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8,523 Mile 1972 Chevrolet Nova SS Barn Find!

This 1972 Chevrolet Nova SS has only 8,523 miles showing on its odometer. How this has happened is a story of tragedy, but we can hope that someone will have the opportunity to add a happy postscript to this tale. If you think you could be that person, you will find the Nova located in Pompano Beach, Florida, and listed for sale here on Facebook. A car like this will come at a price, and in this case, it is $49,998.

The original owner of the Placer Gold SS purchased the vehicle in November of 1971. He drove his pride and joy regularly until September of 1972. It was then that tragedy struck. He was involved in a motorcycle accident, and he did not survive. His heartbroken parents decided to park the Nova in their barn, and that’s where it remained for nearly 48-years. It has only recently emerged, and its condition is incredible. You would have to think that the barn must have been a nice one when you look at the car’s overall condition. There are a few minor flaws in the paint, but none of these would require immediate attention. The Black vinyl top is nicely preserved, and I can’t spot any bubbles that might indicate that nasty surprises are lurking beneath. The panels are as straight as you might expect for a classic with less than 9,000 miles under its belt. The big question is always going to revolve around rust, which makes me believe that the barn’s environment must have been close to ideal. The simple answer here is that there is no rust. There are spots of surface corrosion on some suspension components, and in a few spots where the paint has come away from the panels, but the floors and frame are in as-new condition. The same is true of all of the lower body extremities, with the rockers, rear quarter panels, and lower fenders appearing to be spotless. I’m not surprised to find that the same story continues with the trim, the chrome, and the glass.

I believe that the Nova’s original owner might have been shopping on a budget but was keen to extract the best “bang for his buck” from his purchase. To this end, we find an SS that is equipped with a 350ci V8 engine, a 4-speed manual transmission, power steering, and power front disc brakes. That would have given him 200hp to play with and would have meant that the Nova was capable of demolishing the ¼ mile in 15.5 seconds. The Nova is a numbers-matching vehicle, but it goes without saying that after it had been sitting for 48-years, the SS was going to need some work if it was to be returned to a roadworthy state. The engine has received a rebuild, but many of the original components removed during this process have been retained and are included in the sale. This includes the belts, hoses, water pump, fuel pump, the original wheels, and the original Firestone Wide Oval Tires. It looks like a new master cylinder has been fitted, along with a new exhaust. The seller doesn’t indicate how well the Nova runs and drives, but you would have to think that it would be fine in that department with such low mileage. Included in the sale is a collection of documentation that consists of the Owner’s Manual, Sales Invoice, Protection Plate, and the Build Sheet.

Given this car’s history, it is no surprise to find the interior presenting as well as it does. The paint on the dash might have deteriorated around the glove compartment area, but it is hard to be completely certain of that. The rest of it looks as good as it did the day that it rolled out of the showroom. The upholstered surfaces and the headliner appear to be perfect, while there are no issues with the dash or pad beyond the previously mentioned possible paint flaw. The interior is unmolested, and the original AM radio is still in place in the dash. When it comes to luxury appointments, that radio is about all there is. The owner chose to avoid luxuries like air conditioning and carpets, with the Nova featuring its original rubber floor mats. This interior reinforces my belief that the original owner might have been on a budget and was trying to gain the maximum level of performance from his car for the money that he had available to him. He could have chosen a less powerful engine to gain a few creature comforts, but he chose to go the other way.

This 1972 Nova SS is an extraordinary find, but like so many things in life, its positive attributes have come at a very high price. Nobody would wish the sort of experience that these people have had upon anyone. If they had chosen to leave the Nova in the barn forever, that is a decision that I would completely understand. We see our share of classic cars here at Barn Finds deserving of preservation because of their rarity. This Nova is totally different, and preserving it would seem to be a fitting tribute to its original owner. All that I would do to this car if I were to buy it would be to treat the few corrosion spots on the body and then apply some clear to those areas so that they can’t deteriorate any further. I wouldn’t touch anything else because it doesn’t need anything but an owner to cherish it as much as the original owner did. That seems to be a fitting postscript to this story.


  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    A very nice, desirable Nova but $49k? It looks really good overall but I’d want to know why the motor was rebuilt with less than 9,000 miles on it. I think the price is pretty steep, after all, it’s not a big block car but as I’ve said many times here…………What do I know!

