The Nova had its beginning as the compact Chevy II, offering “maximum functionalism with thrift.” The Chevy II styling and mechanical capabilities was not much to write about. Since Chevy was big on “C” named cars, the name “Nova” lost the bidding war and became instead an option package. The first generation models included 4-door sedans, station wagons, 2-door hardtops, and convertibles. It had a semi-unitized body on which the front section bolted onto the single cabin/trunk section.
Chevy II was initially introduced with four series and five body styles: The 100 Series, 200 Series – which was quickly dropped, the 300 Series, and the Nova 400 Series, the muscle car predecessor. It offered two engine options: a 153 four cylinder and a 194 straight-6. A V8 engine became available for Nova 400 as a dealer-installed option between 1962 and 1963. It included the same fuel-injected version that was available on the Corvette and was very popular with drag racers. Be advised that the fuel used by drag racers is known as Top Fuel or “nitromethane” and is extremely combustible. So explosive in fact that it was part of the mix used in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The 1963 Chevy II Nova Super Sport was introduced as Regular Production Order Z03 but was only available on the Nova 400 Series sport coupe and the convertible but the engine was still only a V6. The introduction of the Chevelle in 1964 dinged sales of the Chevy II but Chevy eventually released it with a factory installed optional V8 with a horsepower rating of 195 horsepower. Although Chevy omitted the hardtop coupe from its 1964 lineup, it released it later in the same year as a Sport Coupe.
1965 realized poor sales for the Chevy II Nova and was the only car in the GM corral to experience a loss. Even with enhancements to styling, Chevy offered the entry level 100 Series, mid-level 300 Series, and the Nova 400. The Nova SS was released as a 2-door sport couple only with a brushed chrome console; standard 3-speed column mounted transmission, optional floor mounted 4-speed manual transmission, or Powerglide automatic transmission; vinyl bucket seats; dashboard gauges. Engine choices were either a 6 cylinder or V8, a 327 cubic inch V8 rated for up to 300 horsepower and the 283 rated for 220 horsepower and dual exhaust. The 100 Series Chevy II was available only with a 4 cylinder engine.