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Stored for 15 Years: 1972 Chevrolet Nova Survivor

This 1972 Chevrolet Nova is a two-owner Californian survivor car that has sparked some interest since it was listed for sale. You will find the Nova listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in San Juan Capistrano, California, and is being offered with a clear title. The car opened with a bid of $200, but 12 bidders have submitted 26 bids, which has pushed the price to $10,100.

This appears to be a clean and honest car, and it has only just emerged after 15 years in storage. The seller provides plenty of clear photos that illustrate what he believes are the car’s worst point. I have to say that none of these points are particularly bad. There is a tiny rust spot at the bottom of the wheel arch on the passenger side, and that appears to be it. The paint is worn through in a few spots, and there are a few dings and marks, but otherwise, it looks pretty good. The shots of the trunk and the underside of the car reveals no nasty surprises, with everything looking clean and solid.

The interior is also pretty good. The front seat has received a new cover at some stage, and the dash pad has a crack in it. The rest of the interior is clean and as neat as a pin. The owner claims that the car has traveled a genuine 128,000 miles, and that claim is entirely believable when you examine the condition and look for all of the usual indicators for high mileage. The owner also indicates that he does have the headrests for the front seats, but that they aren’t currently fitted.

Under the hood is the original 350ci V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. This is backed by the original turbo 350 transmission. Some TLC has been lavished on the drive-train since the car emerged from hiding. This has included a fresh Edelbrock performer cam and lifter set, a new timing gear set, water pump, power steering pump, fuel pump, battery, distributor, plugs, and plug wires. The owner says that the car runs and drives well and that the brakes stop the car straight and true.

This 1972 Nova is not the most exciting car on the planet, but I like it because it is a sleeper. I would be very interested to know what sort of difference the new cam and lifters have made to the performance of the car. It represents a solid base for a project vehicle, and the bidding so far indicates that a few people must like this one.


  1. Avatar photo Steve R

    Nice car. Not very exciting, but it would make a good weekend cruiser.

    Steve R

    Like 9
  2. Avatar photo flmikey

    Why would you go through all the trouble of switching the cam and timing chain, only to keep the 2 barrel on it? That being said, very nice find, and the seller should get all the money on this one…

    Like 27
    • Avatar photo Lynn Dockey Member

      i thought the same thing

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Jeff

      The intake, exhaust manifold, and stock pipes probably won’t breathe well enough to allow a 4bbl to make much difference. You might get 10-15 more horsepower, but throttle response may suffer. Over-carburetion is probably the most common mistake people make when seeking better performance.

      Like 16
      • Avatar photo Steve

        Nope. Been there, done that with a 71 El Camino, originally a 350. 2 barrel. They even came from the factory with a 350, 4 barrel and single exhaust. I later upgraded mine to a dual exhaust and headers.Even better.

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo 68custom

        Plus the 350 has the big 2gc carb, not hipo, but adequate with a decent set of dual exhaust.

        Like 2
    • Avatar photo Steve R

      After sitting in storage for 15 years it’s not unlikely the cam went flat when they got it running. That cam might have been something they had sitting around or they were able to buy cheaply.

      Steve R

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Allmycars

        It had a couple bad lifters so it got a new Edelbrock cam set from Summit racing.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo SquareLeft

        @Steve R
        You’re probably dead-on about the cam. Chevy cams in that era weren’t known to be made of the highest quality metals and were even more likely to ‘wipe’ lobes when fed low-zinc ‘modern’ oils. When they deteriorate, they usually take the lifters with them. A mild Edelbrock cam would make an excellent replacement for a stock bumpy-stick. As to the 2-barrel, I’d guess that the seller was more concerned with getting the car running than springing for a 4-barrel, a new manifold and an air cleaner.

        Being a certified Nova freak, I track these prices fairly closely. The ’68-’72 cars have been gaining value faster than the market in general over the past few years, but still trail the ’66-’67 Novas by a big margin. I’d say that this car is pretty well aligned with the market in this auction. The ’73 and later ‘big bumper’ cars are also gaining some ground, but very slowly. The ’68 and newer cars have the advantage of being able to accept virtually any GM engine with very few changes due to the similarity of the front end to that of the Camaro. Also of note – in general, drag racers like Novas better than A-bodies because of their lighter weight.

        Like 6
  3. Avatar photo JamestownMike

    WOW! Current high bid of $9,850 with reserve not met for a base 72 Nova, bench seat, automatic on the column and no A/C??…….unreal!

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo John T.

      There was a bid of $10,100 yesterday (Monday, November 5) as mentioned by the BF Author but for whatever reason that bid was RETRACTED today … What’s up with that? I do not know if the reserve came off with that bid, but for now the unmet reserve is ON with the current high bid of $9,850.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Steve R

      Out of curiosity, what do you think it’s worth?

      I’d bet is goes to $12,000, maybe higher. This car is light years ahead of your typical $4,000-6,000 Nova in need of restoration you typically find peppered around Craigslist and eBay. About the only way to find a Nova in this condition significantly cheaper is to catch wind of it before it’s ever advertised or be the first person there with cash in hand. Desirable makes and models in nice original condition are hard to find, they sell for a premium and deservedly so.

