Wagon Thursday(?): ’63 Chevy Nova Wagon

This post was originally written for, and may have appeared here, at hooniverse.com.

Yesterday, Kamil Kaluski wrote an entry on this very 1963 Nova wagon.  In that entry, he wrote, “Here is the thing; I like these cars, I appreciate these cars, but I don’t know anything about these cars. Much like Harleys, I don’t have much interest in cars like this wagon which is why I don’t write about them often.”

Now, as some of you know, I personally drive a 1963 Nova 400 station wagon – pretty much just like this one.  Well, it started out just like this one, but has since undergone many drivetrain/suspension mods.  So, since Kamil doesn’t have much interest in cars like this wagon, and I do, I will now offer a whole different perspective.

Hit it to get it.

[Source: Craigslist]

In 1960, Ford introduced its first compact car – the Falcon.  It was a market that only a few manufacturers had explored.  In the ’50s, America was riding high and wanted bigger and chromey-er cars.  Detroit obliged.  However, this left openings for companies like Nash and VW to sell cheap, economical transportation to the masses.  Seeing this segment as an opportunity for more sales, Ford designed the Falcon.  It was tiny by the standards of the day.  It was cheap, basic transportation that carried the Ford name.  Some 450,000 units were sold in 1960 alone.  Ford, indeed, had a better idea.

Chevrolet, having witnessed the smashing success of the Falcon, quickly began work on the Chevy II.  (Nova was an option package on the Chevy II until 1969, when all Novas became Novas.)  Only two years after the introduction of the Falcon, the Chevy II was introduced.  As was the case with Ford, the basic transportation Nova was a smash hit.  Chevrolet sold some 326,000 units in 1962.

The example in this ad is a 1963 station wagon 400 series with a 194 straight six and a two-speed Powerglide trans.  (Interesting aside: The aluminum case Powerglide transmission is a favorite among drag racers even today because they are light, use very minimal amounts of HP and can be built to handle ridiculous amounts of power.)  So, this was the nicest Nova station wagon available in 1963.  The 400 series option was mostly for dress.  Belt line trim, rocker trim, carpet, padded dashboard, and maybe even a power rear window were your rewards for checking this option box.

Basic Novas were offered with vinyl floors, steel dashboards, 4 cylinder 154 c.u. engines and three speed transmissions on the column, so this little gem was loaded.  Was it loaded enough to warrant a 5-figure asking price?  Maybe.  Let’s take a closer look.

Craigslist ads tend to have shitty photos and this one is no exception.  But from the photos and the description, we can tell a few things.  First of all, the seller doesn’t mind stretching the truth.  He states, “all original and in excellent condition”, then goes on to say the car has been repainted.  Also, he states, “this is a one (1) owner car that has always been garaged and never driven in Winter.”  Come on.  It’s never been driven in the winter?  One thing we’ve established about Novas is that they were basic transportation.  People don’t buy basic transportation cars then just leave them in the garage if ever it happens to snow.  It is possible that this car is really nice and solid, but never driven in winter?

Dubiousness aside, the car appears to be straight and clean.  It shows no sign, in the shitty craigslist photos, of suffering from rust.  The interior is nice as well.  On the flip side, the wheels are a disaster and the two-tone paint with the darker color on the roof is just odd.  The car is missing the chrome that belongs on the leading edge of the hood.  Finally, the tinted windows are out of place.

On the plus side, it has the full side trim package, which is my personal favorite Nova trim package ever offered.

So, my (know-it-all) verdict is that this car is overpriced by a few thousand, but that it is potentially a great car.  Further, the wagon version of the Nova seems to carry value better than all other Novas except the 2-door Super Sport coupe.

A final observation is that driving a Nova wagon will make you more likeable, more attractive, and more intelligent.  So weigh that when making your decision on whether the price tag is crack pipe worthy.

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