CHEVY NOVA – THE COMPACT MUSCLE CAR
When Ford launched their compact Falcon in 1960, they tapped into a market for small cars that had yet been unrealized. Chevrolet took a full 2 model years to respond, but when they did, they really hit the nail on the head. Chevy’s new small car was the 1962 Chevy II, benchmarked by its designers against the Falcon, and a slightly bigger, better car by almost every measure, as the result. Available in a sedan, a wagon, a hardtop and a convertible they also offered a wide range of engines, options and trim levels. Nova was the name given to the premium trim level. The SS or Super Sport performance option package appeared in 1963, always on top of a top-line Nova, and only in Hardtop or Convertible form. At this point in time, 1963, Chevy’s entire passenger car lineup consisted of the Corvette (a sports car), the Impala (a full-size car), the Corvair (in a category all to itself), and the Chevy II/Nova. For a great many Chevy buyers, it was the only clear choice. But the arrival of the midsize Chevelle in 1964 took a big bite out of Nova sales.
CHEVY NOVA THROUGH THE GENERATIONS
The Nova went through 3 generations that matter to us Muscle Car enthusiasts. The first ran from 1962 through the 1965 model year. The Nova SS began with the ’63 model year. The second-generation was just 2 model years long. It was a sharp-edged, squarish design that was slightly bigger than before. The 3rd-gen came along in 1968, and like the rest of GMs cars, took on a more aerodynamic, rounded, modern look. By the end of the 3rd-generation in 1974, the entire market had changed so dramatically, that the next generation (1975 through 1979) had moved more toward the ‘personal luxury’-side and away from any muscle car intentions.