Original 350: 1972 Chevrolet Nova SS

Some classic cars will leave their new owner with choices to make. This 1972 Chevrolet Nova SS reflects this perfectly. The buyer will need to decide whether to treat it to a cosmetic refresh or preserve the status quo. Strong arguments could be made for either approach, so the final decision will come down to a matter of taste. Located in Sarasota, Florida, you will find the Nova listed for sale here on eBay. Healthy bidding has pushed the price along to $12,100, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

Finished in Sequoia Green, this Nova makes a positive first impression. Most of the car’s paint is original, although it has received some touch-up work and some minor rust repairs in the past. This rust was confined to areas like the lower door corners, and the vehicle appears to be structurally sound. The owner supplies an excellent selection of photos, and they reveal the floors, frame, and trunk pan to all be clean and solid. The chrome and trim are in excellent condition for a car of this age, while I can’t spot any flaws in the glass. The original owner ordered the Nova with Rally wheels, but the seller has swapped these for a set of Rocket Racing wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich’s finest. Unfortunately, the original wheels are now long gone, so the buyer might need to hunt for a set if they are striving for complete originality.

I haven’t mentioned the state of the paint until this point because I thought that a picture is worth a thousand words. While it is original, it is showing some marked deterioration. This is one area where the buyer will need to make a decision. Retaining the car as a survivor is possible, and I would applaud anyone who chose to tread that path. However, if I were a betting man, I’d have my money firmly on the buyer treating the SS to a repaint. It should be worth the effort because Sequoia Green is a stunning color that adds an air of class to any vehicle when it is polished to a deep shine. That is what possibly awaits with this car.

When the original owner ordered the Nova, he ticked a lot of boxes on the options list. That means that this car comes equipped with a 350ci V8, a 3-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission, a Posi rear end, power steering, and power front disc brakes. American performance cars were facing a triple-whammy of issues during this time, and these hurt the muscle car segment enormously. The Clean Air Act required tighter emission regulations, insurance premiums on performance cars were heading upward at an alarming rate, and an oil crisis was on the World’s doorstep. That latter issue hadn’t bitten when this Nova rolled off the line, but the other two certainly had. You only need to consider the evolution of the Nova SS between 1970 and 1972 to gain an insight into the profound nature that the other two factors had. If you strolled into a Chevrolet dealership in 1970, you could drive away in a Nova SS with a 396ci V8 under the hood that churned out 375hp. Point that brute at the ¼-mile, and the journey would be over in 14.2 seconds. Even the humble 350 offered 300hp and was capable of completing the same trip in 15.2 seconds. Wind the clock forward two years, and the story was very different. Chevrolet no longer offered the 396 in the Nova SS, and the 350 that was available produced 200hp. The vehicle could still achieve a sub-16-second ¼-mile ET, but only just. This Nova is numbers-matching, but the owner has treated it to a few upgrades that should unlock a few additional ponies. The owner has fitted a freer-flowing air cleaner and a Holley Street Dominator intake on the intake side. It isn’t clear whether the carburetor has also been upgraded, but spent gases exit the small block via a set of headers and a dual exhaust. He has also fitted tubular upper and lower control arms, which should provide a more comfortable and confident feel for the driver. The owner says that the Nova starts easily and that it runs and drives well. I get the impression from the listing that the buyer won’t need to spend a dime on this classic’s drivetrain.

The Nova’s interior is claimed to be original, and the buyer won’t need to do much to have it sparkling like new. The Black cloth-and-vinyl upholstery on the seats looks impressive for its age, with no signs of appreciable wear or other problems. The remaining upholstery and plastic are excellent, while the dash and pad are just as nice. About the only thing worthy of criticism, and this is because I’m judging this interior harshly, is the carpet. It shows some wear and fading, but it could remain untouched if the survivor tag is to be retained. However, the next owner might choose to spend $220 and a couple of days pulling the seats and fitting a new carpet set. That isn’t a lot of money, and fresh carpet would positively impact the interior’s overall presentation. Once again, the original owner chose to tick a few boxes on the options list for this car. It is fitted with a pushbutton AM/FM radio with the optional rear speaker. He also ticked the rear defroster, remote exterior mirror, and the electric clock. When you combine those features with the upholstery that he chose, this would have been a pretty special interior when the car was new.

The American automotive scene was evolving rapidly in the early 1970s, and the Nova SS graphically demonstrated these changes. Nobody knew it at the time, but The Malaise Era was only a few short months away when this car rolled off the production line. This would see many popular performance models left as shadows of their former selves, and it was a period in automotive history that never looked like it would end. This car predates those dark times, and as such, it is the last of its breed. Values on the ’72 Nova SS have remained stable in recent years, but they are starting to show signs of increasing. This change has not been dramatic, but it has been consistent at around 7% over the past six months. Considering the work required to return this car to a showroom fresh state, I would expect that the owner has probably set the reserve at somewhere around $20,000. I would be surprised if the number would be much higher, but the classic scene can sometimes spring a surprise or two. Now that you’ve taken a closer look, would you treat the Nova to a repaint, or would you retain it proudly as a survivor?

Fast Finds


  1. Skorzeny

    Immediately upon seeing this posting, without seeing the current bid, I thought $10-$12K. at $12,100, that’s right about where it should be considering the work it needs. Or, drive as is, I would after fixing the interior. The automatic is a bummer…

    Like 4
    • Bill

      Wrong. The days of $12k SS anything other than a roller are over. This is $20-23k as-is.

      Like 6
  2. A.G.

    The ‘repair’ done to the trailing lower corner of the driver’s door is concerning.

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      That’s just the start of it. Look at the taillight panel behind the bumper. There is significant rust that will need to be addressed in the not too distant future. Hopefully bidders will take that into account, unfortunately there are far too many people that can’t look beyond shiny paint. I’d be out at this point, but, I’m not married to any particular make or model, when I’m looking I just want the best car in my price range.

      Steve R

      Like 8
  3. Mark

    Good grief…..I’m getting old. Out of High School I paid a co-worker $300 (in installments mind you) for a 2 owner straight 68′, 6 cylinder with a blue interior. Not an SS but dang, I guess when the Chevelles got out of reach, the Novas were sure to follow.

    Like 6
  4. Larry

    Has anybody had any luck dying faded black carpet like this one, instead of pulling seats and trim and replacing?

  5. Tommy Granert

    Did any one notice the invoice and build sheet? It says bumper guards…the bumpers must have been replaced and they left them off. It also list a rear window defroster but there are no pic’s of it.
    The bid is now $22,300.00 and Reserve not met.

    Like 1
  6. Joe

    This car needs body work and paint

  7. NW Iowa Kevin Member

    In high school my buddy had a ’72 Nova, not a SS that had a 350 w/3 speed manual. Red with black vinyl, jacked up a bit with Cragars and traction bars. First, his girlfriend rolled it side over side. They got it fixed, this time with a white vinyl roof. Then, he rolled it end over end several times. That was the end of it. Both times alcohol was involved. I loved that car, what a waste. Then, he got a Lil Red Express pickup which his girlfriend rolled and ended it’s life. Again, drunk. What idiots.

    Like 1

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