The 1971 Chevy Nova SS was one of the smallest muscle cars to be manufactured by Detroit. The SS designation stands for “Super Sport” which basically included high-performance tires, heavy-duty suspension, and more power plus additional add-ons and upgrades.
First appearing in 1962 as Chevy II, GM’s answer to Ford Falcon, this pocket dynamo packed a real punch what with a 350cid V8. Only 7,000 of Novas with the SS badge were manufactured.
All engines after 1971 model year featured lowered compression ratios to enable the use of unleaded gasoline as a result of a GM corporate mandate that took effect with the 1971 model year. Other results of the federal meddling were the placement of side marker lights, the incorporation of rear window defogger, dual-circuit brakes and impact-absorbing steering.
Standard features of the ’71 model were front armrests, antitheft steering wheel-column lock, ignition key alarm system, and wide-profile, bias belted, white-lettered E70x14 tires. The Nova’s shell would last for 11 years and was shared with Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac.
Options for the Nova were Sportmag five-spoke alloy, air-conditioning and center console. The two- or four-barrel 350cid V8 ran on regular fuel and pushed out 245 and 270 horsepower respectively. Also, for the 1971 model, the option of a four-cylinder block was withdrawn because of low demand.
1971 Novas were similar to the previous year. The 396 cu in (6.49 L) engine was replaced with the 350 cu in (5.7 L) in the SS model. 1971 also saw the introduction of the Rally Nova, a trim level that only lasted two years (until it resurfaced in 1977). The Rally kit included black or white stripes that ran the length of the car and around the back, a Rally Nova sticker on the driver’s side of the hood, Rally wheels, multi-leaf rear springs, and a “sport” body colored driver’s side mirror that was adjustable from the interior.
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.
The 250 cu in (4.1 L) six-cylinder engine was now the standard Nova engine with the demise of the 153 cu in (2.51 L) four-cylinder and 230 cu in (3.8 L) six-cylinder engines. The 307 cu in (5.03 L) and 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8s were carried over from 1970 and all engines featured lowered compression ratios to enable the use of unleaded gasoline as a result of a GM corporate mandate that took effect with the 1971 model year.
The 1979 Chevrolet Nova marked the end of the line for the rear-wheel-drive Nova. The last Nova rolled off the assembly line on August 18, 1988.
1971 Chevy Nova SS Specs
Production 7,016 (1971)
Body Style Two-door, five-seater coupe.
Engine 350cid V8.
Power Output 245-270 bhp.
Transmission Three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual, or three-speed automatic.