Chevy II/Nova History (1962-1967)
Article by Mark Trotta
With five different body styles and three different series, the 1962 Chevy II gave consumers plenty of choices. It would be Chevrolet's second entry into the compact car market.
After a mild economic recession in 1958, interest in smaller cars began growing with American consumers. The Rambler American debuted in 1958, and the Studebaker Lark a year later. The year 1960 saw the arrival of the Ford Falcon and Plymouth Valiant.
Also making it's debut in 1960 was Chevy's rear-engine Corvair. Although clearly the most interesting, the innovative Corvair was not without it's issues.
The Ford Falcon was clearly the winner in the compact car market, having one of the most successful sales debuts in classic car history. After the Corvair was outsold by the Ford Falcon in 1960, Chevrolet began work on a more conventional compact car.
Chevy II Development
To compete with other compact cars of the day, the Chevy II was purpose-built to do just that. A conventional semi-unibody design utilized a bolt-on front section, joined to a unitized cabin and trunk rear section.
Dimensions for the Chevy II were in line with those of other compacts. Wheelbase was at 110 inches, with an overall length of 183 inches, and overall width of 70.8 inches. Interior room was enough to allow seating up to six people, with an impressive 25.5 cubic feet of trunk space.
Chevy II Engine
The standard engine for the 100/300 series was a new OHV inline four displacing 153 cubic-inches, and producing 90 horsepower. A 194 cubic-inch six cylinder, rated at 120 horsepower, was standard with the Nova 400. and optional on the 100 and 300.
Transmission choices were a base three-speed, column-shift manual, with Chevy's two-speed Power-glide automatic optional
Chevy II Suspension
The rear suspension featured a pair of five-foot-long "Mono-Plate" leaf-springs. These single-leaf springs were made of high-strength rolled steel and were mounted in rubber bushings. Aside from reducing manufacturing costs, they also reduced unsprung weight.
In the front, the Chevy II had conventional coil springs. Tubeless tires and 13-inch wheels were standard, and mounted on either 6.00" x 13" or 6.50" x 13" tires (depending on model).
Chevy II Debut
It was something of a record for GM; just 18 months after designers began putting ideas together, Chevy II's started rolling off the production line in August 1961, ready for it's September 29 introduction. Originally they were built at the Willow Run, Michigan plant, along with Corvairs. Later cars would be produced at Norwood, Ohio, Oakland, California and Framingham, Massachusetts plants.
Body Style Choices
The first of Chevrolet's long-standing X-Body line, Chevy II's were offered in five different body styles and three different series (100, 300, 400), giving consumers plenty of choices.
- 2-door coupe
- 2-door sedan
- 4-door sedan
- 2-seat station wagon
- 3-seat station wagon
Body trim packages were the base 100 Series, and optional 300 and 400 Series. A 200 Series had been introduced, but was discontinued.
1962 Engine Options
First and second year models were powered by either a base 153ci four-cylinder or optional 194ci six-cylinder.
With the six-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, a 1962 Chevy II convertible was capable of 0-60 times in just under 16 seconds. Top speed was about 98 miles-per-hour.
First Chevy Nova
Nova was chosen as the name for the higher-end 400 series, which continued until 1968. The Chevy II Nova option was available as a convertible in 1962 and 1963, and as a two-door hardtop from 1962 to 1965.
Although the hardtop was dropped when the 1964 models were introduced, it was added back to the line-up later in the model year. The Nova replaced Chevy II as the car's official name in 1969.
1962 Production Figures
First year production totaled 326,607 units. Of these, 59,741 were Nova Sport Coupe hardtops, and 23,741 were convertibles.
1963 Chevy II
The big news for 1963 was the Chevy II Nova Super Sport. Known as RPO Z03, the SS option featured special emblems, wheel covers, and side moldings. Inside was a special instrument package, bucket seats, floor shifter and deluxe steering wheel.
The SS option was only available on the 400 Series sport coupe and convertible, with the six-cylinder as standard engine. 1963 was the one and only year an SS convertible Chevy II was available.
1963 Engine Options
Engine choices were a carryover from 1962; either the base 153ci four-cylinder or 194ci straight-6 engine. A factory-installed V8 engine was not available until 1964. There were, however, dealer-installed V8 engines.
V8 Engine Swap
With a Chevy II weighing about 2,500 pounds, a small V8 under the hood gave a great power to weight ratio. Small-block Chevy V8 conversions were a fairly easy swap for dealers and enthusiasts alike.
1964 Chevy II
The Chevy II convertible was dropped for 1964, as was the three-seat station wagon. The 300-series trim level was also discontinued, leaving the 100, 400 and SS trim options.
Although Chevy originally discontinued the hardtop coupe from its 1964 lineup, it was released later in the year, now called the Sport Coupe.
1964 Engine Options
A larger, 230ci inline six (third-generation Stovebolt engine) replaced the 194ci six-cylinder. The first factory installed V8 option was the 283 small-block producing 195 horsepower.
1964 Production Figures
With the introduction of the new Chevelle in 1964, Chevy II sales suffered. Model year production totaled 191,691. By contrast, Ford sold over 300,000 Falcon models.
1965 Chevy II
For 1965, the Chevy II was revamped with a new front grille and integrated headlight bezels. Front parking lights were moved down into the bumper, and tail-lights and backup lights were restyled. Sedan models sported a new roofline.
The 1965 Nova SS was offered as a two-door sport couple only. Standard features included a brushed chrome console, vinyl bucket seats, and instrument gauges. A three-speed column mounted transmission was standard, with the Powerglide automatic transmission optional. A floor mounted 4-speed manual transmission was also optional.
1965 Engine Options
An expanded engine lineup now gave customers six choices of engines. The base 100 Series Chevy II was only available with the four-cylinder engine.
Mid 1965 brought a more potent 283 V8 with dual exhausts and 220 horsepower. V-8 choices were soon expanded to include 250- and 300- versions of Chevy's 327 V-8. Coupled with close-ratio gearing and it's already light weight, a V8 powered Chevy II challenged many muscle cars of the day.
1965 Production Figures
Out of 122,800 Chevy II's built for 1965, 9100 were Super Sports. The Chevelle Malibu SS certainly took a bite into the Nova SS market. It's likely sales were also lost to the redesigned 1965 Corvair.
Second Generation Chevy II/Nova (1966-1967)
A redesigned exterior styling included a new grille and semi-fastback roofline. Federally-mandated safety equipment included an energy-absorbing steering column.
Top of the line was the Nova SS, which featured bucket seats, wider rocker panels, bright aluminum deck lid cove, and SS emblems on the grille and ribbed rear panel. With the Nova SS package, buyers got a console-mounted shift lever with a Powerglide automatic or a four-speed manual transmission. Top engine option was a 275 horsepower 327 V8.
For 1967, there were no major changes. About 10,000 Nova SS Chevrolets were sold this year, with about 8,200 of them V-8 equipped.
Chevy II Acadian
Produced between the years 1962 and 1971, the Acadian was produced by General Motors of Canada.
The Acadian was a stand-alone make based on the Chevy II, and except for minor trim and badging, the cars were virtually the same. The Chevy II was also sold in Canada, with Pontiac-Buick dealers selling the Acadian.