Junkyard Find: 1987 Chevrolet Nova Sedan
The fifth-gen Chevy Nova was built at California’s NUMMI plant for the 1985 through 1988 model years, prior to becoming the Geo and then the Chevrolet Prizm. The Nova was really a rebadged AE82 Corolla, and so most of them managed to survive into the turn of the 21st century. By now, however, a NUMMI Nova is a rare sight; we saw a trustifarian ’87 hatchback in California last winter, and now this well-preserved sedan has appeared in a Denver self-service yard.
Just over 100,000 miles on the clock, which comes out to a mere 4,000 miles per year. The car doesn’t have That Distinctive Dust-and-Rodent-Whizz Smell™ that usually accompanies cars that sat for decades before getting scrapped, so perhaps this was just an around-town transport appliance that was driven very sparingly. Or maybe it spun a rod bearing in 1994 and has spent the last 18 years in a climate-controlled garage.
One difference between the Nova and the Corolla is the Delco stereo that went into the Chevrolet. In 1988, Novas and Corollas went down the same assembly line together at NUMMI.
Another example of the workhorse 4A engine, which powered everything from AE86 Corollas to MR2s.
Like the Corollas we dread renting today, this was a perfectly competent refrigerator-white vehicle with bland semi-comfortable interior and a low Fun Quotient. Still, a significant piece of automotive history.
Chevrolet’s marketers made the connection between the ’77 Nova (of the same sort that I once drove) and the ’87 in this ad. The tone of the ad is (non-GTS-grade) Corolla soporific, which seems appropriate.
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This was my first car! I'm a real young guy (turning 21 in July) and I didn't get my license until I was 18. Back in summer 2011, after unsuccessful Craigslist searches, we found a solid little 1987 Nova 4 door literally in someone's driveway for a thousand bucks. It was a solid little car...sorta. The engine was reliable...once you got it pumped up and started,it had an okay automatic transmission, the doors all worked, the lights all worked...but it had already gotten a pretty decent case of the tin worm. And, despite having factory air conditioning, the previous owner had removed the compressor. Fast forward a bit more than a year, and I was noticing a strange clattering noise from somewhere under the car. Sure enough, on the way home from a grocery trip, I lost all power to the front wheels. Transmission had gone dead, clearly the clattering I had heard was various transmission components turning into metallic mulch. It was so sad watching the little blue block get hoisted up onto the flatbed...but it would have cost at least a thousand bucks to fix up. Now I drive a 1995 Buick Skylark coupe with the 3100 V6 and a beat up interior.
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