The strength, engine power and sleek line of muscle cars have always enchanted collectors and car enthusiasts among us. Since the late 1960’s, these types of vehicles have always connoted luxury and class, until much later when more affordable models were developed. The early models and the versions that followed continue to tickle their fancy.
One classic example is the Chevrolet Nova, which appeared in many magazine spreads during the height of its popularity. It was created to rival the Ford Falcon and had a simple, sporty and conventional look. It was chosen for drag races because of its lightweight chassis. From this humble start, the Chevrolet Nova’s engine evolution was slow until the mid-1960s, when it became an official muscle car. Further down the road in 1968, it eventually transitioned from a trim vehicle to a performance driver with its heavier engines and “rock crusher” transmission, with anywhere from 295 to 375 horsepower.
The year after, sales fell by half and Chevrolet dropped the “Chevy” portion to only include “Nova” in its 1969 model. A low cost option was developed in the middle of the year called the Torque-Drive, but was only offered to 4 and 6 cylinder engines. The first to have standard front disk brakes were the 1969 SS Novas. Perhaps, in what could be considered the greatest breakthrough of the year, was the development of the Yenko Nova 427, which was manufactured with only 37 units.
There were little changes to the Nova from 1970 to 1972. In 1970, the only new modifications were new side markers and taillight lenses that were made wide and positioned differently. It was also the last year the 350ci/300 horsepower was optioned in, with only a handful produced during that year. Nova cars during this time had lower compression because they ran on unleaded fuel.
The following year, every other specification stayed the same except for simulated fender vents, which were removed altogether. A new addition to the Nova family was the Rally Nova. It featured full race stripes that were painted along the length of the car and came complete with Rally wheels and a Rally Nova sticker. In 1972, the Rally Nova became a very popular choice, with 33,310 units sold. The Rally package was also offered with Super Sport equipment, which sold over 12,000 cars. A sunroof option was made available on two-door models.
To date, browsing the web for vintage muscle cars can be very tricky, yet informative. Within the third generation Chevrolet Nova line, the most sought after would be one of the 37 units of the 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Nova. Records say that only 10 have survived from the time they were sold. Units have appeared to be auctioned at the Mecum’s Kissimee Auction and Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. Judging from their condition and rarity, the Yenko is priced anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000.
From the outlandish to the conservative, there is always a way to have your piece of this great muscle car. Some units to consider on the lower price end include the 1969 Chevy Caprice and the 1968 Chevrolet Biscayne Coupe. But really, if you’re into looks, the Nova is where it’s at!