No Va Since 1996: 1973 Chevrolet Nova Custom Hatchback

The later Chevy Nova’s don’t seem to get the same love that earlier models do, and I think the underappreciation is undeserved.  Any small car that easily fits a Chevy small block engine deserves to be loved, as the performance potential is undeniable.  This 1973 Nova Custom Hatchback, for sale here on Craigslist in Columbus, Ohio, might be too nice to hot-rod, though.

The Nova, introduced as the Chevy II in 1962, was GM’s answer to Ford’s compact Falcon.  By the time the third generation was introduced in 1968, however, the Nova had grown to almost the same size as the mid-sized Chevelle.  While the larger dimensions were accompanied by the availability of big-block engines early in the 1970’s, by 1973 the most powerful offering was the 350ci small block V8.  Originally available as a two-door and four-door sedan, the Nova was also offered as a two-door hatchback starting in 1973.

According to the seller, this 1973 Nova hatchback was purchased by his grandmother new in 1973.  She put just over 26,000 miles on it over the next 23 years before it was parked in a barn to hibernate for the winter and never removed.  The car still wears its license plates that expired in 1996.  I’ve often been accused of being wise beyond my years, or something to that effect, so it’s not surprising that grandma’s choice of options mimics what I’d have chosen – the biggest available engine, the sporty two-door hatchback body style and a console shifter.  I’d have rather had a manual transmission, however, but perhaps grandma was a hardcore drag racer and was looking for consistent et’s.

The seller says the car is numbers matching, and if the mileage claims are true, it seems likely that all the original components are still present.  While the urge to modify this car would be strong, I think there might be merit to restoring this car to stock condition, also.  After all, how many can be left in such complete and low-mileage condition?  Being an Ohio car, this car warrants a thorough inspection for rust issues, but if it is structurally sound, it could be relatively easy to restore to driver condition.

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  1. Steve R

    Here is another car where the only evidence provided to support the sellers claim of low mileage is a picture of the speedometer. The pictures in the ad seem to intentionally avoid showing the lower sheet metal and areas prone to rust. It’s hard to believe a car from Ohio that was on the road for 23 years with an engine compartment that looks like that has no rust issues. It has some nice options, but I don’t see a car worth $8,800.

    Steve R

    • dgrass

      Concrete throughout its lifespan is ALWAYS wet. The hood traps this constantly rising moisture, leaving the engine bay to look significantly worse than the remainder of the body. A potential buyer could expect similar conditions on the underside of the dash as well as the bottom of the seats.

      • Steve R

        That’s not something I’ve typically run across. Many cars that I’ve seen, some of which have spent a couple of decades in the corner of a shop or warehouse don’t look anything like that. Dusty yes, rust on all of the horizontal surfaces, no. But then again I live in an area with low humidity, which I assume needs to be factored in.

        Steve R

      • dgrass

        Humidity levels on farms is higher than what you would find in nearby towns and cities in this neck of the woods. Take another look at that first picture if you would, did you notice the waterlogged concrete block?

        This poor thing stewed in its own juices for 20 years.

    • ACZ

      Look closer in the engine compartment. There’s plenty of rust-belt rot in there to give a good idea for the rest of the car.

  2. DaveMc

    A friend of mine had a ’73 Nova SS 350 4speed dealer ordered. I don’t know how many were out there but it was the only one I have ever seen. I set him up with my cousin and I lost a good drinking buddy, lol

  3. jdjonesdr

    ‘If it’s not worth 8800 dollars I’ll leave it in the barn.’ That makes a lot of sense. Gives you an idea of who you’re dealing with.

    • angryjonny


    • DaveMc

      Well, he can always bring it back out when it’s worth $2500 or $1500

      • r s

        Sure, he’s not doing anything this weekend.

  4. Alexander

    Nicely optioned car. The console and herringbone buckets are a nice surprise. Take one look at the Chevy road wheels and you can see this thing has plenty of rust to discover underneath, including the suspension and brakes. The seller says if its not worth $8800 it stays in the barn. What a goof.

  5. Jimmy

    Chevrolet not Shevrolet, Showroom not Showrum, Has not Hase. While I wouldn’t hold those mistakes against him the ” If it’s not worth $8,800 I’ll leave it in the barn ” attitude I do.

  6. jw454

    Well…. looks like this one will be staying in the barn.

  7. Nick

    Certainly a neat car with rare options, but if he can’t be bothered to wash it, or at least wipe it down, and take much better pictures, then sitting in the barn is what it’ll do. Especially at that price. I hope it does find a good home where it’s kept as original as possible.

  8. Tim S. Member

    Yet another seller bitten by the auction bug. I bet he saw something similar on Mecum, driver quality, cleaned up, everything works, and figured that his was worth at least that much.

  9. Wrong Way

    Could be a very nice car cleaned up and sorted out! I prefer the Chevy 11 Nova over these! The body style on the 11 is more attractive in my opinion tho! Definitely needs a 4 speed manual in this one!

  10. Lroy

    Only original once, should be brought back to life as close to original as possible. Plenty high mileage doners out there to restomod.

  11. Tom

    That’s mildew inside
    All over the interior
    Wear a mask

  12. Tiberius1701

    Looks like anyone who might be interested in actually buying this car might want to put in a call to the CDC first…the interior looks like a rolling biohazard.

