1973 Chevy Nova: Numbers Matching SS

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The Nova is one of those car I used to see on the roads pretty frequently in my youth. They were just used cars at that point, but clearly still useful well after their original purchase date. Then, they just vanished – I didn’t see them in grocery store parking lots or in neighbors’ driveways. That’s why this 1973 Chevy Nova SS here on eBay caught my eye, which is a numbers-matching project with a freshly rebuilt engine. 

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This is a well-equipped example, with lots of desirable options from the factory. This includes the posi rear end, dash-mount tachometer, power discs, and center console with gauge package. However, it’s clear the seats will need to be recovered and I can’t get a clear idea on what shape the carpets are in. The seller does allude to rust issues in the quarters, so the extent of that damage may factor in to whether this is a worthwhile project.

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As mentioned earlier, the Nova has its original center console and gauge package intact, which could indicate that this SS at least remained with owners that didn’t hack it up into a drag strip beater. I always interpret the presence of original bits like this as a positive, as often times when cars enter into project status, resource-strapped owners will sell off the good bits for some quick cash.

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The seller has already had the engine professionally rebuilt, with receipts showing over $2,600 invested in the original mill. The transmission is said to shift well, and the seller is including several aftermarket extras like a Flowmaster exhaust and Headman Headers, but all the original bits are still with the car. Bidding is active and the reserve is unmet; what do you think this project Nova SS will sell for?

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Comments

  1. Joe

    73 SS Nova with 350/175 hp? To my mind only an SS in name, too late.

    Like 1
  2. ydnar

    Yes, but being a true SS, the sky is the limit, and it will always be a desired car.

    I’d say another possible cheap entry vehicle. I give it two thumbs up.

    Like 2
  3. GeeBee

    In 1978, I knew a guy that had one of these. Black on red, factory 4 speed, cammed up 350 with a high rise and 780 Holley. Cragar SS wheels, and immaculately kept. He wanted a new Trans Am, and said I could have the Nova for $3500. At the time, that was such an unobtainable fortune….

    Like 2
  4. Bob's your uncle

    My aunt had one like that she had bought new so I had to look to see if it was nearby. It is not so probably not her old car. I remember it had a factory tag on the console that identified the engine and HP. I thought that was sort of different; it was some coded engine like an LT or LS or ?

    • Blyndgesser

      Probably an L48. Same 350 as the base engine in the Corvette.

  5. JW

    If rust issues aren’t too bad I agree it could be a decent entry level car for a young person to learn about cars and have some fun at the same time.

  6. Rando

    THat big front bumper just kills the beauty of that generation of Nova. Yeah the HP ratings seem lower and they were. Net HP instead of gross. And smog stuff being tacked on that choked off the true potential. Heads that couldn’t breathe. And so on. But these were everywhere “back in the day”. I miss those days. So rare to see cool cars from our youth being driven anymore. But that’s what makes them collectible now.

    • Joe

      A change in how the HP is measured would show up as a shift from one specific year to the next, say from 1971 (gross measure) to 1972 (net measure). However, the decrease occurs over more than just these 2 years. HP goes down from 1970 to 1971 (30 hp) and from 1972 to 1973 (another 25) using same measurement method for each paired year. You could also look at performance measures from 70-73 and find slower 0-60 and quarter mile times. By 1973-74 the SS badge had become a trim package and no longer represented a performance upgrade. Quarter mile times below are from different sources but represent the best time for that year for stock SS 350 L48 4V 4 speed (i.e. Motor trend, Car Craft etc)

      1970 350 L48 4V Gross 300hp 14.90 sec
      1971 350 L48 4V Gross 270hp 15.92 sec
      1972 350 L48 4V Net 200hp 15.47 sec
      1973 350 L48 4V Net 175hp 17.4 sec

      • ydnar

        Nice to have that info laid out like that. One thing, you can always put back what was taken out, and then some. SBC’s are the easiest as well.

  7. JW454

    The interior is toast but otherwise, this little buggy isn’t too bad. Considering the rebuilt engine, I’d be a buyer up to 55 hundred or so. After that, I think you’d be underwater pretty quickly.

  8. Frankie Paige

    Seeing the rebuilt engine sitting there I wonder why the seller didn’t spend a little more time installing it?

    • Jim

      or at least give it a bath, oh wait I know cause it’s a barn find and he wanted to maintain the original patina,

  9. AMC STEVE

    I always thought they were ugly entry level cars, but my buddy had a souped up lime green one that was the fastest car around.
    Light weight and ugly but it hauled ass

  10. ydnar

    I think this is a “flipper find”. Wanting to “earn” money w/o any effort.

    • JCW

      Ydnar is what if it is a flip? The guy found it most likely had to dig it out and pick it up all time consuming. A lot of times these cars would not be on the market they would just rot away. I have no problem with a flipper as long as he was fair when buying and not ripping uninformed people off. If he was fair no difference than a non flipper getting “a deal”. Something is worth what it is worth no matter what you paid for it.

      • ydnar

        My only point being that some if not most, flippers just want to turn a quick buck, having absolutely no idea what they are selling, and do not care either.
        This is supposed to be a hobby, greed turned it into a profession, and it is ruining the hobby, as has been mentioned here by many folks here, many times.

