Conventionally Attractive: 1964 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova

By Nathan Avots-Smith

I’ve been a Corvair guy for a long time, and have owned my ’65 for 14 years, so I’ve always been a little dismissive of the Chevy II—too conventional, too derivative, too basic in comparison. It served a purpose, though, and did far more to line Chevy’s coffers than the Corvair, selling much better while being cheaper to design and build, so perhaps I should look at the Chevy II much as Porsche purists view the Cayenne: without it, the Corvair wouldn’t have been able to move into a sportier market niche and try out new technologies like the turbocharger, and it was a solid entry into its own market segment. In any event, this nicely preserved ’64 Chevy II Nova two-door sedan need make no excuses for itself. It’s listed on craigslist in the Boston metro area with an asking price of $11,900. Thanks as ever to Pat L. for yet another great find!

While this Chevy II wears the fanciest Nova trim, it’s not packing the fanciest engine. Neither of the new-for-1964 engine upgrades, a 230-cubic inch six or a 283, the Chevy II’s first factory V8 option, are to be found here; instead, a 194-cubic inch six plugs away underhood. Although it’s covered just 72,000 miles, the seller opted to give the engine and drivetrain some refreshing, and it shows great. It’s said to run great, too, mated to a three-speed column shifted manual. There’s no power assist to the steering or brakes, though, just to keep the ’60s econocar flavor strong.

Also strong in ’60s flavor is this spectacular tri-tone interior. While the car is described as “100% original,” the seller cops to replacing the carpet and some other, unspecified interior bits and pieces, but no matter—it looks great in here. Original documentation, including the bill of sale from MacMulkin Chevrolet in Nashua, NH, still lives in the glovebox.

MacMulkin Chevrolet is also repping on the original dealer badge on the trunklid, one of my favorite period accessories for a car of this vintage. The paint is original, looking remarkably good, and shots of the underside have been provided, showing it, too, to be in fine fettle. Overall, this is an extremely nice Nova and undoubtedly a solid buy, although I can’t help but point out that $11,900 will also buy a heck of a lot of Corvair (or three). Still, different strokes for different folks, and if conventional is your thing, it’s hard to get more attractive than this!

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  1. RayT Member

    I remember seeing a lot of Chevy IIs in this color combo.

    But the one I remember best — and wish I owned, or had the talent to replicate — was the late, great Bill Thomas’s “Bad Bascom.” The creator of the Cheetah coupe installed a Corvette engine/4-speed manual/Sting Ray IRS combo, plus some lightweight body panels, in an unsuspecting Chevy II with, as you would expect, awesome results. It also had a fiberglass fastback roof, but I believe that was added later, as I remember it as a two-door notchback like this one, only painted bright red, with fender openings filled by giant Goodyears on American Racing mags.

    After seeing it once — at Riverside Raceway — I never felt the same about the inline-six/three-on-the-tree stockers….

  2. Steve R

    Nice car. Too bad it’s not a hardtop.

    Steve R

  3. Metoo

    I have loved Chevy II’s (and Nova’s) since I was a teen In NJ in the 60’s. A friend had one and and a bunch of would pile into it on Friday night and drive north to just over the NY state line to booze up at the many clubs that catered to us Jerseyboy idiots around Suffern. The term designated driver did not even exist. Good memories and the amazing thing is i am alive to have them.

  4. John T

    My most dearly beloved Grandmother (“Grammy”) way back when had a Nova in the same exact color (Green, AGAIN!). Hers was a 1966 4-door sedan with the bulletproof 230CID straight six and Powerglide 2-speed automatic. The car never let her down, It was incredibly reliable and economical. As for the 1964 Nova featured above, this has the drivetrain that I have been looking for and it is actually located in my home state of Massachusetts. I think that I might have to consider making an offer for this unless Scotty G has already grabbed it!

  5. Denjbar

    I would love to have this to build a real “sleeper”. Out with the six, in with a 383 stroker, a 5 speed, etc.
    Or, if I had the money I would just buy this…

    • Scot Douglas

      Nice car – but the first thing I would do if I had it would be to upgrade the chassis to handle the power! 🙂

    • Big Ed

      I agree with you Denjbar, but I’d have to pass on the “sleeper” look and put some 14″ brakes and 19″ wheels and Supercar tires on it. Maybe a rollbar, parachute, fire suppression, etc. I’d want to sleep in my bed not in a metal coffin just yet! Whew

  6. Ken Carney

    My aunt had the wagon version of this car in the late ’60’s and drove it
    into the mid ’70’s, until it was hit in the rear and totalled by a drunk
    driver. And Nathan, like the car in your article, it wasn’t the most exciting cars on the road but it never left my aunt stranded. Hers had
    tbe 230 6-cylinder engine hooked to a Powerglide tranny. I can still recall my cousins and I riding in the back seat with my aunt driving
    and my grandma riding shotgun. It was this car that hauled grandma’s
    baked goods store to store and to the state fair down in Springfield
    where she was entered in the baking compettition there. Sure would
    like to own a wagon like that. Simplicity at its finest and good looks too.