  13. Duaney Member

    Good example of why vehicles stored in barns in high humidity Ohio should have had heaters and dehumidifier’s running all of those years.

  14. newfieldscarnut

    too bad (in capital letters)

  15. Zapp

    Check out the CL pics, especially of the console and hatch area.

    I see rust everywhere on screw heads and every other unpainted metal surface, and I bet that’s a series of nasty scratches near the top of the driver side front fender.

    On the bright side, the tires are only flat on the bottom.

    • Alexander

      Looks like a series of nasty bird crap to me on the driver’s fender. Even that might not clean off without a lot of effort. I’ve brought vinyl interiors with fuzzy mold back to nice. Not sure about the cloth fabrics and carpets. Shame this seller couldn’t do a little of this work for the next owner. Or, how about a wash and four new tires?

  16. Alexander

    Anyone know what went into the gauge cluster on the console? Looks like enough nacelles to afford the next owner a good number of read outs.

    • Dom Colucci

      Same as the SS Comaro console guages Gas,Oil,Bat,Temp…

  17. LAB3

    Wife: “You better sell that car”

    Husband: “We do need the money but I’m not selling it for less than what it’s worth”

  18. 123pugsy

    Brake pedal attests to the mileage.

    Moisture has caused surface rust but how about the bottom?

    I’d really like to get a peak at that.

  19. Gay Car Nut

    Lovely looking Nova. I’ve always liked this generation Chevy Nova. I’ve always preferred this over the later model.

  20. ACZ

    Another once nice car for sale by a no-mind.

  21. Jamie

    Not an original console shift car either. Column shift indicator in the dash shows that, unless the cluster was changed out for a lower mileage piece and the column was changed too- can’t see if the column shift attachment is there. Not a bad car though, wayyyy too high of a price. 73-74 novas that are Really nice are going for $15-20k. It would take an extra 20k to get this to a driver status now. Barrett Jackson syndrome strikes again!

  22. pwtiger

    Is that rust on the glove box door? High humidity? Someone should spend $100 on a quick detail job then take some good pics

    • Boatman Member

      Did you miss the mold on the seats, Tiger?

  23. Troy s

    There’s upgrading and then there is modifying. If it stops better than new, rides better than new, and runs stronger than new without cutting it up and putting on those stupid new big wheel rims an tires, that is just fine by me. Nothing I hate to see more are those classic older cars with the great big twenty inch rims mounted, or whatever size those ugly things are.

  24. JRH

    Take a look at the rust trail on the upper corner on the passenger side floor. Heater core leaking? The interior looks way worse then the rest of the car rust and mold wise. I wonder if once the carpets are lifted if there are any floors left.Plus if you read the story it says he Mom wanted to buy a new car but it has had 2 owners.It might be worth the money but I would have to inspect the car first.

  25. Butchb

    When in High School (about 1980) I traded a 75 Gremlin and a Suzuki 125 Enduro with a butterfly decoupaged to the tank, for a 73 Nova 2-dr Coupe, just the same color as this one. It had a sweet running 350 and a 3 speed on the floor. I put a Holly 4 brl manifold & carb, headers, a Muncie 4 speed and a Posi 3:73 re in it and man did she run! And man did I run it LOL! I also installed a Vertical Gate shifter in it, too wide tires, a super loud stereo with a home-made amp that caught fire, and other dumb teenager “upgrades.” I think the motor eventually popped and I traded it off for what I don’t remember.
    ( 2 years ago I ran into the guy I got the car from at a funeral and he complained he got a bad deal, 35 years later and he’s belly achin. Can you imagine?)

    I had such fond memories of it, when I spotted a little old lady one owner garage kept 73 2-dr 6 cyl for sale at auction in 1991 I think I ended up bidding against myself I wanted it so bad and gave $2250. (Despite being in the garage the 1/4’s had Midwest rust) I painted it blue and drove it with the 6 cyl for a long time until my buddies razzed me so hard about it, I put a big block in it, and then it was on. The 4th BBC it had was a 427 with NOS. I parked it when the economy dropped out.

    By then my son was old enough to be interested, so the 427 went out and a 327 went in. We did a Father son thing, repainted the car red (his choice) restored the whole thing, and it was his. He popped the 327 in no time, since it was his responsibility I didn’t step in to fix it, and neither did he. It sat broken in his Mothers yard for 2 years and I ended up with it again. I put a 350 in (the 7th motor it had) and sold it to a guy who bought it for his 17 year old son. Apropos I thought. After 24 years it was gone and I haven’t really missed it.

  26. r s

    My buddy in high school in the 73-74 year while still in school took a full time job with a part of the Caterpillar corporation in their parts warehouse. The place flipped union and suddenly he was making $6.67 an hour (plus benefits of course) for the last half of his senior year. That’s like almost $40/hr now, a genuine living wage. Soon after that he bought a 73 Nova SS hatchback, 350, auto on the floor, not sure if it had AC but it was a very pretty metallic orange with a beige and black interior, really nice car. Might have had a half vinyl roof either in white or beige. Don’t remember what he paid (it wasn’t quite brand new) but at that rate of pay I am sure it was no big deal for him. Almost like this one but it was near new and of course no mismatch to the paint…

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