  11. Gary I

    Novas are hot again. 1973 Nova SS cars have been hitting up to thirty grand lately, and there is no reason this couldn’t be restored to factory condition and be worth that kind of money. It might take a twenty thousand $ restoration to get it there, but with paperwork they have solid value. I disliked these as a kid because everyone had one. My mom drove a 1975 SS that was blue with white stripes and everyone passed it off as a whatever car at the time. I wish they still went for $1,500 bucks for drivers like they used to. I planned on getting one someday as I have grown to like them, but I haven’t seen a solid car needing a full resto for less than seven grand and finished non SS cars go $16,000 and up. Maybe someday!

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    I had ’74 Hatchback with a strait six 250. Great car. Oddly enough I bought it in 1980 for a mere $400. That seems so unbelievably cheap, even for 1980. I drove it 2 years and sold it for $600. I guess that makes me a flipper.

  13. Ceezy

    I passed at the chance to get one of these as my first car, it was white on white with a freshly rebuilt 350. All it needed was some paint and a little bit of work on the interior. Instead I got a 1988 Chrysler Lebaron turbo that blew the motor after 6 months. Still kicking myself at that missed opportunity.

  14. erikj

    well I kind of like it. Up to 1971 I reallyliked them.O 72 ,whenever they stayed with small bumpers. One cool thing I like a lot is the guage package. the tach was small in the dash,but at least it added something to the rather plain dash. I love that cnsole t passes your way and you nevernsole with the gauges I saw the same console in a very nice 1976 that an older guy brought he bought it new and it was a 4spd also rallys and that nice dark green outside with green int. one of those nice cars you see and never forget that was around 1983 ish.

  15. Doug Towsley

    Uggh, I hated the 73-74s, They just killed the style. I had a 72 rallye Nova I paid $300 for in 1981. Did all the usual hot rod stuff during that era. At the time I didnt care for them but I do kinda admire the mid to late 70s Novas as a good hot rod platform and okay body styling. Hard to find but still turn up once in a while but 68-72s are pretty rare sights these days. I loved them. Would have sought out another one some years back, tried to talk the wife into it but she had her heart set on a 69 Chevelle like her High school days and fair enough, she has put up with my BS.
    The only thing worse than these 73s were the Hatch backs, sorry, but that just killed it for me. But today,, These make a GREAT midsize muscle car, cheap and super easy to work on, great parts availibility and very easy to update the drivetrain, suspensions and brakes. I Also had a 63 and 64 SS Novas, The handling on the 68 and up Novas was a huge improvement over the early cars handling. This should make a nice project for someone. Up in Idaho are some excellent donor cars. Dry and hardly any humidity.

  16. MountainMan

    The big bumpers really take away from the looks. I have always liked Novas, the earlier ones look better but this is still a good looking car. The SS package adds lots of desirability and value to these. I too remember when a nice driver could be had for $1500. Those days are long gone. I hope this goes to somebody who will drive it and enjoy it. Trailers are for boats!

  17. Jason Houston

    May I introduce another overworked jungle term like “all original” and “patina”? Ready?

    It’s “numbers match”. This term started out as an elite term to describe a Corvette that had never been molested and was, truly, ‘all original’. Once accepted, it morphed onto Impalas, then Chevelles, then late 60’s Mopars, and now anything that has a VIN.

    Today, it just about describes everything – including all those thousands of cars that no one would ever have the desire to molest with used engines, transmissions, etc.; well-meaning but naïve folks who can’t resist saying “numbers match”, even when talking abut the VIN and the title on something as benign as a 1968 Falcon.

    Like 1
    • Joe

      Jason, interesting history on the use of these words. “COPO” is another, as we saw with that 427 Impala the other day. I agree that “matching numbers” has been extended to describe all sorts of cars (what matchboxes next?). But I don’t see it as a problem to use the term as one of many ways to value a car. To my perhaps naive mind, a 68 Falcon born with its drive train is worth more than another one equal in all other ways that has a replacement. The market has defined matching numbers as more valuable (strange how NCRA has moved around with how it judges restamped blocks).

  18. Steve

    I owned a 1973 Nova SS. They weren’t high performance cars, but they were nice cars and the only SS I ever owned. The federal requirements sucked the life out of those engines in the early ’70’s. This could be a great restoration for someone.

  19. racer99

    Bought one of these with a Corvette motor for $400 in the mid-90’s (from a grocery store parking lot ironically enough). Used it as a Spectator Racer at the local dirt track. Won a bunch of races and sold it off to someone else who converted it into a dirt track bomber car. Great fun but a good story why there aren’t many of these left roaming the earth.

  20. JW

    I have no problem with flipping cars as long as the flipper is asking a reasonable price for what your getting. I flipped cars back in the 90’s but I bought cars tat were work cars for people without a lot of money. I bought cars that needed a replacement trans or engine or brakes then did the work in my spare time and cleaned them up and just sold them for the price of the car / parts needed to repair them along with a reasonable profit for my work. It made for a shop learning experience for my son’s who helped and shared in the profits. There are some who just plain abuse a good thing like a lot of things in life but you have to sniff them out. Never had a person complain or return a vehicle I sold.

    • ydnar

      Very commendable JW, and that’s not flipping. That is providing a much needed service for folks in need. My hat is off to you.

    • Doug Towsley

      Now THAT is a nice job. Smart move. (some might disagree) but i am thinking you can buy a 74 for less than the more attractive 68-72 body style and rework it and have something really nice. Not easy to find these at all, so good use of materials in my book. Thats a very nice looking car in that listing. I bookmarked it just to see what it brings. This motivates me to get my wifes Chevelle project on the road. Thanks for posting.

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