Green Machine: 1974 Chevrolet Nova

Here’s a driver with a little 1970’s hot rod flavor. Some college boy would have called it his green machine. It’s got the stance with those Craiger style wheels and the ladder bars showing just a bit of menace. In today’s world of low profile tires, tubbed rear wheel wells, 4 link suspension and a trunk full of speakers this is nostalgia sitting high and proud. That 350 crate motor is tame by today’s standards but was just the ride for stoplight mayhem back in the day, yessiree! The meat would have been 70 series “wide oval” belted bias ply tires good for 10,000 miles at best. A four-speed would have been nice, but the Turbo 350 with a B&M shifter was good through the lights and it let you drive with your arm around your girl, snuggled up close on that bench seat. $11,500 is a lot of money to pay for nostalgia for this Nova listed on eBay, but if I was in Guthrie Center, Iowa, I’d sure love to have a look and listen, or perhaps even a drive.

It was so nice, back in the day, to be able to have your girl sitting close on comfy bench seats like this. The upholstery needs a little help, but otherwise, this plain interior is just what you’d expect in this “go fast” machine. The little bits of red are a nice touch.

Here’s the 350 the seller describes as a “Crate Motor”. The letter “K” in the vehicle ID number shows this to have come with a 350 with a 4 barrel carburetor.

The dirt side looks pretty good with no signs of rust and oil.

This Nova is from the end of the muscle car era. The basic trim or “strippy” 2 door combined with a big motor and loud paint was the formula for an all go, no show car. It’s hard to imagine why a fellow in his late 70s would own such a car, but perhaps he just wanted a basic car and the V8 and loud paint didn’t matter. This Nova appears to be a survivor with some hot rod touches. The paint is likely a respray but much of this Nova is original. This is a good starting point for creating a custom car with the usual modern updates. I’d fix the upholstery, add AC and leave it just as it is, possibly even leaving on those big exhaust tips.

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Comments

  1. Chuck Cobb

    Wheels are original GM

    • Anthony in RI

      Yup. Camaro Z-28 wheels

      • SAM61

        Just don’t lose a trim ring. I remember a gap between the bead of the rim and the “fake” Crager stamping where the trim ring was inset.

  2. crazyhawk

    Those wheels look like they belong. I like the look, and the color is kind of refreshingly different. Neat little package.

  3. Patrick S newport pagnell Staff

    Cragar (sp)

  4. Old Steel

    Love that Color 444 medium green. My first car in high school was a 1974 Chevelle with the 250 6cyl that color. Couldn’t kill that car. I do miss her…

  5. Superdessucke

    As everyone is pointing out, those wheels are GM – 1970- 74 Z28 or 1971- 72 Chevelle/El Camino SS.

    Even more cool and makes it even more vintage cuz that’s what a lot of kids did then. They’d go to a junkyard or trade with a buddy for better looking OEM parts that would fit. High school kids were too poor for brand new Cragars, lol!

    This reminds me a lot of a 1974 Nova SS a friend of mine had. His was gold with the original black stripes and he put late 1960s/early 1970s Chevy rally wheels and wide white letter tires on it. It looked awesome.

    • Bob

      Those wheels also OEM on 75 and later RS Camaro’s with the lower stiffer Z/86 Gymkhana suspension package and then on the 77 and later Z/28’s.

      • Superdessucke

        You, sir, win the obscure Camaro option award for the day. The Z86 Gymkhana suspension package had these rims. It was available for 1 year – 1975 – and was available on the RS and Type LT models. 3,711 were made.

        A kid at our high school (same parking lot as the Nova SS hehe) had a dark brown Type LT with these rims. It was a 1974-77 so it’s possible it was an original Z86. But there’s no way to be sure as he could have added the wheels later. I thought it looked cool and purposeful without the spoiler and the lowered stance and wide white letter tires

  6. Big Mike

    John a buddy from High School had one of these same color and all, we always called it the Mellow Yellow, because John was always so so Mellow. LOL

  7. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    This Nova looks just right as is. I might replace the seats with some from a similar era Camaro and then leave it be and drive it. Are people taking the ugly 5 mph bumpers off cars like this and replacing with earlier cars’ demure ones? The MG guys have been doing it for years.

  8. edh

    Add AC? This car is so cool you won’t need AC.

  9. Metoo

    2 door, so that’s good. But needs to be repainted a less God awful color

  10. John Newell

    Back then, no one would have called it a green Machine because car guys knew they would have been referring to a green Rebel Machine. AMC was not well thought of then due to industrial sabotage by the Bigger Three in the performance magazines so no one would have “insulted” a car like this Nova by calling it another term for a Rambler.

    Nowadays of course, the stigma has long since faded and anyone with a green Rebel Machine is pretty happy to have such a great car. But since they’re so rare, even car guys here don’t pick up on nomenclature like they used to.

    One of my friends owned a red 350 Nova and won his class every time he raced. He was one of the victims of the infamous Firestone tire fiasco where the tires blew when turning a corner. The ensuing roll over killed him and the same thing happened another friend of mine as well. So seeing a Nova comes with mixed feelings for me. Still a great car though.

