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350 V8 Equipped: 1972 Chevrolet Nova

Most collector interest with the third-generation Chevy Nova is focused on the SS models, original or cloned. But the basic Nova of that era with a 350 V8 was a good little car (I owned and put over 100,000 miles on it in 11 years). This non-SS car has been pretty well baked by the sun and does runs, but is currently registered as “non-op”. The car is located in Vacaville, California and offered here on craigslist for a flat $10,000. Thanks, rex m, for the tip on this one!

Chevy introduced the compact Chevy II in 1962 to attract buyers looking for a car that was more conventional than the Corvair. Interest in the Chevy really took off with the restyle for 1968 and the Chevy II name would disappear beginning in 1969 with the promotion of the Nova. Fast forward to 1972 and sales jumped an amazing 79% even though the car was little changed over the 1971. Nearly 350,000 Nova’s rolled out of the factory in ’72, with 60% of that number being V8, 2-door coupes like the seller’s car.

This 1972 Nova is offered by its second owner and won’t be mistaken for a trailer queen. The top half of has that patina ‘thang going on, so rust may be limited to surface areas by virtue of being a California cruiser. The chrome and glass appear to be okay, but the photos provided really don’t show anything much but the bad stuff. The interior has suffered the same fate as the paint, with the bench seat having degraded to mostly foam material at this point. We have to assume the dash cover has a ton of cracks, the headliner has the droops, and we can tell already that the carpeting has got to go.

The first buyer selected the right engine/transmission combination in my book. The 350 2-barrel V8 at 165 hp SAE net, when matched with a THM350 automatic, gave the car plenty of get up and go. It also has power brakes and likely power steering. If there was factory air there, the compressor is long gone. We’re told that the odometer has just rolled over from 100,000 miles. The car runs, but the California registration is no-op, which I believe means that if the car is re-registered in California, some back fees will have to be paid by someone.

While the SS Nova commands the big bucks for 1969-72 models, Hagerty still believes the “regular” Nova is a $10,000-24,000 proposition depending on condition. The seller’s car is “fair” at best, so the $10,000 jives. More and more sellers are doing their market research before listing their wares online.


  1. Moparman Moparman Member

    It may be sunburnt, but it’s honest. I’d prefer this “patina” over faults hidden by a coat of primer. With a new interior and paint, this Nova will shine brightly again! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 10
  2. Steve R

    As mentioned, this is sunburn, not rust. A couple of hours with block and some sandpaper will get rid of most, if not all of it. The places to look at are the window channels where condensation collects, but that goes for cars that have decent looking paint too. The price is high, but interiors aren’t terribly expensive and not particularly hard for the “do it yourselfer” to do at home.

    The author mixed up the purpose of a non-op, it freezes DMV fees and allows an owner to store a car without having to pay annual registration. That is important in California which has high annual registration fees and crushing late penalties. In California, she an owner wants to start driving a car with a non-op again, they only need to pay for the current years fees.

    Steve R

    Like 5
    • Rich

      Love your optimism Steve! After having owned an identical “sunburnt” Nova, can assure you that this is not fixable even to “rough 10 foot paint” without the addition of a spray gun and paint. Been through this several times already with sunburn, too bad there is no Coppertone for old paint jobs….have a great weekend.

      Like 5
      • JoeNYWF64

        $1.48(was 96c a few months back) rattle can Home Depot flat black spray paint hides a multitude of sins & surprisingly applies quite evenly even by an amateur.

        Like 1
  3. MrF

    Had a 72 Nova in fine condition bought from original LOL owner. The 350 had great low speed torque, which disappeared as it revved, and it sure used gas. My wife commuted about 50 miles (one way) for a while and it needed a fill about every other day. I believe that being non-op means that back fees are not due; the problem is when cars are left unregistered and those fees and penalties pile up.

    Like 0
  4. Jacob Beezwax

    This was an AC equipped car the evap lines and box are still present as seen in the engine bay photo

    Like 2
  5. Milt

    I had a 72 with the 350 two barrel as a replacement for my very FIRST car. That I REALLY shouldn’t have sold her to my oldest brother I should’ve had Dad put a new fan belt on Rosie, my beloved 1965 Impala SS Hardtop, as well as fix the issue of one or more of her drum brakes swelling up to the point where they would stop the car even THOUGH I wanted to continue going home or wherever. It turns out that for want of a 2 dollar part the war was lost. My 41 year old brother bought Rosarita off of me as he had once owned a 65 Impala hardtop himself. He named his Buttercup. It was butter yellow with a black interior same 283 and Powerglide automatic but his was on the column. He really missed his Impala. Bill Mitchell for President!

    That’s how AWESOME those cars look! But enough about Rosie. Back to the Nova… it had a metallic gold paint job at the factory with a beige interior and little else. The 350 had 180 net horses under it’s hood I’m unsure of the torque figure. The only other options that it had were The Turbo Hydromatic , power steering, and and AM radio. Oh yeah, a tinted windshield as well.

    Since then, I’ve had 6 more cars the latest being a 1997 Corolla with a ZILLION miles still on the original ENGINE!!!

    Sorry for being so long-winded, but being near retirement age I wish I had the Impala SS back! Or at least the Nova.

    Like 2
  6. Mark

    I’ve owned a 68, 78 and 86 Nova.
    As much as I like the Chevy ll and Novas, I find the 68-72’s are way overpriced…….the fallout from the Malibu and Chevelles having gone the same route first.

    Like 4
  7. Achman

    Love it. Would fix the interior to a nice level, drop in a big block crate motor and 4speed and have a unique fun to drive car

    Like 2
  8. dogwater

    The price is right, fun car easy to work on looks like its all there………..

    Like 1
  9. rex m

    SOLD – new it wouldnt last, but too far from me…

    Like 0
  10. Pugsy

    No wonder it’s sold. Beautiful, rust free body.

    Like 1
  11. martinsane

    10k? Sorry but no fway.

    Like 1
  12. JC

    It’s already relisted on Las Vegas craigslist for $15000. Ridiculous.

    Like 2
  13. Pugsy

    He got a tremendous response and pulled the ad.

    Like 1
  14. John Webber

    I own this car now, super dry car and probably paid too much, but there is nothing to hide on it. The paint is still under the surface rust and I have no plans to paint it anytime soon.

    Like 1
    • Pugsy

      That’s terrific John. If it has minimal rust through, you didn’t pay too much. It’s a great looking car as is.

      Like 2
  15. rex m

    Love the patina – CONGRATULATIONS

    Like 1

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