the addition of side guard door beams, additional sound insulation and flow-through ventilation systems.

1974 Chevrolet Nova

1974 Chevrolet Nova

After all the changes to the 1973 models, the Nova would receive minimal changes in 1974. The Nova received larger parking lights, new bow-tie grille emblems and modified bumpers . The three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic 350 became standard. With the OPEC oil embargo, Nova sales continued to surge. Sales approached 400,000 cars for 1974, with six-cylinder Novas counting for the majority of sales. Chevrolet introduced a ’Spirit of America’ trim package, in anticipation of the US bicentennial in 1976. The limited edition Nova Coupes were painted white and featured blue and red accent stripes as well as red and blue interior carpets and fabrics.

A new Nova would be introduced in 1975.

For information on other Chevrolets, see our post on the 1965-1970 Chevrolet Impala or the 1964-1967 Chevrolet Malibu.

For other compacts see our post on the 1963-1966 Dodge Dart or the 1960-1963 Ford Falcon.

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3 Responses to Chevrolet Nova (1968-1974)

  1. Pingback: Pontiac Ventura (1971-1974) | Stevens Virtual Automotive Museum

  2. Pingback: Buick Apollo (1973-1974) | Stevens Virtual Automotive Museum

  3. Pingback: Cadillac Seville (1975-1979) | Stevens Virtual Automotive Museum

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