Former Electric Vehicle? 42k Mile 1972 Chevrolet Nova

This ’72 Chevy Nova is a two-owner car, and the first family had it for 45 years. It’s been treated to a frame-on restoration and upgraded from stock, having once spent time as an EV (electric vehicle; we don’t know the story behind that). It’s stunning and looks like a car that you could drive anywhere. Located in Denver, Colorado, the Nova is available here on craigslist for $32,000 OBO. Thanks, MattR, for bringing this car to light for us!

The third generation of the compact Nova (formerly Chevy II) would be its most successful, selling more than two million copies between 1968-74. Though little changed between 1971-72, production for ’72 was up by nearly 80% to nearly 350,000 units. The VIN on this Nova indicates it was originally built with a 307 cubic inch V8, which accounted for more than 129,000 installations that year. Somehow this car participated in an EV program, but no details are provided other than a license plate.

As the story goes, this car didn’t leave its first owners until 2017, having been stored indoors since 1976. Thus, the odometer reading is only 42,000 miles, which wouldn’t apply to the entire car since an engine replacement has taken place. Under the hood now resides a rebuilt 350 V8 from the 1973 model year, paired with a TH-350 automatic transmission, which has also been rebuilt. The fender badges have been changed from 307 to 350. A new ring and pinion set was also installed, and the gas tank looks brand-new as does the dual exhaust system.

We’re told this Chevy has received a restoration, yet the orange paint is 90% original, so that’s a bit of a disconnect for me. The car has always been rust-free, with the underbody of the car highly detailed now. The front and rear bumpers are new, and the grille has been refreshed as has the trunk. The interior looks spotless with new carpeting and orange and black houndstooth upholstery, another departure from stock, I think.

The seller says that $20,000 has been expended on shop time on this automobile, which runs and drives well. That’s enabled by a new Edelbrock Quadra-Jet carburetor and new Pertronix distributor and coil. The car looks like a sleeper with its painted wheels and dog dish hub caps, but the lightly modified 350 should hold its own against a SS 350 Nova when engaged in a traffic light stand-off.


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  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Glad to see that someone came to their senses and deleted that electric motor.

    Like 26
    • AMCFAN

      Sure, A one of a kind electric Nova which I am sure had a great story. Many companies were experimenting with electric conversions in the 1970’s and 80’s. This was one.

      Electric cars AND fuel economy are in vogue today. So much so GM changed their logo to trick you into believing they are a leader in electric technology. Only they still can’t build one. So far the recalls just for the Bolt alone total 800 Million and not over yet.

      My how fun it would be to roll up in front of the Renaissance Center in Detroit and proudly show up in an original electric Nova……..Only an idiot ripped this truly unique car apart and installed a gas guzzling V8 even though the handwriting is on the wall and made it like the endless sea of Novas you can see at any auto related event by the dozens. Pretty sad

      Like 13
      • Terrry

        No, that “idiot” did the right thing and restored this car to what it always needed to be.

        Like 32
      • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

        Only an “idiot” would have installed it in the first place!

        Like 25
      • John Bury

        I miss my gas guzzler 351 Falcon. 😢
        11mpg per Australian gallon (4.55 litres)
        When it was new it did 18 mpg.
        Funny how all those modifications I bought from the local Speed Shop made if worse. 😂 ⛽️
        But O the sound.

        Like 6
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        Yep, real smart – pull the special electric motor and throw in a 350 and turn it into a car that you can find and buy any day of the week.

        Real Smart.

        Like 4
    • Hp440

      I think its way over priced for a plain Jane 350 Nova. With the electric motor and history it would be worth that price or more.
      In the not so distant future gasoline powered cars may be regulated to museum pieces and front lawn ornaments. I can also see stringent inspections for cars xyears old coming for road worthiness and safety. They are already starting to come down on the performance after market suppliers and custom car builders.