      Steve R

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo JamestownMike

        Despite being a GM guy, I’ve never been much of a Nova fan. With it being a base car with no A/C, It’s only worth $5k to me (thus my surprise with the almost $10k bid). I’d much rather spend $10k on an A-body. Sad to see prices getting so crazy to the point your average guy/gal can’t afford a classic car/truck anymore!

        Like 8
  4. Avatar photo LAB3

    128k on a 350 of that era means tired in my book, time for a valve job at least.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo allmycars

      Actually the car has 150-lbs of compression in all cylinder and people need to think about how many 46 year old cars in original condition are out there.They are only original once

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo John m leyshon Member

      Yep…my dad got tired of the valve issues in our ’73 …350, 2bbl. Cheapo mufflers every couple years. The misery continued …Topped off by trading it in on the 1979 Plymouth Volare ! (nooooooo!) Love dad, convinced him to get an Accord in his older years. Love helping, yet im not getting any younger either lol.

      Like 3
  5. Avatar photo John m leyshon Member

    Question BTW…Any insight of the valve issues ? ! know the were still running 89 leaded gas. Lower compression ? Running too lean for emission standards ?

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo SquareLeft

      @John m leyshon
      See my reply (above) on valve issues.

      (1) Sorry, but you’re about 10 years behind on Nova values!
      (2) An automatic on the column is to be expected with a bench-seat car – some automatic bucket-seat cars from Chevrolet also came with column shifters.
      (3) Kits from manufacturers like Vintage Air have improved the market value of non-air conditioned cars. Not only do they let you do away with 40+ year old air conditioning components, they also eliminate the hot-water heater, letting the installer clean up the engine compartment.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo Christopher

        I owned a bucket seat, Powerglide column shifted ’69 Camaro in high school, back in the ’70s. It had a 307 in it when I bought it in ’77, but it originally had the 250 inline six! Wish I still had it, I would put the six back in it, take it back to original. It was a factory A/C car too.

        Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Lroy

    It is a deuce coupe, that why we love them. The next thing to do with the engine is electronic ignition and throttle body. Sweet ride worth the current bis but not muck more. $10500 should get it.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo Poncho

    At least it isn’t a four door car. The basics are there with a fairly solid body. Bucket seats and a console would help a lot with the interior. Engine compartment would be easy to upgrade to at least a four barrel carb and intake and cam/lifter set. As mentioned before, a valve job may be in order to compensate for the modern unleaded fuel. Another option would be to drop in a LS engine and modern transmission. Then it would be very reliable and fun, but where the wallet draining stops is up to the next owner.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Steve

    I have to wonder if the reason for the cam change was actually due to the sloppy stock timing chain, and the cam was swapped while it was apart. I have seen this quite on older vehicles. Another common issue when these cars were new was for the stock nylon cam timing to strip out. My first car, in 1985 or there abouts (I traded yard mowing, etc for it before I even had a license) was a 71 El Camino with a 350/ 2 barrel was parked in the late 80’s due to this. My dad and brothers and I swapped a Crane 350/300 “blueprint” cam and lifters, new double roller timing set into it, along with a cast iron 4 barrel and Q jet 4 barrel off a 68 or 69 Impala I picked up for $25 out of the wrecking yard. It ran pretty good as is, but adding a set of headers and dual exhaust with Sonic Turbo mufflers made it even better. I later rebuilt another 350 we pulled out of a 73 C30 truck. I was on a budget, so it was built with .030 cast flat top pistons, factory steel crank turned .010/ .010 and a set of 462 “Camel Hump” heads from the same 69 Impala (that I got for $50) that the intake and carb came from, new Comp 268H cam and Edelbrock Performer intake, same headers and exhaust. It was a real runner then! I only had $1,000 into it, even with machine work! ah, the good old days! I still have the original 350 on a stand in my garage. I have run it in a couple of projects over the years after rebuilding it to specs similar to the 350 out of the 73 C30.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Keruth

      Steve is spot on about the timing issues!
      75k mi. was about right for gear/chain set.
      Lots of bargain Chevy’s had just that issue only, a good vacuum gauge told the tail, fast profits ensued, lol.
      I’d like an old Nova, in this shape!

      Like 6
  9. Avatar photo Karl

    I have always been a big Nova fan and this sure does fit my vision well. Take care of any body work that needed attention and since a guarantee the cam is flat, valve springs getting soft you know all the normal GM issues. I happen to have a SBC 377 that dynoed at over 525 hp with a full roller but I would convert it to an injection system I would put that in and the matching turbo 400 with a manual shift body and 3000 rpm converter. Then start working from there! Damned nice car!!

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Comet

    The seller may want all the money, however a California pedigree pushes up the price. They’re only original (mostly) once. 68-72 Nova’s have really seemed to appreciate in value lately. This Nova appears to be a well kept and honest car.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Lance Platt

    The 1972 Nova has a simple boxy style that has aged well. It has a V-8 originally rated at 165 horsepower and automatic transmission. The car is
    not too big and not too small so could be a daily driver in good weather or an entry level old car club cruiser. At the right price, this Chevy compact should find a good home.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo John B

    To make this Nova period-correct I would have to add these performance items to that Elderbrock camshaft: A Harley carb, Hocker headers, Morso hood scoop, Lackwood traction bars, Thrash mufflers, Kragger rims, Axle coil and a B&M steershifter! (Sorry folks…I’m having an old classified ads typo moment here.)

    Like 1

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