1969 Nova SS 396
Emerging from Chevy’s classic compact, the 1969 Nova SS 396 proved to be a potent muscle car without a flashy package. It may not have looked like much, but this classic from GM is one of the fastest cars from the classic muscle car era, thanks to clever engineering, a perfect weight ratio, and a powerful engine.
Originally called the Chevy II, the Nova first made the scene in 1962 and was a top-of-the-line compact produced by the brand until 1988 with a brief hiatus in the early ‘80s. The 1969 Nova SS 396 was a member of the third generation, which received a redesign that included a longer wheelbase. This put the compact at just an inch shorter than the mid-sized Chevelle. The 1969 Nova SS 396 originated with the 1968 model, when Chevy introduced the Super Sport performance package for its now bigger compact.
Although it was just barely a compact, the 1969 Nova SS 396 was the smallest muscle car to come out of the U.S. car market. The Super Sport Nova came with a 295-horsepower, 350-cubic inch V8 engine, but for those who really wanted a fast care, the optional 396-cubic engine was the only choice. It was rated at 350-horsepower, but could go up to 375 with the L78 engine.
In addition to the powerful, 396-cubic inch engine, the 1969 Nova SS 396 came with a heavy duty suspension system, power front discs, fast-ratio power steering, SS and 396 badges, hood air in takes, a black-accented grille, and a weight ratio that put just over half of its weight on the front axle, a balance unmatched by other muscle cars.
The 1969 Nova SS 396 may not have been as flashy as other muscle cars. It may not have advertised its power and speed as well as the rest of the breed, but it ran many of them and now is a fantastic collector’s car.