Masquerading Muscle Car: 1972 Rally Nova


Some people are more worried about looks than they are about actual performance. Chevrolet figured that out long ago and has been offering affordable, but fast-looking versions of their top performers for years. Take this 1972 Nova for example. It came with the stripes and the rally wheels, but was lacking where it really counted. Fitted with a two-barrel 350, it wasn’t exactly a fire breathing monster. It was cheaper to buy and insure though. This particular one was stashed away in a barn until the current owner pulled it out and proceeded to make it their daily driver. It’s now listed here on eBay for $10k or best offer.


We have to give the seller props for using this Nova on their daily commute. Many people buy old cars and just park them in their garage, but driving a car is the best way to find all the faults and get them fixed. The brake system should always be your number one priority when bringing a car out of long term storage. New hoses, pads, and fresh fluid went in. No mention is made of the master cylinder so that might be on the next owner’s to do list. A new clutch went in though so that makes up for it.


Sounds like someone also installed a four-barrel carb and intake so perhaps there’s a bit more muscle here than we initially thought. The 350 V8 is be one of the cheapest and easiest engines to upgrade, so honestly I could see the appeal of these when they were new. Budget minded enthusiasts could buy them and add speed parts when they had enough saved up. A four-barrel carb, hotter cam, and breathed upon heads could really make a big difference here. I’m not so sure what the draw is today though.


Well, like I said, some people are more concerned about looks than anything else. This was the most plentiful year for the Rally Nova with over 33k built. This car doesn’t appear to be all original and there’s some serious rust in the rear fenders. Still, the 350/3-speed combo and Rally Nova package do make it desirable. Just be sure to get proof that this is a real RPO-YF1 car before making an offer. What do you think – would you pay a premium for an appearance package or are you more concerned with what’s under the hood?


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  1. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    I owned a red ’72 Rally Nova that I purchased from the original owner. It was a numbers matching low mileage car with a 350 2 barrel and 3-speed manual. I was happy when I bought it and even happier when I sold it.

  2. Rock On

    Pretty cool. Couldn’t see an a/c compressor looking from my phone but appears to have aftermarket air. Nice car to hop up. Tons of aftermarket support.

  3. ccrvtt

    From the edge of the A-pillars back it’s a different car from the front-end styling. Neither part is bad but they just don’t match imho. Cars were inexpensive, light weight, lots of affordable go-fast goodies to tack on, front subframes were swappable onto other vehicles, contemporary GM quality (relatively good), but just couldn’t get past my take on the styling. Good find for a nostalgic mini-muscle car.

  4. JW

    My mechanic has a rust free dark blue one of these, he stroked the 350 to a 383, added a 4 barrel and headers with flowmasters, it definitely is no slouch on the streets today. He told me at car shows others call it the poor mans musclecar until he lights them up then the critics jaws drop. With the body work needed and mechanicals to make it a respectable musclecar 7K is about all I would offer.

  5. Pfk1106

    I have been behind many of these, and they always seem to go down the road slightly sideways, the rear tires don’t align with the front tires….

    • Steven C

      I remember when i was a kid in the 80’s when the nova and it’s variants were still common on the road my dad and i laughing when we would be behind them going down the road sideways.

  6. Ck

    I have owned a 72 Nova with a factory sky roof since 1981.Its the car i drove in high school.This past spring I finished a 20yr restoration /Hot Rod. I hate the word resomod.Its got a 350 with a 4spd and a posi.Although some of these cars have been known to Crab down the road.Mine goes down the road nice and straight,and at a HIGH RATE OF SPEED I may add.Needless to say I’m a little partial to this body style. So I think this Rally Nova looks like a good deal for the $,it does need some work though.Parts to bring this car back where it should be are readily available .Be careful though some of the aftermarket stuff is absolute junk .


    Entry level Chebby cheapo junk. Never liked the style but have to admit some of the fastest cars I’ve experienced were Novas. Which is ironic because Nova means No go in Spanish

  8. erikj

    That’s funny, nova in Spanish means no go!
    This nova is not so bad. And yes, for not a lot of $ its very easy to make this nova go.
    The rust is a bit to fix,but parts are cheap-install is not unless you can weld yourself.I do like this one though.

