Rust-Free Project: 1972 Chevrolet Nova Rally

When I initially looked at this 1972 Nova, the first thoughts that popped into my head were that it is solid, and it is also clean. It’s not perfect, but it represents a great foundation for a project. This is said to be a true California car that has found its way all the way to Fisherville, Kentucky, and is being sold with a clean title. If this is a car that sparks your interest, then you will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist. A big thank you has to go out to Barn Finder Pat L for spotting this one for us.

The Nova is still wearing its original paint and decals, and these have held up well over the last 46 years. The owner has posted a pretty comprehensive series of photos of the car, and it really does appear to be rock solid. There are no apparent rust issues, and a fresh coat of paint and some new decals would have it looking really nice.

News inside the Nova is not quite as good as it is on the outside, but it is far from being a lost cause. The dash pad is badly cracked, so that will need replacing. There is also an aftermarket radio/cassette player fitted, with speakers in the kick panels. The rest of the interior looks a bit tired, with noticeable wear on the tops of the door trims, and some seam separation on the seat back. If you are trying to make the car really pop, then I think that a re-trim would be a pretty decent investment.

There are equal helpings of good news and bad news when we lift the hood. The car was originally equipped with a 350ci V8 and 3-speed manual transmission. This is how it remains today, although the 350 is now a California GM Crate Engine, and not the original. However, it’s not all bad news, because not only does the current engine run and drive well, but the original engine is sitting strapped to a pallet, and it comes with the car. If you want a numbers matching car, then this might still be a possibility. The owner also has all of the original vehicle documentation, including the build sheet.

This is a Nova that looks like a solid project car, although it can be driven exactly as it stands today. With no rust issues, it is a car that is not going to chew-up massive amounts of money on replacing rusty metal. Pristine examples of the Nova Rally are currently attracting prices of above $30,000, so with little major work required, and an asking price of $16,250, this Nova is an attractive proposition.


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  1. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    I had the exact car in red with that same white interior. I purchased it from the original meticulous owner and added a nice Holley 4 barrel/intake combo and while it added some spunk, the car was really all show and no go. My how times have changed with engines and fuel delivery systems since then. I did not appreciate 3-speed manual transmissions like I do today.

    Like 5
    • Mark

      Remember in 1972 horsepower was down not just because they rated them in net (as people thin its the reason)..

      GM,Ford and Chrysler lowered the compression,changed the heads,cam,crank,intakes and carburetors thus huge loss of power/torque…It wasnt just changing to net hp as people think…I know I read this all the time..

      Old cars were very powerful/quick a 396 Nova ran 12’s if you could hook up and headers,carburetor gets lower…Same with Mopar 426 Hemi’s were mid 11 second cars with headers alone you got an extra 50 -60 hp (and the 425 hp rating was for the lowest power version of 1966 Hemi,each year it actually gained in power,70/71 was most powerful yet 425 hp rating lol)..

      I know 340 Dusters that ran high 12’s with only carb jetting and headers added..My 68 Charger RT 440 4bbl,3.23 gears ran high 12’s in 1975 with bias ply tires..I added headers,rejetted the carb rest stock and it didnt have traction either.

      My buddies 327 Nova SS was a low – mid 13 second car headers/carburetor rest stock..3.08 posi..and street bias ply tires 195- 75 -14’s..

      Like 2
  2. sluggo

    Oh Nostalgia! I bought a 72 Rally Nova and was my first hot rod. I paid $600 and started many poorly executed hot rodding attempts in 1981. Many fond memories. Most people dont know what the rally model was, and thats an interesting marketing idea. They were not truly fast or exotic. Mine was a 305 or 307?? Turbo 350. I ran a lot of motors in it BBC & SBC. I sold it and regret it. I will say this is an exceptionally clean and nice condition example. These dont get the recognition that the camaros or chevelles did, But were a very potent muscle car with a few mods. Value is less than a top shelf Chevelle or similar year Camaro, But I would rather have one of these than a Chevelle. My wife has a 69 Chevelle, so thats the direction we are going with.
    On this one, Id look for a 5 speed and convert it. That motor would wake up quick and easy with a few simple mods. I dont care for the color or interior colors but thats easily addressed. Its not such a gold standard car that a different color change would hurt its value.

    Like 5
  3. Rock On

    This car was a way for Chevrolet to get around high insurance premiums on muscle cars. Similar to the Heavy Chevy Chevelle. Anytime the insurance companies saw Super Sport alarm bells went off.

    Like 4
  4. mainlymuscle

    Nice clean lil Nova that would be a shame to modify,but then I have no shame.
    What I do have is a 1971 LS-7 never installed ,sitting on a pallet.Can you say “sleeper ” ?

    Like 4
  5. Comet

    The horrors of a tow strap are evident.

    Like 2
  6. Karl

    Boy that is one very sweet car, it’s going to be expensive!!!

    Like 1
  7. David Mika Member

    Tow strap? Do you mean how the front bumper kinda wigs out at its lower mid?

  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Had fun in my 1971….nice car here….not sure on how close to that price with out an inspection.

    Like 2
  9. SquareLeft

    Very nice example of a car that’s increasingly hard-to-find. Before I started typing this, I cross-posted it to Steve’s Nova Site to give the Nova community a chance at it before someone else snaps it up.

    All the Rally Nova bits seem to be in place except for the grille, which has been swapped for one from a ‘standard’ Nova. The intake on the original engine has also been changed, but neither that nor the two-barrel Rochester is especially difficult to find.

    I follow Nova prices pretty carefully and I’d say that this is definitely a good buy at $16,250 if everything is as advertised.

    Like 2

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