      Like 2
  2. Howard A Member

    Grandpa, can you hear me? Look how much your Nova would be worth today,,,,sigh,,if we only could, hey?. This is a dead ringer, option wise, for my Grandpa Sam’s Nova, only his was green, natch. It was 1972. Small hubcaps, rubber mat, AM radio, for the ball games, except he had a clock. All his cars always had clocks. For what he used a car for, a 6 would have easily sufficed, but some slick salesman talked him into the 350. I remember going with him to then Holz Chevrolet, on Capitol and Fond du lac Aves. in Milwaukee to pick it up. He wasn’t used to the throttle and light rear end, and upon leaving, left a strip of rubber, much to his 17 year old grandsons delight. It was a 2 barrel, so ran out of steam quick, but a fun car to take to the, um, library. I think gramps knew we were going to McDonalds, but he didn’t mind. Naturally, I’m flabbergasted that his car, that he paid, maybe paid $2g’s for in late ’71, ( with ’65 Impala trade in) is now worth, an alleged $32GRAND! It’s just a basic, no frills ’72 Nova. I suppose therein lies the attraction. Fascinating, Captain,,,

    Like 18
    • Racer-X

      $2000 in 1971 has “official” purchasing power of $13000 today using inflationary index. Index is not realistic but keeps people content. Same $2K could have purchased 50oz gold worth $90k today.

      Like 9
      • Howard A Member

        I know about the inflation factor, but somehow it seemed easier to come up with $2 grand then than $13 grand today.

        Like 4
      • JoeNYWF64

        This car is a little more than $13K! – what avg family today could afford it?! & not only does it not have a/c, it does not have power brakes. Hopefully it has power steering.
        & that station wagon 350 can be found hanging from trees – right? Hardly special.
        Not sure if steering wheel was repainted or covered.

        I certainly can see in the future, electric motor modules that can be dropped into old cars(tho no back to future hover conversions anytime soon) – when batteries get even lighter, smaller, & more powerful – longer range.
        Imagine heaving the gas tank, trans, radiator – & no more tuneups, filter, or fluid changes – except brakes & rear end.

        Like 4
      • Steveo

        Meh. Average salary in 1972 was about $7k/year. In 2020 it was about $50 – $60k? A basic new car today is what, $20 – $25k?

        Like 5
      • Hp440

        In the 1980’s you could buy a Nova like that for 50 dollars in foodstamps.

        Like 1
    • Steve R

      Asking price does not equate to worth, only sale price does. It’s nice, but the seller is on a fishing expedition.

      Steve R

      Like 11
    • Utes

      @ Howard A…’re thinking of Hall Chevrolet. Holz Chevrolet has ALWAYS been in Hales Corners, Wisc.

      Like 2
  3. A.G.

    I have no idea of what the market is for a refurbished Nova like this. It’s much nicer than one would expect for a $20K ‘restoration.’

    I do know the EV license plate adds zero dollars. The seller’s story of stored since 1976 doesn’t align with an EV conversion done roughly 10 years later. Even with conversion and unconversion documentation the amount would remain zero dollars. It’s a nice story but unlikely to have happened.

    Like 7
  4. Terrry

    Though a nice car, good luck with that $32k price tag.

    Like 3
  5. JoeNYWF64

    Steveo, & what AFFORDABLE TWO door cars do you have to choose from today? Forget about at least 50 separate distinct options like back in the day. None rear wheel drive today. WAY too many options are std for my taste now. Same with tons of body control modules controlling everything, motorized climate control blend doors & video screens all of which i do not want to pay for.
    EVERY!! domestic usa car back then came in a 2 door – none with hard to see out of gansta glass. A bewildering # of choices – even from AMC!
    & the 3 expensive pony cars today have the same basic styling they did 15 yrs ago! & good luck trying to fit 2-3 adults in the back seat of the few 2 doors left today.
    BTW, base price of nova – $2,351 in 1972 is worth $15,281 today.

    Like 4
  6. EDDIE G

    an electric conversion 10 years later makes no sense to me sounds like a fairy tale

    Like 5

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