Chevrolet Chevy II / Nova
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The Chevrolet Chevy II/Nova was a small automobile manufactured by Chevrolet, and produced in five generations for the 1962 through 1979, and 1985 through 1988 model years. Nova was the top model in the Chevy II lineup through 1968. The Chevy II nameplate was dropped, Nova becoming the nameplate for the 1969 through 1979 models. Built on the X-body platform, the Nova was replaced by the 1980 Chevrolet Citation introduced in the spring of 1979. The Nova nameplate returned in 1985, produced through 1988 as a NUMMI manufactured, subcompact based on the front wheel drive, Japan home-based Toyota Sprinter.
Chevrolet designer Clare MacKichan recalled about creating the Chevy II: "There was no time for experimentation or doodling around with new ideas from either the engineers or from us in design; And it had to be a basic-type car." The 1962 Chevy II rode a 110-inch wheelbase, compared to 109.5 for the Ford Falcon, at which Chevy's new compact was aimed. "I think that was the quickest program we ever did at any time," he continued. "We worked night and day on that car, and it didn't take very long to run it through our shop because we had a deadline." And that's what made the Chevy II one of the fastest new-car development programs in GM history – just 18 months after the designers got the green light, the first production Chevy II rolled off the Willow Run, Michigan, assembly line in August 1961, in time for its September 29 introduction. Unlike the Corvair, the 1962 Chevy II was deliberately never intended to be revolutionary in concept or execution; its mission was to give Chevrolet buyers a simple, back-to-the-basics compact car. When he announced the Chevy II to the press, Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole described the car as offering "maximum functionalism with thrift."
There was a lot of debate within the Chevrolet organization over just what to call this new car, and the decision to go with "Chevy II" was a very late one. Among the finalists was Nova. It lost out because it didn't start with a "C," but was selected as the name for the top-of-the-line series. Ultimately the Nova badge would replace Chevy II, but that wouldn't happen until 1969. In almost every way, the creators of the Chevy II used Falcon as a benchmark. The 1962 model range included sedans and wagons, as well as a two-door hardtop and a convertible, just like Falcon. The only body styles it didn't offer which the Falcon did were a sedan delivery and coupe utility (the Ford Falcon Ranchero), most likely to avoid competing with Chevrolet's own El Camino.
Second generation (1966–1967)
1966 Chevy IIs introduced an extensive sharp-edged restyle based in part on the Super Nova concept car. In general, proportions were squared up but dimensions and features changed little. Highlights included a bold grille and semi-fastback roofline. "Humped" fenders in an angular rear end were reminiscent of larger 1966 Chevrolets, though the 1966 Chevy II and Nova had vertical taillights and single headlights. The lineup again started with Chevy II 100 and Chevy II Nova 400 models.
For just $159 (equal to $1,199.27 today) more than a Nova 400, buyers could choose a Nova Super Sport. Available only in a Sport Coupe, the Nova SS was top of the line. The 194 cu in (3.18 L) inline-six was standard on the Super Sport, but any Chevy II (excluding four-cylinder) engine could be coupled with the SS. The Nova SS was visually distinguished by wide rocker panels and a bright aluminum deck lid cove. It had bright SS emblems on the grille and in the ribbed rear panel, and Super Sport script on the quarter panels. Wheel covers were inherited from the 1965 Malibu SS. Strato-bucket front seats were included, but a tachometer cost extra. The ’66 Chevy II sales brochure clearly promoted the Super Sport as the “Chevrolet Chevy II Nova Super Sport,” but the name "Nova" was not used anywhere on the body. Front and rear emblems displayed "Chevy II SS." In 1967, Chevy II was still the name of the vehicle, but the Nova SS option package replaced all Chevy II badging with Nova SS badging.
The 1967 models received nothing more than a touch-up after a restyling for 1966. All Novas got a crosshatch pattern that filled the deck lid trim panel. The Nova officially was still called the Chevy II Nova and had overtaken the bottom-rung Chevy II 100 in sales. The Chevy II 100 lacked much in the way of trim or brightwork. 1967 models carried significant improvements in the area of safety equipment. A government-mandated energy-absorbing steering column and safety steering wheel, soft interior parts such as armrests and sun visors, recessed instrument panel knobs, and front shoulder belt anchors, were included in all 1967 models.
The 1967 Chevy II and its deluxe Nova rendition continued to attract compact-car shoppers, but the Chevrolet Camaro, introduced for 1967, took away some Nova sales. Available only in hardtop coupe form, the 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS got a new black-accented anodized aluminum grille. SS wheel covers were again inherited, this time from the 1965–66 Impala SS. The 1966 "Chevy II SS" badges were replaced with "Nova SS" emblems for the '67s. Nova versions started with the 194 cu in (3.18 L)in-line six engine but new was an optional 250 cu in (4.1 L) inline-six. Further powertrain options included a 195 hp (145 kW) 283 cu in (4.64 L) V-8 and, for $93 more, a 275 hp (205 kW) 327 cu in (5.36 L) V-8. Nova SS coupes had a console-mounted shift lever with their Powerglide automatic transmission or a four-speed manual. Other models had a column-mounted gearshift. Compared to the 1966 model year output, sales of the 1967 models dropped by more than a third to 106,500 (including 12,900 station wagons). About 10,100 Nova SS Chevrolets went to customers this year, 8,200 of them with V-8 engines. In the Chevy II 100 and regular Nova series, six-cylinder engines sold far better than V-8s.
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