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A Nova Alternative? 1973 Oldsmobile Omega

Remember this breakdown from years past:

  • Nova
  • Omega
  • Ventura
  • Apollo

Yup, it’s GM’s X-body line-up from the ’70s. Chevrolet got into the act first, in the early ’60s, with the Chevy II and its upscale Nova model. The additional models added include the Oldsmobile Omega (’73), Pontiac Ventura (’71), and Buick Apollo (’73). Combining their model names created an acronym that spelled the original model. Planned, or just by chance? I don’t know but I do know that Oldsmobile’s Omega (’73-’79) doesn’t grace our Barn Finds pages often. Today’s find, a first-year, two-door coupe is in pretty nice condition and presents well, so let’s see what this Nova alternative was all about. It’s located in Hoschton, Georgia and is available, here on eBay for a current, no reserve bid of $6,199 with 32 bids tendered so far.

Actually, the Omega continued on after ’79 as a front-wheel driver X-body compact with production of the nameplate ending in ’84. First-year Omega output spread across two-door coupes and hatchbacks, as well as a four-door sedan, and reached a volume of about 60K copies.

The finish, vinyl top, chrome, and trim present perfectly on this half-century-old Omega. The seller notes, “Body has very light surface rust at bottom of rear panel and one side of trunk” – maybe so but it’s not evident in any of the included images. This Olds is a big bumper car, thanks to the federal five-MPH standard that was adopted for the front end of all ’73 models, but this coupe wears them pretty well – they’re obvious but not obnoxious. Cragar S/S wheels are performing a stately job of holding up this Omega’s four corners.

I found the engine choices for the ’73 Omega to be surprising. The standard was a cantankerous, but highly reliable, 100 net HP, 250 CI, in-line Chevrolet six with one upgrade allowed, a 180 net HP 350 CI Oldsmobile V8, fed by a four-barrel carburetor. Our subject car, fortunately, possesses the latter. But wait, there’s more…the seller adds, “Motor Rocket 350 V8 has been completely rebuilt to high performance by Engine Services in Braselton, GA with cam, pistons, heads, Offenhauser intake and headers. Aluminum radiator with dual fans. Vacuum pump and MSD ignition module. Edelbrock Carb“. Claimed to have only experienced 300 miles since the complete redo, the seller states, “runs strong“. Also of note is a rebuilt Turbo-Hydramatic 350 automatic transmission and front drum brakes that have been converted to disc – a positive move!

The interior is surprisingly clean though basically austere. There’s a neat Olds four-spoke steering wheel in place and added engine gauges to the dashboard’s underside but that’s about it for sporting intentions. The upholstery looks like a cloth and vinyl combination and it appears to be free of runs, rips, or wear. As is so often the case, the backseat looks untouched by human behinds.

The seller claims 53K original miles – maybe that’s true and maybe not, there’s no backing documentation, but does it really matter? This Olds has had enough mechanical modifications performed that the mileage becomes immaterial. If you’re looking for something interesting, and not the usual Camaro, Mustang, or Chevelle, etc. so forth and so on, this Omega could be a pretty neat alternative, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. Zen

    Nice looking car, but I wonder why the engine and transmission needed rebuilding after only 50k miles? Was the owner bored and wanted more power? I hope they kept the original parts. A 350 w/ factory A/C is nice in one of those, and most of these rotted away.

    Like 15
  2. sparkster

    1973 Oldsmobile may have a Oldsmobile 350 not a chevy 350. Poor pictures , hard to tell if the A/C compressor is still attached to the engine.

    Like 6
    • Tony Primo

      That is an Oldsmobile 350 in the picture. Notice the oil fill tube on the front of the engine.

      Like 19
      • Lance Platt

        I like it. The Omega and GM corporate cousins were the perfect size in an era of gigantic standard size and stretched wheelbase luxury cars and subcompact imports. People forget the reliable Corolla was way smaller than now in 1973 and had half the power. Love the light blue exterior and contrasting white vinyl top. I hope the air conditioning works. The disc brake upgrade was a great choice. Valuation is hard without the mileage provenance and the rebuilds, some rust fixing and plain interior but it would make a wonderful fair weather daily driver and a great car show entrant. If my time machine worked, I would want a car like this when new.

