Hot 502 V8: 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS

The external appearance of this 1971 Nova SS provides the merest hint of the performance potential that hides beneath the surface. The wider wheels and the Cowl Induction hood suggest that things might not be as they seem, but they are the mere tip of this automotive iceberg. The owner has done all of the heavy lifting on this classic, and it is now time for someone else to reap the benefit of his hard work. Located in Sandwich, Illinois, you will find the Nova listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set the sale price at $45,000 OBO, and as you will see, the buyer will be getting a lot for their money. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Pat L for spotting this beauty for us.

The first thing to note with this Nova is how nicely it presents. The Cranberry Red paint shines beautifully, with no signs of any defects or problems. The panels are not only original and straight, but they appear to be rust-free. The glass is flawless and is matched by trim and chrome that is in a similar state. The Nova rolls on a set of wide Rally wheels, and these add a touch of menace to the exterior. The owner says that the underside of the vehicle is spotlessly clean and structurally sound. He has tied the sub-frame, and as you are about to see, this is for an excellent reason.

The Nova would have rolled off the production line fitted with a 350ci V8 and a 4-speed manual transmission. With 270hp on tap, it would have been capable of whipping through the ¼ mile in 15.5 seconds. Most owners would have been satisfied with those numbers, but not this one! The original motor and transmission have been consigned to the pages of history and replaced by a 502ci big-block and a Turbo 400 automatic transmission. However, this monster motor has been given a tickle by the owner. He has fitted Brodix aluminum heads, roller rockers, an MSD ignition system, a Holley 850cfm carburetor, tubular headers, and a dual exhaust. With the big block gulping down masses of fresh air via the Cowl Induction hood, it would be safe to say that the buyer will have a lot more than 270hp available under their right foot. Getting all of that power to the road will be a challenge, which is why he also fitted a 3.73 12-bolt Posi rear end, Cal-Trac bars, and Goodyear drag radial tires on those Rally wheels. Keeping the V8 from going the full Chernobyl on us falls to a large aluminum radiator. Of course, common sense dictated updating other areas of the Nova to cope with all of those additional ponies. The owner has fitted a rack-and-pinion steering system and front disc brakes with a Hydro-Boost system. So let’s see; It goes, it stops, and it handles. That sounds like a complete package to me. For all of those upgrades, it doesn’t seem that the owner has created a highly-strung classic. He says that the Nova is happy to run on 93 Octane fuel, which means that it could be a breeze to live with on a regular basis.

The buyer won’t need to break out their wallet to perform an interior restoration because it has no apparent problems or needs. The black vinyl upholstery is free from rips or other issues. The dash and pad are spotless, while the same is true of the carpet. The owner has equipped the Nova with a large tach to supplement the factory unit that resides in the dash. He has also fitted a Hurst shifter, and this pokes through the console that is festooned with gauges to monitor the health of the monster lurking under the hood. The interior needs nothing, and its overall impression is that it looks comfortable but purposeful.

This 1971 Nova SS appears to be a complete package for the performance car enthusiast. The body is rock-solid, with no rust evident in its original panels. It presents superbly, and the interior is just as impressive as the exterior. It carries serious performance credentials, and it seems that the owner has tackled the build as a total package. It appears that this is a car that should go, stop, and handle. It offers a lot for the asking price, and I suspect that it will be going to a new home relatively soon.


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  1. Ralph

    This is a beauty for sure. Not even a Nova fan but these body style always looked the best to me, especially with some nice upgrades.
    If the rest of the car checks out as nice as the photos do, someone will be getting a really nice example.
    If I was a Nova guy though, this would be near the top of my list.
    Wow it just looks so good.

    Like 2
  2. Dave

    All that’s missing is a period-correct Yenko or Nickey sticker. Well done!

    Like 2
    • Ohio Rick

      And a four speed!

      Like 4
    • Shawn

      Ugh, please no. The Yenko S/C clones are so over done in Novas.

      Like 1
  3. Mutt


    The Good: Awesome car
    The Bad: It’s in Sandwich, Illinois
    The Ugly: Now I’m hungry and I ain’t got no sandwich

    Like 32
  4. Kurt

    Love this car but red is a cop magnet.Just sayin’

    Like 3
    • BigBlocksRock

      I believe the color is “Arrest me red”

      Like 6
  5. Troy s

    A handful of a ride to say the least, it’s not like the 427 or even puny 396 was overly cooperative in a Nova!
    Car looks great as it sits, although red is too much of a “looksy” color for me. The black interior is spot on. But most of all that 502 runs on pump gas,
    lots of it too, which is great for a driver.

    Like 2
  6. Karl

    Boy that is a beautiful Nova and like was earlier the heavy lifting has been done. The drive train looks solid the 502 is a very solid platform and not that it’s perfect as it is or not the new owner could do many things to make MORE if desired! I would have to say I would be interested if my plate wasn’t already too full. I like this car a lot!

    • Kurt


    • Dave

      B-B-But it’s not restored to original! It’s b-b-been modified! LOL

      Like 2
  7. Karl

    OMG it’s been modified? Perfect it sure looks good to me!!

    Like 2
  8. Kevin

    This one would be a smoky burnout screamer for sure,I remember as a kid a guy with a 68 nova, that just had a built 327 that was,all over the track when he’d run it,wheel hop,back end fish tailing, it was a blast to watch,but guy’s who could hook handed him his butt regularly!

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