1962 CHEVY NOVA ORIGIN
There has always been some confusion about the name of Chevrolet’s compact car. Launched in 1962 to do battle with Ford’s new Falcon compact, Chevy engineers weren’t given the luxury or the time to experiment. They had to come up with a good basic car quickly. And they did. They set a GM record by bringing the car from green light to production in just 18 months. While the Chevy Corvair was revolutionary, the Chevy II was designed to be a solid, familiar, conventional car that appealed to the mainstream. It turned out to be a very competent car in its compact class.
1962 CHEVY NOVA MODEL LINEUP
Officially known as the Chevy II, it came in 4 body styles, 2-door Sedan, 2-door Hardtop, 4-door Sedan, Convertible and 4-door Station Wagon; and 3 trim levels, the base 100 Series, the middling 300 Series, and the top-of-the-line 400 Series Nova.
NOVA OR CHEVY II, WHAT’S IN A NAME?
There has always been some confusion about the name of the Nova. What is the right thing to call it? The premium 400 Series Nova edition quickly became known simply as the Nova, and denoted the top-line edition Chevy II in every year following until the Chevy II name was dropped at the end of 1968, after which they all became known as Novas. But prior to that, people began referring to all Chevy IIs as Novas and the line blurred. All Super Sport (SS) versions are built on the 400 Series Nova, so all SS’s are Novas. So, what to call your car? If it’s a ’69 or later, call it a Nova, no matter what. Prior to that, it will depend upon the trim level of your particular car, and from 1962 through 1968, only the top-of-the-line 400 Series are truly Novas. The name Nova was considered before the 1961 launch, but rejected because it didn’t begin with a “C”. Chevy II was selected, but Nova was the name given to the top Chevy II.
1962 CHEVY NOVA DESIGN
The Chevy II/Nova is built on a semi-unibody design, with a unibody main body (passenger cabin and trunk section) and a bolt-on front subframe. This allowed some isolation of noise, vibration and harshness emanating from the engine or front end, from reaching the occupants, while still affording most of the benefits of unibody construction. It rode on a 110-inch wheelbase (to the Falcon’s 109.5”). In many other dimensions, as well as conceptual and design cues, Chevy benchmarked the Falcon in designing the Chevy II/Nova.
1962 CHEVY NOVA ENGINES
Having been designed as an ‘economy car’, the Chevy II/Nova lineup received a set of appropriate economy car engines. The standard engine was the 153 cubic inch (2.5 liter) OHV 4-cylinder. The top line engine at launch was the 194 cu in (3.2 liter) 6 cylinder. V8s were not an option at first, not even in the Nova. But dealers started installing 283s and even 327s in Chevy IIs and Novas as dealer-options. Even fuel-injected 327s got crammed between the fenders of Chevy IIs, which thanks to their lightweight, created wicked drag cars. It didn’t take Chevy long to realize it was missing the boat by not offering V8s as a factory option.