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.

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