  7. Curtis

    The 327 on the stand in the garage would make this a fun little sleeper with some deeper steel wheels

  8. Trickie Dickie

    Whenever I see any mention of Chevy Nova’s I can’t help but laughing to myself again about the big linguistic faux pas that GMC and Chevrolet made when attempting to market these Nova’s to our friends in all the southern countries. Mexico and South America are mostly Spanish speaking, except Brazil. No Va in Spanish literally means……..”doesn’t go”. Our hispanic friends had a big laugh about this! I wonder if Chevy ever fixed that.

    • Mike H

      Sorry Dick, but that’s been long since debunked as an urban legend. No Spanish speaker would ever use the phrase “doesn’t go”, and while this urban legend also likes to say that the car sold poorly as a result of the name, the truth is that the Chevrolet Nova’s name didn’t significantly affect its sales: it sold well in both its primary Spanish-language markets, Mexico and Venezuela. (Its Venezuelan sales figures actually surpassed GM’s expectations.)

      Read about it here; it’s fascinating.

      • LAB3

        When that legend began it was Germany.

      • Trickie Dickie

        Thanks Mike……….so noted. Darn, the truth these days seems harder and harder to come by, eh? I will try to be more careful.

      • Miguel

        Mike, you will have to explain why the Rallye was called a Malibu in Mexico and the regular car was called Concourse. The car I show below has the name Malibu Rallye on the grille as well as on the factura which is the original bill of sale.

    • Miguel

      Speaking of that As soon as I can get to his town I am going to buy the car pictured. It is a 1978 Malibu Rallye. It is actually a Nova but they named it a Malibu here in Mexico. The car came from the factory with a 350, 4BBL, 4 speed manual and those specially made wheels. It was a factory made race car. Remember there was no engine choking smog equipment in Mexico.

      • Miguel

        One more picture

      • Miguel

        One more

      • Miguel

        And the last

  9. Big Mike

    Very nice but I think I will keep mine, I have it back on the road after sitting in a storage shed for 15 years when I discovered it. It sat in my waiting barn for about the last 6 years since I bought it for $150.00. It will more than likely be the next frame off I start sometime soon. Of course some of you out there will say bad things about it, because it is a 4 door, but I like it, it is kind of cute. Did I tell you I have drove it to work and back and it gets looks, like it is something from another planet. I have not had it over 55 mph yet, but it does only have a 6 banger in it. Oh well more pictures of it later someday after it is done. Sorry for the lousy picture something is wrong with my camera on my phone lately!!

    • Fred W.

      Nice Nova Big Mike! In addition to being a car guy, I’m an indy filmmaker and recently shot “Summer of ’67” which takes place in the Vietnam war era. No budget to rent old cars, so we asked owners at local cruise ins to help us out. A local pawn shop owner brought this Nova, very similar to yours, along with the Corvair drop top parked in front. The “Red Cross lady” in the screenshot is about to deliver the news that a characters’s husband is missing in action.

      • Miguel

        If I watch your movie, am I going to see newer cars in it, or did you make sure all the cars were right for the time frame?

        Most movies don’t really care if they have newer cars in the shot. It bugs me to no end as it is so easy to get the right cars.

        I was recently watching a movie set in 1967 I think. I am blanking on the name.

        Anyways outside of a hotel there was a 1989 Ford Country Squire taxi. They didn’t even try to hide it.

    • Miguel

      I am beginning to like 4 doors much better that the 2 door hardtops. I have a hard time in all my 2 door hardtops keeping the window fitting on the rubber and keeping the outside, well outside. 4 door sedans have channels for the windows and they work much better.

      I love station wagons so a 4 door sedan isn’t much different.

    • Carlos

      I too had a 4 door. The 194 six threw a rod so I helped my more mechanical brother swap in a 250 six. Drove it 50 or 60 thousand miles before getting a sporty new 79 Toyota pickup. Rust from the San Diego sea air began taking its toll across the back and along the side bottoms, so I sold it in 79 for $190. I miss that car and its simple reliability.

  10. gbvette62

    Years ago I had a 64 Chevelle 300 2 door post, that I inherited from an aunt. It was painted the same color, Azure Aqua, with the aqua interior. Her Chevelle also had the 194 cyl, but it was attached to a Powerglide.

    A high school buddy of mine loved those first generation Nova’s, and built 3 or 4 of them in the early 70’s. My favorite was a white with red interior 64 Nova that he’d put a crate LT-1 in, backed up by a Turbo 400 and a 12 bolt rear.

    62-63 Chevy II’s only came with a 4 or 6 cylinder engine, and 4 lug wheels, while 64-65 Nova’s were offered with a 283 and came with 5 lug wheels, making them a better start for a V8 swap. Chevrolet Parts offered a complete kit in 62 & 63, to drop a small block into the Chevy II, but no upgrade to the 4 lug wheels. The March 62 issue of Hot Rod Magazine had an article about Bill Thomas installing a Corvette 327/360 FI engine in a Nova, using the Chevrolet kit. The car did 0-60 in 5 seconds, even with the skinny 6.50×15 bias ply tires.

