18k Mile Survivor: 1976 Chevrolet Nova

In its 15th consecutive year of production, the Chevy Nova was still quite popular, accounting for one-third million copies in 1976 alone. The seller’s car is your basic Nova (called the Chevy II in the 1960s) with an inline-6 motor and auto transmission. And it’s said to have less than 18,000 miles on the odometer. Located in Milton, Wisconsin, and maybe only needing a little bodywork and paint, this Chevy is available here on eBay. The bidding has reached $5,701 but the reserve has yet to be triggered.

The fifth generation of the Nova was built between 1975-79 and would be the last rear-wheel-drive iterations until the car came back in the 1980s as a FWD sub-compact. In the mid-1970s, car buyers were largely focused on economy rather than speed, so it’s not surprising that more than 87,000 Nova 2-door sedans were assembled in the bicentennial year with a 250 cubic-inch six-banger. Not as thrifty as today’s hybrids, but regularly capable of delivering fuel economy in the twenties.

For 1975, the Nova’s sheet metal was all-new, and it was a sleeker-looking car, but quickly identifiable with its lineage. The ’76 models were minimally changed, and this car came finished in blue inside and out from the factory. The paint is tired and worn now and a previous owner took some rattle can paint to a few places. There is a bit of rust on one fender and both rear wheel wells, but it doesn’t look major.

The interior presents better than the exterior, though there are a couple of small blemishes in the upholstery that should be easy to fix. The headliner, carpeting, and door panels are all sound. The trunk looks practically new with a little bit of splatter from its original finish. The engine compartment and the motor looks like it may have been repainted, or it could have only been pressure-washed because the indicated mileage is under 18,000. Some readers may contend that it’s turned over once, but the interior may be too nice for that.

Resale value for these cars barely gets of five figures, so once this Nova is refinished on the outside it might be a $10-12,000 car. Not the typical Nova SS that makes out it to the car shows, but this one would be a pleasant change of pace.


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  1. CCFisher

    I was all set to call BS on the mileage when I remembered my family’s 1978 Grand Prix, painted a similar color. GM paint quality wasn’t the best in the late 70s, particularly metallics. Our Grand Prix’s paint was tired and dull by the time it was 3 years old. Maybe this one’s legit?

    Like 5
    • wcshook

      I agree with you about the paint jobs on GM’s in the mid to late 70’s. I had a ’76 Olds Delta 88 with this shade of blue. When I rebuilt it in 1985 and had it repainted, I was told it was because of to much metallic in the color.

      • Blair Proctor

        Drove a 76 Nova two door for a short while – rear suspension was so bad it would bottom out going over a rail crossing. We had a local shop beef up the suspension, which also helped the ride/handling. It was tan in color, with tan and brown checked upholstery. Pretty basic transportation. V8 would have been more fun…

        Like 1
  2. Stan

    Probably a 2.56 rear gear.
    A buddy had a similar ride 6cyl, put 4.10 rear gear and he’d howl surprising real fast cars for the first few hundred feet off the line

    Like 2
  3. Dave

    A friend had a orange 76 with three speed manual on floor/8cyc. It was not quick. Not sure if it had the full back hatch, but that was a nice feature

  4. Motorcityman Member

    My wife’s first car in 84 was a root beer brown (I won’t say poo poo brown) 77 Nova with the 3 speed on the floor 6 banger…..rusted out BAD, but ran good!

  5. Bob C.

    My sister had a brown 1975 coupe. The interior was brown and the seats looked a lot like this car’s. Dog dish hubcaps, as plain as can be. She got broad sided at an intersection and I ended up selling her my 1975 Granada.

  6. Lance Platt

    If anyone ever wanted the blueprints for the perfect generic car all they would have to do is reverse engineer this Nova. The design has perfect proportions, a pleasing light blue exterior paint job, a matching blue interior, plenty of passenger room with little overhang and a convenient automatic transmission. The 4.1 liter engine will not offend enemies of the automobile culture that cry about gas mileage and speed but was proven in years of daily driving by GM drivers. Advertising is silent about air conditioning and power assists. The mileage claim may be hard to authenticate about 46 model years and there is some rust. But a buyer willing to take the risks of the pitfalls of vintage car reliability will be rewarded with a practical car that looks better than the remaining jelly bean and turtle back cars sold today.

    Like 1
  7. Danny

    These cars were never highly sought after, with the ability to pickup the 68 69 70 71 72 Novas. They still are passed over on the collectors market. Just do not have that muscle car reputation.

    Like 1
  8. Troy

    When I was 19 I had one with the 305 V8 I have to say it was the last dependable Chevrolet I ever owed every one since then was a money pit. If that is truly accurate mileage this will last someone a long time if they can keep the rust at bay

    Like 1
  9. joenywf64

    Not sure the reason for the separate HEI coil here – can’t a much more typical HEI distrib with the coil mounted inside it at top center fit a chevy strait 6, even on say ’68 models? Perhaps then you would have to move the cap aside to change the front spark plug(s)? No big deal.
    Is there really a NOTICEABLE difference in mpg & acceleration with HEI on a strait 6, compared to say if you put in a pts & condenser distributor with fresh points? I would think not.
    Maybe just faster starts & less maintenance.

  10. Stevieg Member

    Wisconsin car, so if not too badly rusted the miles might be accurate. The interior sure looks good!
    I would buy it & drive it if cheap enough.

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