    Like 38
    • Steve R

      There are collectors only interested in ultra low mileage muscle cars, they will value this car differently than the average enthusiast. It’s a completely different market that isn’t interested in restored cars or newer “limited edition” cars such as pace car corvettes and Buick GN’s which were destined to be low mileage collectors devices from day one.

      Steve R

      Like 22
    • Chris M.

      After sitting for nearly 50 years there’s a very good chance the motor locked up. If not for regular intervals of starting or simply turning over it should come as no surprise that it froze.

      Like 10
    • Kahuna

      Hi ford guy… my brother had a new 68 chevy ii nova ss in 68. His 350 had to be rebuilt after only a few months and not many miles too. Too much street racing! Probably the same situation here. Anyway, just saying, it wan’t that unusual back in the day to have a rebuilt or factory warrantee replacement engine in the first short while of ownership.

      Like 1
      • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

        Good point, Kahuna. Maybe the first owner flogged the hell out of his new Nova and cooked the motor or, as Chris M pointed out, the car sat for 50 years and the motor froze up. Gotta admit though, it’s a beauty.

        Like 2
  2. Al_Bundy Member

    Agreed the price is a heck of a reach and then some. Will follow for the sake of how/if it sells. Seen crazier things… Great story that many of us can relate to. My parents first brand new car was a 1973 Nova. 2 door, red with black vinyl top, manual sunroof and a 350 2bbl. Had the 350 emblem above the front marker lamp. Minor restyle of tail lights/headlamps for the big bumpers vs, the ’72. Remember my dad telling me It died an early death because of burnt exhaust valves. Mufflers would rust out every couple years which led to businesses like Midas and “Muffler King” mainly specializing in rusted exhaust. Dad said poor quality mufflers killed my favorite car as a kid. MIDASIZE IT !!!

    Like 5
  3. Troy s

    This car was a good base for solid street machine, had the owner survived there’s no doubt in my mind this SS Nova would’ve looked a little different in a few more years. Especially under the hood, with all the aftermarket brands well represented. Even as a ten year old used car the transformation from stock speeder to Main street menace would have been automatic.
    Nice car here with strong sentimental ties, it’s not going to be cheap.

    Like 4
  4. Marc

    Amazing find! The only thing I see a problem with is the price being a bit steep…

    Like 6
  5. KKW

    I remember when everybody’s grandmother, including mine, had one of these. Exceptional condition no doubt, but it’s a lot of money for a 4spd and bucket seats, because aside from that, it’s just another Nova.
    R.I.P. to the original owner.

    Like 14
    • JMB#7

      Good point, you remember when…. But remember now, how many are left that look as nice and original as this one? The price is whatever the seller feels like asking. Also, it is no longer on Facebook Marketplace, so I have a feeling that they were offered close enough to asking price that it has now been sold. My Dad bought a ’72 Nova new, and after about 3 Ohio winters it was showing rust. I sold it in 1987 and significant pieces of sheet metal had already been reconstructed in the rear half by that point in time.

      Like 1
  6. Tony Primo

    Growing up my folks had a condominium in Pompano Beach. It is right on the boarder with Ft. Lauderdale. I would definitely check how deep that surface corrosion is. This town is right on the Atlantic Ocean.

    Like 5
  7. Turbo

    Call me crazy but I actually like the color on this one.

    Like 1
  8. KC John Member

    Is that the right steering wheel?

    Like 6
    • Phil B.

      No. Looks like it’s out of a late 70s Camaro.

      Like 5
      • Steve R

        That’s steering wheel was available in 1971 as option number NK4.

        Steve R

        Like 12
  9. 1-MAC

    Well. you can pay 40K for a Toyota or but this basically new 72 Nova. It depends on what you want. It is probably a little overpriced but 9k miles is less than a one year old car.

    Like 6
  10. RJ

    Curiously the original owner’s mother predeceased him by over a decade and his father passed two years after him. So who kept it in the barn for 48 years? A stepmother? Perhaps his brother who passed away in 2016? Who put the later model steering wheel on it and why?

    Like 8
  11. Jeff

    The ghost of John Gotti went to Florida and replaced the steering wheel because one of his goomba’s got blood on it when they took Luca Brasi out for a swim with the fish after the Godfather movie was re-released in 1980.
    I swear on my ex wife’s life the Nova has only 8.5K miles!

