STREETSIDE: 1977 Chevrolet Nova – Another Look At Old-School Economy

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The Nova was the solid citizen of the Chevy lineup – it was built with low tech and a keen eye on keeping the price down.

This particular Nova has been seen on SF’s streets before, and another spotting on an dusky dog walk prompted another few photos.

Related: Streetside – The BMW-Cribbing 1977 Chevrolet Nova

Just the week before, I had come upon one of the Nova’s contemporary competitors, a Dart. That one was a coupe, and while it had a racier roofline than the Nova sedan’s, it shared the same economical mission.


Note that both have a front set of rubber bumper guards, although the Dart’s protrude further to protect its trendy bowed beak.

On the Nova, the bumper guards and rub strips would cost about $265 in today’s dollars, which seems like a lot.

Related: Streetside – 1974 Dodge Dart Sport: Economical Flair


Assembly quality could most kindly be described as “inconsistent” on both this Dart and Nova, as the broken line above the Nova’s right headlight bezel attests.

Here, the hood is designed to line up with the fender, and it succeeds in doing so only on the driver’s side. In its defense, it’s a lot to ask of a long metal flank to match with a plastic fender filler.


In back, the boxy tail lights had ribbing to separate the stoplight, reverse light and reflectors.

Gotta love the V’s silly sweep in the Nova’s nameplate.


The Nova was classified as a compact – its analog today would be the Cruze – but while the Cruze’s length checks in at less than 184 inches, the Nova’s long-hooded and short-trunked lines emphasized the car’s ample 196.7-inch measurement.


This Nova has the optional dual sport mirrors, which at today’s $117  would set you back by about half of the bumper guards. Only the driver’s side mirror was controlled from inside – you’d have to use your fingers to lean over and physically move the lens on the right. Then you’d lean back and check your work and then try again.

Note how much higher today’s SUVs are compared to the Nova, which shared its platform with the low-slung Camaro.


Seats are standard vinyl, and the sliver-like headrests show the reticence carmakers had to conforming to the safety standards that began in the late-1960s.

On the other hand, the Nova’s wide-open visibility beats just about anything you could buy new today.

Related: Streetside – The Big-Bumpered 1975 Mercury Comet


The Nova’s long-on-engine proportions are the opposite of what you’d find in a 2016 compact sedan, and that’s part of the appeal of piloting an old-school ride like this one. In certain ways, yesterday’s economy cars have attributes for which you’d have to spend a lot today.


But for those who can’t or won’t drive an old Nova, check BestRide for a new Cruze – here’s a search to get you started.

Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of old-school economy?