  11. mtshootist1

    I had a 63 Chevy II in high school in the late sixties, it was a brown four door, with the 194 six cylinder and three speed on the column, it was my grandfather’s car, specially ordered from my great uncle who was a chevy dealer in Laurence KS, it had a heavier suspension and heavy duty radiator. My grandfather used it for a ranch car to drive around and look at the cattle. He chewed Union Plug tobacco, and would spit tobacco juice out the drivers side window, didn’t help the paint at all. I was good a dirt tracking that old Chevy II, and I could out run the 283s on our “drag strip” which was two white lines on the blacktop outside town, that 194 would take off while the other guys were still spinning their wheels. Unfortunately, it met its demise in 1969, when it got hit broadside by an oil field Diamond T semi loaded with drilling equipment, who decided to pass me as I was turning in to a wheat field in southern Kansas. Good memories in that car, clearer to me today, than what I might have done last week.

  12. jdjonesdr

    I had a friend with one of these back in high school days. He lived in a house out in the country with acres and acres of woodland.

    That provided him with all kinds of trails that he would transverse much faster than was prudent.

    That Nova had one foot in the grave, but it would fire up after turning over a few times, and we’d go out and roar around those trails like madmen.

    It all ended when a tree got spooked and jumped out in front of him. My face went into the glove box, and I ended up with a chunk of a tooth knocked out.

    When his old man saw the car, that was all she wrote. we never got to go out again.

    One memory I’ll never let go.

    • Miguel

      Try that in a new car. You would have had an air bag in your face and no memory of it. Good or bad, you decide.

  13. Rustytech

    I had one of these given to me when I was 17. Slowest car I have ever driven. As much as I like originality, this car is just begging for a V8 transplant.

  14. Greg

    I’m with you Nathan, I love the more unusual cars. Although this is a beautiful example of a Chevy II, I personally like my 62 Pontiac Lemans convertible and 62 Buick Skylark convertible better. I’ve never owned a Corvair, but have always wanted one. My grandma had one when I was a kid!
    To whoever buys this car, they’re getting a beauty.

  15. Wayne

    I wound dump in a 292 with a 5 speed and drive the wheels off it!

  16. RoughDiamond

    We have all had some we let get away. One of mine was a factory ’64 Chevy II SS hardtop with a 283, Muncie 4-speed and 10 Bolt posi rear. The only non-factory items were a Hurst shifter, M/T aluminum valve covers and 14 x 6 Rally wheels. It ran like a scalded dog because it was so light. I left it parked over in my parent’s driveway and as they say out of sight out of mind. I decided to sell it and a professor at UT in Knoxville drove down with his wife and bought it on the spot. It wasn’t until after I sold it that I discovered just how rare it was.


    What a great car the Chevvy 2 was. Back in 1987 I bought a low mileage 1962 Chevvy 2 that had been standing for 17 years in a closed garage after the owner died. His widow wouldn’t sell it as it held too many memories for her, however, when she died the house passed on to her son who wanted to use the garage for his modern car so it had to go. I bought the car with a siezed hand brake so it had to be towed out backwards by breakdown truck but the moment the car faced forward the brakes came loose and it was then towed to my workshop. About an hour later I had the engine running sweetly and as the paperwork had been kept up to date for all those years I decided to take it for a quick run around the block. I was so impressed that two weeks later, and without doing any further fettling, I drove it from Durban to Johannesburg and back, about 700 miles, with no problems whatsoever. Very risky I must admit but what the H, we were stilI young and stupid in those days. I eventually sold it to a fellow club member and as far as I know he is still running it. A truly wonderful, basic American car.

  18. DweezilAZ

    My BFF had a 63 Nova SS. Beat to death. 6 & auto. He drove that thing from Los Angeles to FL and back and it was still running when it finally went to the JY. Same color as the feature car as well, with aqua interior.

    Love it for the simplicity. And wouldn’t change a thing on it.

  19. Neal

    The car in the listing is close to my Boston home and looks like a real sweet original ride.
    We JUST found this beauty at the Prep Boys parking lot visiting my folks down in Penna. automatic convertible with black interior in this popular green color.

  20. Neal

    Another view.

  21. Roger

    Dad bought one of the first year (’62) Chevy II Novas in white with trim and interior in similar color of the featured ’64 model with the 194 and 3 speed stick,while he loved the little 6 cylinder (also a new design that year) he had trouble with the front end staying in alignment and wearing out tires,finally gave up and started using recap tires on it,guess the later ones they fixed whatever the problem with it was,the 194 would deliver a fairly constant 22 mpg outside of a trip out of town to visit relatives when it did 28 mpg.Dad finally traded it in on a new International pickup in 1968.


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