When the “new” Chevy Nova appeared, the first thing you noticed about it was the line. It wasn’t your basic rolling breadbox anymore. Instead, the lines were curvy and, although the automaker still relied on a single front headlamp, the bright-edged eggcrate between the lights angled out every so slightly.
From there, the curved lined of the fenders carried a mid-level beltline through the front fenders and doors and on through the slightly curved rear quarters and sail panel. The hood, which had a slight lip, was a single-smooth casting that sloped somewhat toward the windshield.
New Curving Roofline
The item you notice almost immediately 1970 Chevy Nova was its curving roofline that moved through the backlight and rear deck to finish up in a single panel that contained two oblong taillights. It was quite a change from the earlier rolling breadbox known as the Chevy II Nova (The automaker dropped the Chevy II moniker in with 1968.)
Earlier Novas, though, popular were really just built as studies in square. The blunt front end was nicely integrated into the straight fenders and the lines carried right through the rear quarters and read deck into the tail. The changes that were first shown when the 1960 Nova debuted and which were then further refined, made the 1970 Nova a whole new vehicle and when you think about it, the chassis was pretty much the same underneath. It’s interesting what a couple of stampings can do, isn’t it. Those stampings gave the Nova a new personality.
Available as a couple or sedan, the entry level powerplant was a four – a 90-horse, 153-cubic-inch engine. You could opt for Chevy’s standard 250-cubic-inch L6 six-cylinder (a very nice and underrated six that was a sweetheart of a powerplant).
Four- and Six-Cylinder Versions Available
No one, who was anyone, though, would let their Nova remain with a four or six so many were sod with a 200-horsepower 307-cubic-inch version of the small block V8. It was a nice engine that was linked to the rear wheels via either Chevy’s three-speed Turbo-hydramatic automatic.
This was nothing, though, compared to two SS versions of the Nova that wore the badges SS350 and SS396. Both were offered with floor-mounted four-speed manuals. The SS350, at 350-cubic-inches, cranked out roughly 300-horsepower while the SS396 turned over 350 04 375 horsepower, depending on the tuning.
Interestingly, the item that set the SS396 apart from the rest of the Nova crowed was its hood intakes (non-working) and its blacked-out grille and rear panel. It also ran on special seven-inch tires so it had good contact with the road.
The 1970 Nova was a popular vehicle with 254,242 built and interestingly roughly 20,000 to 30,000 were built with the SS350/396 badge.
It was a surprisingly popular whose 350 (even by 1973) was still a formidable engine when mated to the Turbo-hydramatic automatic at a cost that wasn’t outrageous (1970 Novas cost about $2,400, on average and by 1973, the cost was still only in the upper $2,000 range).