1965-1972 Chevrolet Nova SS


Perhaps the toughest little overachiever ever to harass the traditional muscle intermediates was Chevy’s Nova Super Sport. Never a style leader, this was the compact for the serious enthusiast, the individualist whose goal was not to wow the easily impressed, but to go fast on guile and light weight.

Nova originally was the name of the top-of-the-line Chevy II, a compact that debuted in 1962 as GM’s answer to the Ford Falcon. A boxy design on a 110-inch wheelbase, it was available with four- and six-cylinder engines.

The Chevy II had been designed from the outset for a V-8 and indeed, some hot rodders had delighted in dropping in a hot 327 Corvette engine. But not until the ’64 model year was a V-8 officially offered as a Chevy II option, and then it was the 195-horsepower, two-barrel 283. The good news was that the Chevy II’s 283 could be teamed with the M20 four-speed manual gearbox. The bad news for ’64 was that Chevy had dropped the spry Chevy II convertible and the Nova SS. The ragtop never would return, but the SS was back by mid-year, and it was about come into its own as something more than a tame little sporty compact.

In 1965, Chevrolet made the Chevy II available with its tough 327-cubic-inch V-8 and things really began to heat up. In L74 guise, the 327 four-barrel cranked out 300 horsepower. Though the SS model was its most logical home, the L74 made for a very effective Q-Ship when ordered in a dressed-down Chevy II two-door sedan. A 250-horsepower version of the 327 also was offered, as was a four-barrel, dual exhaust 220-horsepower 283. Three-speed manuals were standard with these V-8s and Powerglide was optional. But the most fun was the Muncie four-speed gearbox and Positraction differential. Worthwhile options included upgraded suspension components, sintered metallic brake linings, and a tachometer.

Available only in hardtop form, the 1964-65 Nova SS was dashing enough, but it was upstaged by the Chevelle Malibu SS 396, a bigger car that cost only about $100 more.

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out:

1966 Chevrolet Nova SS

The 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS was more masculine than the decidedly unthreatening original. The SS package was a $159 option and included Strato-bucket front seats with a console when the optional four-speed manual or Powerglide was ordered.

SS models could be had with six-cylinder engines of 120-or 140-horsepower, though the 220-horsepower four-barrel 283 was more in keeping with the car’s character. A new 275-horsepower version of the 327 with a new four-barrel carb and a revised spark advance curve replaced the previous 250-and 300-horse variants. It was capable of ETs in the low-16s.

To hard-core muscle fans, however, the real news was Chevy’s decision to offer the Chevy II with the 350-horsepower 327. This was the 11.0:1-compression L79 engine, first found in ’65 Chevelles. It would shoot the 3000-pound Chevy II through the quarter in the high 14s.

“The 350-hp 327 in approximately Corvette tune, dropped into a Chevy II, didn’t have the juke-box magic of a 409 or a 427. Still, that combination made for one of the sneakiest muscle cars ever built,” remembers Patrick Bedard, writing of his top-10 all-time muscle cars in the January 1990 issue of Car and Driver.

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out:

1968 Chevrolet Nova SS

The Chevy II car line underwent its most extensive styling change for 1968. At the same time, the Chevy II Nova SS was granted a new high-performance personality. A 350-cubic-inch four barrel was made the base engine for the ’68 Nova SS. Proven in the ’67 Camaro RS/SS, it cranked out 295 horsepower. Late in the model run Chevrolet added to the SS options list two 396s, the 350-horsepower L34 and the 375-horsepower L78. With the $500.30 solid-lifter L78 option, the giant-killer Nova SS 396 could hit 100 mph in 14 seconds.

As a reasonably priced $211 option package, the basic ’68 Nova SS offered go for the dough, but without many frills. There was no hardtop, for example, just a frumpy two-door pillared sedan with a low-key SS appearance group and fake hood air intakes. Even the E70´14 Tiger Paw tires surrounded humdrum Chevy II hubcaps. Bucket seats, console, and full instrumentation were options.

Sales went soft that year, with just 5571 Nova SS models built, including 234 L34s and 667 L78s.

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out:

1970 Chevrolet Nova SS

The 1970 Chevrolet Nova SS boasted a revised grille and taillights and three hash marks on the front fenders. Engine offerings went unchanged, but variable-ratio power steering became available.