  9. 68 custom

    it is in pretty decent shape IMO and that is the first place a 68/72 Nova will rust so the body might be pretty good, the trunk would tell more of the story. after 66/67 ChevyII’s the 68/72 are the best looking to me. I would freshen up the original motor and add a set of vortec heads and some other hipo goodies the add a 4 speed either a M20 or a BW super T-10 and disc brakes. price seems a little high but not insane!

  10. Ck

    Entry level cheapo junk !This comin from a guy who thinks a Pacer or a Gremlin is all that and a bag a chips .Ohh yaa lets not forget to throw in that beauty of automotive engineering The. Matador.


      So wrong, you have me mistaken for someone else. I hate the Pacer, it was the downfall of AMC. Get your facts straight.

  11. David Stigall

    The Rally was only made for one or two years i think. a friend bought one when he came back from Nam.

    Like 1
  12. john albera

    Looks to have a set of early double hump heads on it. Didn’t the heads have the accessory bolt holes on the ends by ’72 ?

    • 68 custom

      does look to have double hump heads, I know that 1970 casting #186 had double humps and accessory holes plus closed chambers. must have been swapped on?

  13. Doug Towsley

    I love these! I had one back in early 1980s, Here is a picture of mine back in 83 during a light snow storm. Had a LOT of fun back in the day with it. Also had a LOT of motors in it as well as both Auto trans and 4 speed. (Chevy parts interchange well). Great muscle car material. Many companies selling everything you need for these

  14. erikj

    some one down the street from me in the 80s had a nice one with a unusal bright geen paint. looked orig. also same street was a nw edition 70 torino. love the day when that was normal. And the orange superbird that never moved from its carport. all withen blocks of eachother. almost for got -the 289 cobra that drove by sometimes. you could hear it blocks away before it went by. Great days the 70s and 80s where

  15. Mike

    I bought a new one in 72. It was gold black rally stripe,350 automatic. $3250.00. The dealer had a 72 Heavy Chevy which was gold black stripe with black interior. These were only made the one year like the nova. The rally wheels on this one have the wrong ones for a 72. It is a great looking muscle car.

  16. Chris

    I had a ’72 Nova with straight 6 and automatic trans back in 1988. Mine was the plain Jane, stripper model. It had already succumbed to the tin worn by the time I got it. I have always been fond of the styling, but so many of them “dogtracked” down the road. My ’72 drove nice and straight, but I had a ’75 Nova that dogtracked terribly. I wouldn’t buy one without a very thorough inspection of the chassis and unibody.

  17. HeadMaster1

    I had a 76 Buick Skylark Hatchback (nova twin), had the buick 3.8 V6 and slushbox. I got it from my HS auto shop as somebody donated it to the school because it wouldn’t start…..I ran a hot wire direct to the starter from the cigar lighter as the ignition switch was faulty…….Fun car even with the V6, and the hatchback with fold down seat came in very handy for “camping” with a date

  18. Bob C.

    Dogtrack, crabbing, sidewinder. This pretty much happened to the 1975 to 1979 models.

  19. JW

    My 68 Camaro RS/SS did the dog tracking, my mechanic found I had sheared one of the leaf spring pins locating the rear axle on one side doing hole shots and it had moved ever so slightly causing it to do this, then after that was fixed I broke one of the c-clips holding the passenger axle in place causing it to slide out making the tire contact the quarter panel. Oh to be 20 and stupid again.

  20. Rolf Poncho 455

    I was born in 72 too so these cars are awesome to me
    just love the shape just needs a 454 and 4speed trans

  21. Rob

    My first car was a 1970 Nova. I would love to have this one. Ahhh, the memories.

  22. Supernova72

    I have a 72 coupe I bought in 1989. 350 2 bbl TH 350. I bolted on headers, 4 bbl. mild cam, 3.42 gears. The motor was tired at 117k miles. Ran a 13.75 @ 99mph. Not fast by today’s standards but I had $1300 in the car total. Paid $600 for it. 😀

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