Junkyard Find: 1973 Chevrolet Nova Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1973 chevrolet nova hatchback

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.






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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! :-)

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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