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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1974 Chevrolet Nova

The 1974 Chevrolet Nova was the 12th most popular selling car in 1974 with 22,283 units delivered to Canadians during the calendar year.
When General Motors of Canada introduced its rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair for the 1960 season its creators were surprised that it failed to take sales away from the imported Volkswagen Beetle or the even the homegrown Rambler. 

Built in Oshawa, Ontario, the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair was designed to compete directly against the Renault Dauphine and the VW Beetle.

Disappointed division honchos hurried to bring a more conventional car to market. The Nova name first appeared in Chevrolet lineup in 1962 as the name of the top-of-the-line model in the new senior compact series Chevrolet Chevy II. For good measure, Pontiac-Buick dealers were given a Canada-only badge engineered Acadian that shared the new Chevy II body.

The 1962 Chevrolet Chevy II was introduced to make sure GM had a popular domestic nameplate in the compact segment of the market.

By the 1968 model year all Chevy IIs carried the Nova name and a year later the Chevy II emblem was retired altogether. The car was not particularly popular with consumers. With 8,915 sales It ranked 27th in the 1968 calendar year behind GM’s captive import Vauxhall, well behind Plymouth Valiant and GM’s homegrown Beaumont built on the Chevrolet Chevelle body. 

The 1968 Acadian shared its shell with the Nova but was sold through GM Canada's Pontiac-Buick dealer body. Ironically, the Canada-only brand was built in Willow Run, Michigan.
Nova sales rose to 12,289 units delivered in 1969 to give it the 22nd spot. Because of AutoPact, GM Canada dropped the popular Beaumont at the end of the 1969 selling season and that, in part, helped Nova to capture 18th spot in 1970, even though actual sales were off to 12,064 units.

The 1971 Chevrolet Vega turned heads and stole sales from the Nova.
In 1971 the GM spotlight shone brightly on the new Chevrolet Vega. No doubt that helped to steal sales from the compact Nova, which finished in 25th place with 10,925 units. There is no question that compact cars were popular; sales figures show that Nova didn’t share in that popularity. The public bypassed the bowtie for Toyota, the second best selling car in the country, Datsun skidded into the lot at Number Four and Volkswagen parked at the Number Five spot. The Plymouth Valiant took 7th and its Dodge Dart kin held the Number Nine spot. 

The 1972 Toyota family.
The figures for 1972 place Nova at 18,727 units, moving it up to the 16th place. It was still a small car world for Canadians. That year Toyota stole the Number One spot from the full-sized Chevrolet. Datsun moved into the Number Three position, the Plymouth Valiant took the five spot and VW landed in the sixth spot. Inching upward to the 15th spot in 1973, the Nova reached 22,493 units. 

The 1974 Chevrolet Nova Custom four-door sedan weighed in at 1529 kilos (3,371 pounds) with the 5.7-litre (350 cubic-inch) V-8 engine.
Virtually unchanged for 1974, Nova returned for its 13th season. That sameness was the Chev’s virtue this year. Advertising was blunt. “Experience is the best teacher. And if you know your Novas, you know we’ve been building essentially the same car since 1968. We think we’ve got it down pat.”

The most trouble free car in its class, there was little to add. “This year we’ve given nova an improved bumper system, front and rear, to help cushion minor impacts. There are some new colours, new carpets new trim. And for the first time ever, you can order steel-belted radial ply tires for your new Nova.” 

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Nova was powered by the Turbo-Thrift 4-litre (250 cubic-inch) six-cylinder mill. It generated 100 horsepower and was mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Turbo Hydramatic transmission was optional. The Turbo-Fire 5.7-litre (350 cubic-inch) V-8 with a two-barrel carb gave the driver 145 horses while the four-barrel version cranked that right up to 160 horsepower.

Nova Customs came with “a touch of sportiness.” There were black impact strips on front and rear bumpers, deep cut-pile carpeting and extra insulation. Special nameplates let one know you had paid extra for the fancy stuff. There was a four-door sedan and a hatchback coupe, with .77 cubic metres (27.3 cubic feet) of space on a nice flat, carpeted floor.

The 1974 Chevrolet Nova SS was a mean little pocket rocket.
The Custom SS stood apart with a blacked out grille with bold SS badges throughout, some serious striping fore and aft, rally wheels, special centre caps and bright lug nuts. The car came with beefy suspension, a remote control mirror on the driver’s side and an ordinary on the passenger side.

Interior of the 1974 Chevrolet Nova could be upgraded with bucket seats and a centre console.

Cabins were dressed up in black or blue cloth and vinyl upholstery or black or neutral all-vinyl upholstery. Of course there were cloth and vinyl combos in black with trim or green with black trim. Strato-Bucket seats could be ordered in black and white sport cloth for the coupes and hatchbacks. For those who preferred, black, green or neutral vinyl covering was available. The bucket seats were a natural with the extra cost sporty centre console.
 Like Nova itself, the instrument panel was the epitome of good taste and ergonomics.

One was hard pressed to tell the difference between the Standard Nova and the Custom. There were fewer trim extras and upholstery choices were less fancy. The base Nova was no nonsense, for sure.

An Interior Décor/Quiet Sound Group added lights and insulation. A new feature was the seat and shoulder belt that was interlocked with the ignition. The car would not start unless buckled. Drivers hated the feature.

Colours offered were Antique White, Bright Blue Metallic, midnight Blue Metallic, Aqua Bleu Metallic, Lime Yellow, Bright Green Metallic, medium Dark Green metallic, cream Beige, Bright Yellow, Light Gold Metallic, sandstone, Golden Brown Metallic, Bronze Metallic, Silver Metallic, medium Red Metallic and Medium Red. Now, one could order two-tone variants with Antique White over Midnight Blue Metallic, Aqua Blue metallic, medium dark Green metallic, Light Gold Metallic, Bronze Metallic and Medium Red Metallic.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Nova might not have been the most flashy car on the Number One Highway but the list of options was as long as the drive from Moose Jaw to Winnipeg. Well, it seems like that. Chev wasn’t shy to shovel out the extra-cost goodies. 

One of the most unusual options available for the 1974 Chevrolet Nova was this Hatchback Hutch for camping.
There were vinyl roof treatments in ten different colours. Soft-Ray tinted windows and Four-Season air conditioning made for a more comfortable ride. The ComforTilt Steering Wheel with six-way adjustment, power disc or drum brakes, an AM or AM/FM push button radio and power steering made driving more pleasant. The Turbo Hydra-matic transmission eliminated shifting. There was Positraction, a forced-air rear window defogger, electric clock, power mirrors, sport mirrors, deluxe seat and shoulder belts. One could dress up the car with wheel trim rings. More room could be had in the trunk with a Space-Saver spare. For cold weather and hauling needs, there was the heavy-duty battery and rad. A trailer hitch, trailer wiring harness and trailer mirrors were useful, too.

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2006
All rights reserved.


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Graham Clayton said...

Interesting to see the "Hatchback Hutch" option.
The Holden Torana in Australia around the same time had a similar option:

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