Readers Rides

Sleeper Muscle Car: The Chevrolet Nova.

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By Mark Weisseg

I love this sleeper Nova. Back in the day you never knew if it had a six cylinder with a two speed PowerGlide or a 396 with a four speed. That was the attraction back then and it’s the attraction today. Except today you have those choices plus a huge crate engine could be lurking under the hood.

The Nova was a really cool car in that you could have so many options. Bench seat, bucket seats, two speed automatic, three on the tree, or the four on the floor.
With the light weight of the car you could easily be fooled and find out the hard way the sleeper was a monster.
I like the idea of a sleeper car so much I own a Roadrunner that is a sleeper. The difference is few people fell for a slant six in a RoadRunner. Most people expected a 383, 440, or the Hemi so it was hard to hide. I bought mine solely because I liked the look.

This Nova is much different in that as mentioned before you never knew unless somehow you got close enough to see the exhaust or hear it rumble.

Reminds me of the time I was a service manager and I sent a young apprentice out to bring a Nova into the shop. What seemed like forever, the car did not appear. So, I went on a mission to find him and the car and I found them both. The young know it all was in the car and clueless how to drive it. It had the ‘three on the tree’ and he had no idea how to do it.
I guess I was dumb enough back in the day to assume everyone knew how. How wrong I was so I pulled it in with him in the passenger seat. But first we went for a short drive so I could show him the basics. He completely was at a loss as to why such a system existed. I reminded him that the cars of old were all three speeds and automatics were not the norm.

So, once we rolled in I decided to spend some time going over the car with him. Rear leaf springs and not coils. Drum brakes all the way around, a front end shake down and a suspension with hydraulic shocks. The young man was bewildered to say the least but I reminded him that the Nova had been around since the early 60’s and had been a rock solid great car. Two door, four door, square boxy style to this fast back style. So many options and yet the car was a basic, solid car.

Only in the mid 70’s did the car get fat and sluggish, as did so many other cars. Bigger bumpers, choked off engines, and the beginning of the end was near. But, if you get into this way back machine, the Nova was a fantastic car and still is today.
It’s an easy car to restore and it can be done in so many ways. The Nova gets overlooked at times in favor of the ever popular Camaro but do not be fooled. Both are great cars but a sleeper Nova to me has the edge. Like the Roadrunner, most suspect the Camaro has something under the hood that will make you look silly. Go Nova owners!

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Sleeper Muscle Car: The Chevrolet Nova., 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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