April 18, 2009

Chevrolet Nova

A little history

The Nova was an upscale variant of Chevrolet’s first traditional compact car, the Chevy II, introduced after General Motors realized that the unconventional Corvair displeased a large fringe of its potential customers. Launched in 1962, the Chevy II was well-timed as the Corvair’s sales plummeted as a result of a not-fully-justified campaign against it by security-minded (and somewhat publicity-seeking) lawyer Ralph Nader, and absorbed most of the sales of its unfortunate companion, a happy development for General Motors which could have otherwise seen its customers flock to its competitors’ showrooms.

A second-generation Chevy II appeared for 1966, but retained a squarish look close to the one which graced its predecessor. In late 1968, a third-generation car was introduced for the 1969 model-year, which dropped the original “Chevy II” name in favour of the sole “Nova”. The range was also simplified, from then on concentrating on two-door coupes and four-door sedans.

One of the most desirable third-generation Novas were the Super Sport, or SS. Though this performance package had been introduced as early as 1963, the combination of a fresh, clean design and more-potent-than-ever engines made the SS an instant classic. I’ll refrain from calling the Nova SS a “muscle car” – those who know me can say why: I abhor using the “muscle car” name outside the strict intermediate class and, as the Nova is per se a compact, it doesn’t qualify as such. Whatever you call it, it is nothing more than a name anyway, and that the Nova SS was a great performance machine is what really matters. Lighter and nimbler than a genuine muscle car, the Nova SS, fitted in standard guise with a 350 (5.7-litre) V8 good for 300 bhp could really do good when its throttle was tickled.

Chevrolet knew the potential of its third-generation Nova, and built them for six straight model years until the end of 1974 – quite a long life for an American car of this era. Then a new Nova, the depressingly plain fourth-generation, was introduced. Production of the Nova was halted for good a few days short of Christmas 1978.

About the model

Model: Chevrolet Nova SS396
Year: 1970
Maker: Ertl
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Ertl, "American Muscle" series ref. 0889GD, sold as part of the set "Class of 1970" ref. 32003
Acquired: brand new, in June 2005, in Manila, Philippines

Ertl is certainly better known for its numerous 1:18 scale models rather than its 1:43s. That’s a shame, as models of American classics which are both well done and affordable are scarce in the smaller scale. This Nova SS comes as part of a three-car package which also includes a Ford Torino Cobra and an Oldsmobile 4-4-2. With a nice metallic green paint, good-looking wheels and specific badges fitted all around, the car definitely looks great. The only drawback is the windshield wipers, moulded with the windshield rather than added as separate parts. Still, not bad for a rather low price. My rating: 14/20.







Restidiecast said...

you have a very impressive line up of diecast Laurent, this Nova, is looking very great,

lorenzo721 said...

Thanks Resti. I see you really went back to the very old posts!