Next time you’re cruising around Adelaide, Australia, possibly on Seaview Road near Henley Beach, keep your eyes open for a very pretty, red 1965 Chevy II Nova SS. If you spot the car, be sure to say “g’day” to Alf. If he has the time, he may show you around his pride and joy. This car sports its original California plates, as first installed, in the dealer frames supplied by Hovey-Dallas Chevrolet. He imported the muscle car in 2008.
Alf has taken great pains to keep the ’65 Chevrolet Nova SS as close to original showroom condition as possible. Alf’s Nova is powered by a 283 mated to a two-speed PowerGlide transmission. The car is complete down to the near-perfect interior and even has the original owner’s manual in the glove box with the VIN plate still attached.
Alf acquired this gem with its pedigree included. The Nova SS had two very old original owners, and Alf is the third. The car was repainted, no thanks to some paint damage by unruly birds while in storage for 15 years. Alf also took the high road by flushing, then recoating the gas tank. He replaced the complete brake system, as well. The only variations from factory spec are the dual exhaust Flowmaster mufflers that make a slight increase in power and a better sound on acceleration, plus a new set of mags. Alf even removed the dealer-installed air conditioning to keep the car as it was from the factory, which he may regret during the summer.
Chevrolet introduced the Chevy II for the 1962 model year with the mandate of “maximum functionalism with thrift,” according to then-Chevrolet general manager Ed Cole. The Chevy II was designed to compete with the Ford Falcon, the top seller in the American small car market. The Chevy II it took top prize for sales that year over the revolutionary Chevy Corvair, which was the only other car Chevrolet had in this category.
Chevy designer, Clare MacKichenhad this to say about the development process: “no time for experimenting or doodling around with new ideas. We had deadlines to meet. This was possibly the quickest program ever to go from the exec offices to the showrooms.” The Chevy II progressed from the drawing board to the street in just 18 months.
The Chevy II is a basic compact car of conventional design (engine in front with rear-wheel drive) that went from the drawing board to production quickly with the designers and engineers working 24/7 to complete the new project. It reached the Willow Run, Michigan assembly line in August 1961 for its September 29 release into dealerships. The new Chevy II rode on a 110-inch wheelbase, a bit longer than the Falcon’s 109.5 inches.
Choosing the name for the new compact, first-generation Chevrolet was an issue. In the end, Chevrolet chose the moniker Chevy II because of the “C” at the beginning of the word to keep in line with other Chevrolet products. One of the proposed names that was not chosen was “Nova,” which Chevy ended up using as the name for the luxury version of the Chevy II. In the 1969 model year, Chevrolet dropped the Chevy II badge, and Nova finally became the nameplate and not a luxurious variation of the compact model.
Chevy designers had their eyes on the Falcon. With the ’62 model came the choice of many power combinations and a full range of body styles. A two-door hardtop, a convertible and a full range of sedans and station wagons were available from the start. 23,741 Chevy IIs were produced the first year, but the top of the line is the Nova 400 Chevy II, which sold in ’62 for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $2,475.
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