The memorable Chevy II Nova coupe was a real head turner!

By: Bruce Kunz

October 29th, 2017

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Old Car Column

The Chevy II (or “Chevy also” as I liked to call them) conjures up memories of m

y youth because, as a sophomore at McCluer High

School, I logged many a mile riding shotgun in a bright white Chevy II Nova Sport 2-door hardtop, or “sport coupe” as they were designated.

Bob Williamson, a future engineering student and one of the kids in the group I hung out with back “in the day,” drove a 1963 Chevy II Nova coupe, which his mom and dad purchased from Johnny Londoff Chevrolet. This miniature Chevy, which looked great with its lipstick red interior, was a real head t

urner when it pulled into the Steak ‘n’ Shake on N. Lindbergh, in Florissant. The resemblance to full-size Chevys was obvious in this scaled down model with its angular B-pillars and crisp chiselled body “character lines.” About the only thing missing was the triple tail lamp treatment, a trademark rear styling cue for full sized Chevrolets since 1958 (with the exception of 1959).

Bob was a fairly frugal guy and he had been saving his nickels and dimes for years, just waiting for the moment he turned 16 and could buy his own car from Johnny Londoff Chevrolet. Bob was one of two kids I knew that had his pilot’s license before he had his driver’s license. Once he reached the age of 16, the little Chevy II Nova was the shuttle that took us to one of many little air strips in St. Charles or Bethalto, so we could hop in a Cessna and take to the skies.

Chevy IIs were offered in three trim levels for 1963, the second year for the new compact. The entry level models were called the 100 series, followed by the 300 series and finally the Nova. Power for the 100 and 300 series was provided by a miserly 153 cubic inch in-line four, which eked out 90 brake horsepower. Fortunately, Bob’s dad wasn’t a penny pincher and opted for the dressier Nova with a standard in-line six under the hood … still a relatively economical power plant.

And, of course, economy was what it was all about in 1963 for gasoline prices had topped the 30-cent per gallon mark, for cryin’ out loud! While the six cylinder equipped Chevy II was not much of a contender on a Saturday night on Hall Street, it provided more than adequate power for this svelte, 2,600-pound package … more than enough to please my aunt Dorothy.

Bob’s Chevy II Nova carried a base factory price of $2,262 and with a modest selection of options (I don’t think Bob saved up enough to pop for the $317 Fridigaire A/C), he probably rolled out of Johnny Londoff, bill-of-sale in hand, for just under $2.500. According to the Old Cars Price Guide, if Bob wanted to relive those carefree days of the mid-60s, a No. 1, show quality Chevy II Nova 400 Sport Coupe could run as much as 10 times that figure in today’s collector market.

Thanks for reading the Old Car Column and Keep on Cruisin’!


Bruce Kunz, a.k.a. “THE FIN MAN,” is a member of the Society of Automobile Historians. If you love old cars and care about kids, visit thefinman.com.