The Chevrolet Division introduced the third-generation Chevy Nova in 1968 on a longer wheelbase that’s just one inch shorter than the mid-sized Chevelle. The car also got a major face lift and dropped the wagon and the hard-top Sport coupe from the lineup as well as the moniker Chevy II. The car was now officially the Chevy Nova.
Hidden changes were big. Chevy radically revised the suspension and sub-frame and, although unique to the Nova, it was somewhat similar to the mid-size GM models with the front suspension part of the body shell. The Chevy Division claims the Nova has 15 power train options and a dozen body variations. The other options included A/C, rear shoulder straps, rear headrests, power steering, and power brakes.
The 1968 Nova Super Sport was now a power option and not just a trim package. The SS had the 350-cubic-inch (5.7L) V8 producing 295hp (220 kW) which also included heavy-duty suspension and other high-performance goodies. The power options for the SS were two variations of a big-block 396-cubic-inch (6.5L) engine with one producing 350hp (260 kW) and the other putting out 375hp (280 kW). The transmission options were an M-21 four-speed manual or the M-22 manual four-speed, but if you didn’t like to shift, you had the Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed.
Nobody seemed to notice that the 1969 Nova no longer offered the four-cylinder engine. Although it was still available, it was only by special request. The most popular engines in ’69 were the 250 six, the 283 replacement was the base 307-cubic-inch (5.03L) V8. If you decided you wanted the 350 option, it now came with a four-barrel as basic and the two-barrel as an option. The only automatic available for the largest engines was the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic, while the smaller power plants had the option of the two-speed Powerglide automatic.
In the middle of ’69, Chevrolet introduced a semi-automatic called the Torque-drive for clutchless shifting but only for the six-cylinder engine. The badge on the back was no longer Chevy II by Chevrolet; it now read Nova by Chevrolet with the grille badge showing the Chevrolet bow-tie logo. Other changes included the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic as an option for the smaller engines. GM introduced the locking steering column as standard equipment on all GM products in 1969; with the Nova also got simulated air vents on the rear quarter panels.
The 1970 Nova became simply the Chevrolet Nova, but it was almost the same as ’69 although if you look closely, the side marker lights are a little larger and slightly repositioned. The 396 grew into a 402, and it was the last year it was available with the four-cylinder engine also being deleted at the end of ‘70. That year, the Trans Am racing team’ choice was the Nova.
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