    Like 7
  12. jerry z

    I don’t even see the car on there website? Scam?

    Like 2
  13. Chris Webster

    I thought the SS models had dummy louvres behind the front wheel arch.

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie

      I’m pretty sure those phony louvers behind the front wheel did not designate the car being an SS. It was a styling cue that didn’t carry forward, I don’t know what year they stopped using them. I owned a ’69 Nova 2 dr. , not an SS, that had those louvers. With a bit of black paint for the grille and a few SS badges and the phony hood vents I made mine into an SS.

      Like 6
      • Paul R.

        RE: the Louvres, I have an original Nova Brochure from 1970 and the louvres show up on non SS models as well. Must haver been an option for any model.
        I had a 1971 Nova, 307/200 h.p. buckets, 3 speed Muncie manual floor shift, positraction . Ordered .from the factory, all in $3400.Cdn.
        You sure can see the power decline in these years, in 1970 the 350 developed 300. h.p.

        Like 2
  14. bikefixr

    Nice car. But for $49K? Seriously? I can get a DAMN nice ’70 SS 375/396hp for that or less. Guess which one people will give a damn about in 10,20 years.

    Like 2
  15. Mark

    I had a 71 Camaro and also a 72 Nova that both had that wheel on it.. I believe it a was an option as someone else had said…

    Like 2
  16. bone

    Nice looking car, but the seats look to have been reupholstered . I believe they were more pleated . Not sure about the rims either ; my silver 70 came from the factory with dog dish caps , but had black rims

    Like 1
  17. shanahan

    Not sure about 1972 but I know the ’69 manual shifts all had smog pumps. I don’t see one on this engine.

    Like 2
  18. JoeNYWF64

    Should there not be an air pump on that motor in ’72?
    Should not the floor mat & kick panels be a darker color shade?

    Like 0
  19. Tom Nemec Member

    A few comments. Nice car but as I have been saying for more than a year, the market is changing and it is NOT changing for the better…..it is a buyers market and it is going to continue to improve in that manner. The people who cared about these cars and had the money to buy and restore them or put away the nice ones are literally dying off and the families “don’t care about the cars like Dad or Grandpa did”. Collections are going to the auction and selling for what they bring. It is causing the #2 & #3 cars to become less attractive thus dropping their price. Full blown restorations are $80-100K+ for a car that is worth MAYBE half of what you put into it. Just facts.

    The market is flooded with cars and buyers are “dying off”.

    I am not on Facebook (the hole into your soul !) so I can’t view better pictures. That clutch pedal looks (maybe I am wrong) to be quite worn for such low mileage. Just a thought. I also don’t think the engine and its components look like 8500 miles either.

    On another hand, you could not buy and restore one to this level for $50K.

    Totally agree with the coastal rust potential problem, check that out for sure.

    I agree with the comment of the Big Block 4 speed car, in a better color, restored could probably be bought these days in a strong #2 or better (1.5) condition for 40K or less. In 30 years when these cars are 80 years old and need restorative maintenance/help….good luck finding parts or people who know how to “rebuild a carb”. Kids today who will be 50 years old then won’t have the interest you and I do now….generally speaking. If the Dem’s get a hold of things there won’t be an gasoline to run em !!!

    Like 3
  20. Kevin G.

    The first car i ever bought was a 72 ss nova with similar options. I hate to say it but this car is far from origional. Steering wheel is wrong, wheels are wrong as well as hub caps and mine which also had 350 v8 believe it or not had a chrome air cleaner lid from the factory. Too many things incorrect for this to bring the money they are asking.

    Like 0
  21. Sam Wolfe

    I have a 1972 SS from new: The steering wheel is correct as an option,hood louvers on all 72 SS’s correct, tail pipes are wrong location 72’s had out below the rear bumper, all 72 SS’s had chrome air cleaner lid. This car has the standard bucket seat interior not common most had the custom,also no carpet is not that common never have seen one on a SS. In 72 only California cars had smog pumps. Hub caps are wrong should be the baby moon with bow tie logo. Master cylinder is correct but it does not have the bleeder screws on the master cylinder. at that money would like to see information on the engine rebuild. other than that great but cost is high and color ?

    Like 0

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