        Like 8
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      It’s absolutely an Oldsmobile engine. As I wrote, “a 180 net HP 350 CI Oldsmobile V8, fed by a four-barrel carburetor”.


      Like 17
  3. Scotty B

    I was always a Buick Pontiac Olds fan. The 350 olds motor was a good unit. Seems like a nice car especially if you want to be a bit different from the crowd. It’s a nice color combo with the crager wheels a perfect jump in and go cruiser. By the write up on it ; it should boogie down the road just fine.

    Like 9
  4. Treetop

    Like you say, about the same as a Nova, but Nova worth more just because of the name Nova.

    Like 4
    • S

      The irony is that an Oldsmobile is supposed to be the nicer, more expensive car, compared to a Chevrolet. But now, as classics, the Chevys sell fro more money than an equivalent Oldsmobile.

      Like 7
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Let the rest of them spend their money on a No-Va. I’ll take this Olds every time.

      Like 9
  5. chrlsful

    had the poncho, whatever the yrs w/a hatch ina great green (sorta emerald). Over powered. The hatch was great. As far as “different”? not very much, lill grill change, just nother gm ta me.

    Like 1
  6. Brett Michels

    I don’t understand why people cover their license plates in pictures. Do they not know that when they are driving down the street, it is visible to everyone? :)

    Like 7
    • That AMC guy

      Perhaps so, but the plate is only visible where the car is at the time, not around the country and around the world.

      Like 6
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      Registration numbers are public records. To get the owner’s name and address, go down to the DMV in the state the car is registered in, fill out a form with the plate number on it, pay a fee, and get the owners name and address! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Some people don’t want the entire inter web to have their personal information, so they black out the plate state and number in the sale pictures!

      Like 7
  7. Nelson C

    The N.O.V.A platform was clever of GM. One wonders where it came from. Ventura and Apollo was a given for sure but Omega? I guess it must have been last to the meeting.

    Neighbors bought one at the end of the year 1973. Light copper (orange) with the white hounds tooth cloth interior. Looked just like the illustration in the brochure. 6-cyl-automatic with manual steering and brakes. Their daughter used to complain about having to steer it around the parking lot.

    Like 0
  8. Don

    What does…. “completely rebuilt to high performance?” mean, exactly?

    Like 2
    • JT

      I’m guessing besides replacing whatever was worn out that everything was upgraded past factory specs(with aftermarket parts, etc) for more power.

      Like 0
  9. Kenith McIntosh

    It is a 1974 year or later model…Not a 1973…The Large rear (5 mph) bumper did not make its appearance until 1974…The big bumper on the front (5 mph) was federally mandated in 1973…With the rear bumper mandated in 1974…Although the car is equipped with an Oldsmobile engine…

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Nope, the VIN is 3827K3W104702 with the sixth digit “3” indicating 1973.


      Like 7
    • bone

      the 73s had large bumpers too, they just didnt have the bumper shocks in the rear, just the big reinforcement behind the bumper

      Like 0
  10. The Omega Man

    I had a 73 Olds Omega and loved it. I drove it in high school and college. Mine was equipped with the Rocket 350 and bucket seats with floor mounted automatic. Fast car and fun to drive. I surprised many of the late 70’s and early 80’s Camaros and Firebirds.

    Like 2
  11. Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    Nice survivor car. This one looks to be in above average original condition, body wise, so maybe a quick cut and buff might be enough to bring back the paint in lieu of a full repaint. Except for the front clip pieces, parts are easy to find, so repairs, if any, shouldn’t be a problem. From a styling perspective, the Poncho version was probably my favorite, with the Nova and Buick versions close behind, but they all look far better than the Maverick/Comet twins from Ford, and handled better to boot, although since all of these were entry-level compact economy cars, that’s a low bar to meet. Almost all of the non-Chevy versions have gone to the crusher, simply because they were produced in far lower numbers than the Nova.

    My only concern would be the presence of rust under the vinyl roof, which would be difficult and expensive to repair. I wish it has the bucket seats and console, but that’s asking a lot for cars in this price class.

    Like 1
  12. C Force

    Sounds like some real high peformance goodies under the hood.a vacuum pump?must have a fairly radical cam to have that,maybe a stall converter as well.This car is great,it is somewhat off the beaten path instead of a Ventura or a Nova.These and the Buick Apollo you rarely see

    Like 0

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