    • Superdessucke

      The Big Three would have called that a “Green Weenie,” LOL!

      • John Newell

        Yes Superdessucke they most likely would have and most of the guys at the track too right up until it blew their doors off. At that point the excuses would start to roll. It was so bad at time some guys would practically have a coronary over being beaten by an AMC. Ridiculous of course but some guys really were convinced that AMCs were comparable to turtles. In fact, that mind set was actually used in Rebel Machine adverts.

        But back to the Nova (No Go in Spanish) The bumpers were pretty offensive in those years on nearly every car. Now the bumpers are almost non-existent. When it came to offensive bumpers though, AMC led the way with the biggest ugliest bumpers going. The bumpers on this Nova look civilized by comparison.

  11. fish56

    Nice car but I’d do something about those huge bumpers.

    • Superdessucke

      Homemade Euro bumpers?

  12. Mike

    I had a 74 Nova as a senior in HS . Luckily for me I bought it from a Chevorlet mechanic which had bought it new . He started with a V8 four speed base Nova and had a dealer installed 454 and 4:10 package swapped into it . It was a beast to drive .
    Gone are the days where a few hundred bucks extra you could get the car you really wanted .

  13. z28th1s

    Those aren’t ladder bars, they are slapper/traction bars.

    IMO the red in the interior looks terrible and doesn’t come close to matching or complimenting the green on the exterior of the car.

    The exhaust tips also look terrible.

  14. sluggo

    These were great cars and under-appreciated back then, Light and fast, easily upgraded as well. Most were raced and many died after circle track abuse. This just looks period COOL,, not my choice of color though.. Here is mine. My first personal car. Bought it for $800 from a waitress I worked with. Did all kinds of poorly thought out mods while learning mechanics. Had a lot of motors in it. Came stock with a 305 or 307? Blew it up and then a 327, several 350s and briefly a Inline 6 and briefly as well a 454. Best setup was the small block chevy in these.
    Mine was a rally nova. wish I had kept it.

    This picture is winter of 1983, I think I had 70/14″s in Front and 60s in back at that time but did run some mickey thompson M50s for a while but they rubbed. (looked cool though)

    • mike

      That’s what air shocks were for….ya gotta “jack it up…” LOL Some of the stupid stuff guys did in that era….lest we forget side pipes ! LOL

      • sluggo

        Mike, correct, I still have period stickers that came with the air shocks (Picture of a rabbit, High jackers), spent a lot of time when I blew some out and had to replace some in a auto store parking lot and couldnt get the right ones and had to modify some.
        Dont forget leaf spring shackle kits were the other half of the equation. To run the M50 meats on it I had to make longer than standard shackle extenders (probably totally unsafe). I sure LOOKED cool but a good bump or a couple teen age girls in the back seat would still cause them to rub. I finally sold the Cragar wide rims and tires to another GI when I was in the military. Just ran the 60s in back.
        It was all very educational learning hotrodding. The local small town police had a big cross hairs on me & that car.

  15. Dave T

    It’s probably just me, but every time I see a B&M floor shifter, I start to calculate how much to fill in the hole in the floor and put the gear selector back where it was originally. Just a quirk but I really think they ruin a car’s looks unless it’s a single bucket seat drag racer that doesn’t see the street. Call me crazy!

    • mike

      They should all have 3 pedals….

  16. Rustytech Member

    Take off the bumper brackets ( extenders ) get a set of 71/72 brackets, problem solved. I did it once, but didn’t like the results. It looked a 73 Nova that was hit on both ends. This is a nice, low budget classic. I like that it hasn’t been dolled up as a fake SS.

  17. ccrvtt

    I know these cars were well-loved by a large segment of the car guy population, just not by me. The awkward styling is exaggerated by its placement between the SS396 and the big-block C3. It’s an iconic car for some. But not as iconic as the two that come before & after.

  18. sluggo

    Meant to say I did not like the grill-bumpers or other styling of the 73-74,,, the later boxy ones (1976-79???) were cool in a way but I liked the 72 and earlier styles

  19. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    Pretty sure Chevelle /El Camino SS wheels first 70/72 then later on the Camero’s….ran them on my 1964 SS Impala with the 396 as well….

  20. Troy s

    Well done Nova, engine looks a bit “showy” but I’m sure it can scoot. Looks like some sort of high performance single cross flow muffler with dual pipes, don’t know how well that works, but this would be a cool cruiser. The color is different, not my first choice, but not too bad.

    Like 1
  21. Rolf Poncho

    nice foto Sluggo

  22. Jwinters

    I woundnt drive it to far with those 2 missing header bolts

    Like 1
  23. Ron Hensel

    It’s kinda funny a lot of people called about this car and no one ever followed through and went to see it , that was unfortunate for them because seeing is believing and one ride down the road in it and you were sold on the sleeper quality of this green ” Thing ” Thank You To all that ignored this cause It’s in my garage and It’s still that funky green and absolutely haulin ass down the road

    Like 2
  24. John Newell

    The best thing is it went to someone who appreciates it. Good for you.

    Like 1

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