As it turned out, 1964 brought both good news and bad news for the 1964 Chevrolet Chevy II.
First, the good news: Chevy's 195-bhp, 283-cubic-inch V-8 ($107.70) and four-speed manual transmission were new factory options for all 1964 Chevy IIs, as were Positraction and sintered metallic brake linings.
For two years, enthusiasts had been clamoring for a V-8 "II," so finally "Nova SS" would really mean something. Except that there was no Nova SS! That was the bad news.
In a classic example of one hand not knowing what the other was doing, Chevrolet canceled all 1964 Nova hardtops and ragtops because it was felt they intruded too much into the new Chevelle's price territory. The 1964 Chevy II V-8 was a great performer, but it was available only in Series 100 or Nova sedans and wagons.
The 300 series -- and along with it Chevy II's only three-seat wagon -- was discontinued. One small consolation: the Nova two-door sedan was back after a one-year absence, a "sort-of" replacement for the hardtop. Other changes for 1964 included self-adjusting brakes and a very minor trim reshuffling -- it takes an expert to spot the changes from 1963. In addition, front-seat belts became standard on cars built after January 1,1964.
Bowing to pressure from enthusiasts, in early 1964 Chevrolet reinstated the Nova Sport Coupe and the Nova Super Sport Coupe. The convertible, sadly, got no reprieve. Popular Mechanics commented on this encouraging turn of events in a 1964 "Detroit Listening Post" column: "Speaking of comebacks, Chevy II pulled a strange one recently when Chevrolet Division announced the revival of the Nova hardtop sports coupe, which had been dropped from the lineup for 1964."
"It seems that the public didn't agree with Chevrolet marketing experts who felt that Corvair and Chevelle would overlap Chevy II," the article continued. "In fact, word was around the industry that Chevrolet execs were intent on phasing out the Chevy II altogether. But, the brass had done their work too well, if not wisely. Buyer demand, relayed through dealers, brought the Chevy II hardtop back. It seems the car is good and the price is right."
Throughout the rest of the 1964 model year, demand for Super Sport Novas was brisk -- especially for the four-barrel 220-horsepower 283 V-8 that had also been announced at mid-year. Motor Trend tested the milder 195-bhp, two-barrel SS with Powerglide, recording 0 to 60 in 11.3 seconds, 18.0 seconds and 75 mph in the quarter-mile, and 100 mph all out.
Fuel economy ranged from 12.3 mpg in heavy traffic to 19.6 on the highway. Motor Trend concluded that "By adding a V-8 and bigger brakes, plus detail changes, Chevrolet has made a nice compact even more desirable and a much better performer."
Not surprisingly, however, the beautifully styled, all-new Chevelle Malibu drew buyers away from the Chevy II. Model year production was down to 191,691, including 10,576 Nova Super Sport Coupes -- way behind the Falcon's 300,762 assemblies. Engine installations broke down as follows: 25,083 V-8s, 165,487 sixes, and just 1121 fours.
How would the Chevy II rebound for 1965? Find out on the next page.
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