Junkyard Find: 1973 Chevrolet Nova Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Remember the early Nova hatchbacks? They didn’t sell very well, probably because the hatch cost $150 more ( $810 in 2011 dollars) than the Nova coupe with a traditional trunk. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, and I wouldn’t have noticed this one in my local self-service yard, had it not been for the sharp eyes of the Tetanus Neon LeMons team co-captains, visiting Denver from Houston and stopping at the junkyard on their way to the airport for some Neon throttle-body shopping.

This car, while reasonably rust-free, is probably too beat to have been worth restoring; while the Nova hatches of this era are rare, they aren’t worth enough to warrant pouring lots of money into a project car.

The 307 small-block-Chevy was the standard V8 available with the ’73 Nova, although there’s no telling how many engine swaps this car endured during its nearly four decades on the road.

This car was surrounded by a moat of icky, oily mud (Denver is in the grip of an unseasonably wet and humid July), so I wasn’t motivated to climb into (or under) the car and check for the presence of a Powerglide transmission. ’73 was the last year of the ol’ two-speed automatic in the Nova, which would make a Powerglide-equipped hatchback an interesting mix of 1950s transmission and 1980s body style.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Stefonivich Stefonivich on Apr 05, 2012

    I need that hatchback lid for my restore project. If anyone has one please let me know stefhent@yahoo.com

  • Kinsha Kinsha on May 02, 2012

    I bought a 74 nova in 1981 from an old lady who ordered it new. It had 42000 miles on it and was white with a hatchback and all black interior with bucket seats, and a console (auto). It was in perfect shape and cost me a whole 1600 dollars. I kept that car for 16 years clear into marriage and kids. Me and the wife use to take it to the drive-in and back it in and lay down in the hatch and watch the flick! I do have fond memories of that car. I use to have huge home speakers in the back of it hooked to a pioneer super tuner and an amp. Guess who always got invited to the outdoor partys! :-)

  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.