SS output hit 19,558 units for 1970, but how many were 396s isn’t known. Worth noting is that this year’s Turbo-Jet 396 wasn’t a 396 at all, but displaced 402 cubic inches.

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out:

1971 Chevrolet Nova SS

The 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS saw even more radical changes. With the muscle era on the wane, Chevy dropped the 396 from the Nova in ’71. The surviving 350 two-barrel had 245 horses while the four-barrel offered 270. An 8.5:1 compression ratio allowed these engines to burn regular gas.

Gone along with the front-fender hash marks were many of the SS’s mechanical and chassis upgrade options. Nova SS output skidded to 7015 units. Late in the ’71 model year, Chevy brought out the Rally Nova, essentially a tarted-up SS.

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out:

1972 Chevrolet Nova SS

The Chevrolet Nova SS' final performance season was 1972. This was the year Detroit turned to net horsepower ratings, that is, engine power with all the accessories attached and running. Thus, the Nova SS with the 350 four-barrel had 200 net horsepower. That translated to 260 gross horsepower on the dynamometer.

The SS was again little changed, although the three-speed manual shift was dropped, forcing the buyer to pay extra for a four-speed manual or Turbo Hydra-Matic.

The ’72 Nova SS was still a good performer for its day. Hot Rod clocked a four-barrel 350 at 15.42 at 88.40 mph in the quarter. Nova SS production spiked to 12,309 for 1972, as the death of muscle cars from other makers sent enthusiasts to Chevy showrooms.

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out:

1965-1972 Chevrolet Nova SS Specs

Though Chevy’s Nova Super Sport was never a style leader, it was the compact for serious speed enthusiasts. Get specifications on the Nova SS model years 1965-1972:

1968 Chevrolet Nova SS
The all-new 1968 Chevrolet Nova SS had a 350-cid V-8.
This body style carried through 1972 with few changes.

Engine Type
V-8/Small Block
V-8/ Small block
Displacement (cid)
283
350
Horsepower @ rpm:
195 @ 4800
220 @ 4800
275 @ 4800 ('66-'67)
295 @ 4800
Torque (pounds/feet) @ rpm
285 @ 2400
295 @ 3200
355 @ 3200 ('66-'67)
380 @ 3200
Compression Ratio
9.25:1
10.25:1
Bore (inches)
3.87
4.00
Stroke (inches)
3.00
3.48
Valve Lifters
Hydraulic
Hydraulic
Availability
1965-67
1968


Engine Type
V-8/Small Block
V-8/ Small block
Displacement (cid)
350
327
Horsepower @ rpm:
255 @ 4800 (1969)
250 @ 4800 (1970)
300 @ 4800 (1969-70)
245 @ 4800 (1971)
270 @ 4800 (1971)
200 @ 4400 (1972)
250 @ 4400 (1965)
300 @ 5000 (1965)
350 @ 5800 (1966)***
Torque (pounds/feet) @ rpm
365 @ 3200 (1969)
345 @ 2800 (1970)
380 @ 3200 (1969-70)
350 @ 2800 (1971)
360 @ 3200 (1971)
300 @ 2800 (1972)
350 @ 2800 (1965)
360 @ 3200 (1965)
360 @ 3600 (1966)***
Compression Ratio
10.25:1/9.0:1*/8.5:1**
10.0:1/10.25:1
Bore (inches)
4.00
3.00
Stroke (inches)
3.48
3.25
Valve Lifters
Hydraulic
Hydraulic
Availability
1969-72
1965-67

*All 1969-70 with two-barrel carburetor.
**All 1971-72
***L79 option with 11.0:1 compression.

Times*:

0-60 mph (sec)
7.2
0-100 mph (sec)
18.2
1/4-mile (sec)
15.1 @ 93 mph
Top speed (mph)
N/A
Axle ratio
3.31:1
Engine type
327/360
Model year
1966

*Source: Car Life (1966)

Times*:

0-60 mph (sec)
5.8 (est)
0-100 mph (sec)
12.8 (est)
1/4-mile (sec)
13.87 @ 105.14 mph
Top speed (mph)
115 (est)
Axle ratio
3.55:1
Engine type
396/375
Model year
1969

*Source: Hot Rod (1969)

Return to Classic Muscle Cars Library.

For more information on muscle cars, check out: