1971 Chevrolet Nova

The 1971 Chevrolet Nova 2-door Coupe, part of the 1971 Chevrolet Nova line.
The 1971 Chevrolet Nova two-door coupe
outsold the four-door sedan .

The 1971 Chevrolet Nova was unavailable with a four-cylinder engine, a first for Chevy’s compact car. The new subcompact Vega introduced for 1971 took over that end of the powertrain spectrum for Chevrolet, so Nova moved to a more responsive six-cylinder engine -- 250-cubic-inch and 145 horsepower -- as standard fare.

Apart from that powertrain shift and installation of new Power-Beam headlights, little changed for the 1971 Chevrolet Nova.

Ads referred to the 1971 Nova as "America's not-too-small, not-too-big car," and in a slap at the cramped new subcompact breed, noted that Nova coupes seated five adults and sedans six.

Six-cylinder Novas could get Chevy's ill-fated clutchless Torque-Drive semi-automatic transmission. This transmission was also used in the Vega, but only 2,992 were installed in Novas.

The 1971 Chevrolet Nova coupe could be dressed up with a custom interior and exterior trim package and also with Super Sport equipment. The SS group included a 270-horsepower 350-cubic-inch V-8 engine, plus black accenting, a sport suspension with E70x14 tires, and appropriate SS badging. With the muscle-car years now in the past, the 350 was the largest V-8 engine available in the Nova.

The coupe proved to be the most popular 1971 Nova model, and many of them carried the 307-cubic-inch V-8 engine, rated at a useful 200 horsepower.

The well-hyped Vega stole sales from the Nova this year, but the compact soon would enjoy a resurgence of popularity that would last deep into the 1970s.

One reason is that Nova pleased a wide range of buyers looking for practical, sensible motoring. Even the coupe's appeal crossed many demographic lines, large enough for families, yet not so large as to seem "unnecessary" to young singles.

Older buyers thought the coupe's styling was appropriately conservative, while youth found the car's looks just rakish enough to be fashionable. And prices, which started at less than $2,400, were just right for most everybody.

Nova was a nice fit for a new era of escalating insurance rates and stringent federal standards for emissions and gas mileage. It gave Chevy a strong player able to go up against similarly "sensible" cars from other GM divisions, and from Ford and American Motors.

1971 Chevrolet Nova Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Nova
2,952-3,108
$2,376-$2,501
194,878 (approx.)

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