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Thread: Chevrolet Nova (3rd Gen) 1985-1988

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    Chevrolet Nova (3rd Gen) 1985-1988

    The Chevrolet Nova nameplate returned in spring 1984 as a front-wheel drive subcompact vehicle produced from 1985 to 1988. It was assembled in Fremont, California by NUMMI, a joint venture between General Motors in the U.S. and Toyota of Japan. It resurrected a name last used on the compact-class rear-drive 1979 Chevrolet Nova. The new Nova was a rebadged and mildly restyled Japanese market Toyota Sprinter, a model sold in Japan as a badge engineered version of the Toyota Corolla. Nova shared the Corolla's AE82 platform, 1.6 L (98 cu in) 4-cylinder engines and was available with 5-speed manual, 3-speed or 4-speed automatic transmissions. The 1985 Chevrolet Nova was initially offered only in a four-door sedan body style and in the Midwestern states. A five-door hatchback was added shortly after its introduction, and the line was distributed throughout the US and Canada beginning around traditional new-model introduction time in the fall (as were the other Chevy imports, the Suzuki based Sprint which had been first launched on the West Coast and the Isuzu based Spectrum which had initially been available on the Eastern Seaboard and throughout New England and New York State). The only engine was a carbureted 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 74 horsepower (55 kW). It teamed with either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. This was the same powertrain as offered in the Corolla. The four-door sedan listed for $7,435, a rather stiff tariff by Chevrolet standards. The five-door, which added a split-folding rear seat, started at $7,669. Corresponding Corollas cost a couple hundred dollars less. All Nova options were grouped into seven packages, which did away with the long list of optional equipment that accompanied such cars as the Chevrolet Chevette. (Simple though it was, the subcompact Chevette offered nearly 30 options). However, adding one of the costlier packages could easily push the Nova's sticker to over $10,000.

    The 1987 Chevrolet Nova saw only minor changes after its introduction two years earlier as a near-twin to the front-wheel-drive Toyota Corolla. A rear-window defogger was added to the list of standard equipment, while visual changes were limited to lighter silver highlights on the vertical grille bars and a change of turn signal lens colors from amber to clear/white front and red rear. CL models also got red reflex panels carrying the taillights onto the trunk/hatch, body-colored bumpers, and new aluminum wheels. The 1987 Chevrolet Nova continued in two body styles, a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. The four-door proved by far the more popular - by about three to one. Nova's only engine was again a 74-horsepower 1.6-liter four designed by Toyota, mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic. Though Corollas were priced slightly below competing Novas, Chevy's version of the car could often be bought for less because slow sales encouraged dealers to discount prices. "Slow sales," however, meant slow by Chevy standards, for the Nova sold about as well as the Corolla. Aside from some minor interior and exterior trim differences, the cars were much the same, though Novas had a slightly softer suspension that favored ride over handling.

    The 1988 Chevrolet Nova added a sporty model to its lineup of subcompact front-wheel-drive cars. This new 1988 Chevrolet Nova Twin-Cam got its name from a double-overhead-cam version of the Toyota-built 1.6-liter four-cylinder found in other Novas. Novas continued to share their basic design with the Corolla, and this engine had previously been used in the Toyota FX-16, a performance version of the Corolla. The twin-cam produced 110 hp (82 kW), 36 more than its single-cam sibling. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, as in the regular Novas, but the Twin-Cam offered a four-speed automatic as an option versus the three-speed offered on other models. The more potent engine elevated the 1988 Chevrolet Nova Twin-Cam into junior sport-sedan terri­tory, but the advancement didn't come cheaply. The base Nova listed at about $8,800, the Twin-Cam went for $11,395. That price included fuel injection, sport suspension, power steering, leather-covered steering wheel, tachometer, four-wheel disc brakes, and wider tires on aluminum wheels, but it was a stiff tariff, and few were ordered (approximately 3,300 Twin-Cam models were built). There were no color choices; all 1988 Chevrolet Nova Twin-Cams wore black metallic paint with a grey interior; and there was no hatchback version offered. Every 1988 Chevrolet Nova got rear shoulder belts, rear window defogger, and AM/FM stereo radio as standard equipment. This was the last model year for the Nova name at Chevrolet. Starting with 1989, Chevrolet pushed this car into its new Geo division and renamed it the Prizm. Geo was Chevy's effort to come up with an import-sounding label to attract buyers who were not inclined to shop American.

    The last one rolled off the assembly line on August 18, 1988

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