The Nova name first appeared in 1962 as the top-line model of Chevrolet’s new Falcon-buster compact, the Chevy II. Evolving into a line in its own right, by ’71 the Nova’s Super Sport (SS) package was one of the smallest muscle cars ever fielded by Detroit.
In an era when performance was on the wane, the diminutive banshee found plenty of friends among the budget drag-racing set. That strong 350cid V8 just happened to be a small-block Chevy, perfect for all those fine-tuned manifolds, carbs, headers, and distributors courtesy of a massive tuning industry. Some pundits even went so far as hailing the Nova SS as the Seventies equivalent of the ’57 Chevy. Frisky, tough, and impudent, Chevy’s giant killer could easily double the legal speed limit, and the SS was a Nova to die for. Quick and rare, only 7,016 ’71 Novas sported the magic SS badge.
Performance iron died a death in ’72, making these last-of-the-line ’71s perfect candidates for the “Chevy Muscle Hall of Fame.”
Handsome, neat, and chaste, the Nova was a new breed of passenger car for the Seventies. Advertised as the “Not Too Small Car,” it looked a lot like a scaled-down version of the Chevelle and debuted in this form in 1968 to rave reviews.
Side markerlights were forced on the Nova after federal safety legislation was passed.
The Nova’s shell would last for 11 years and was shared with Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac.
The handsome Sportmag five-spoke alloys were an $85 option.
In ’71, the option of a four-cylinder block was withdrawn on the Nova; less than one percent of ’70 Nova buyers chose a four.
Nova features included front armrests, antitheft steering-wheel-column lock, and ignition key alarm system.
The two- or four-barrel 350cid V8 ran on regular fuel and pushed out 270 ponies. At one point, Chevrolet planned to squeeze the massive 454cid V8 from the Chevelle into the Nova SS, but regrettably dropped the idea.
Amber plastic light lenses were new for ’71.
Air conditioning was an extra-cost option.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Chevrolet Nova SS (1971)
PRODUCTION 7,016 (1971)
BODY STYLE Two-door, five-seater coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Steel unitary body.
ENGINE 350cid V8.
POWER OUTPUT 245 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual, and three-speed automatic.
SUSPENSION Front: coil springs; Rear: leaf springs.
BRAKES Front discs and rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 120 mph (193 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 6.2 sec
A.F.C. 20 mpg (7 km/l)