One of the most handsome Chevrolet show cars of the 1960s never made it to production in its original form, but it was influential all the same. Here’s a quick look at the 1964 Super Nova.
Introduced at the New York Auto Show in April of 1964, the Chevrolet Super Nova made a positive impression on the car show circuit and the enthusiast press that year. But despite the encouraging feedback, the Super Nova was almost totally overshadowed by the new Ford Mustang introduced nearly simultaneously. That doesn’t prevent us from circling back and taking a closer look.
The Super Nova that appeared before the public in the spring of ’64 was a faithful recreation of a full-scale clay produced in the styling studios of the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, directed by design VP Bill Mitchell. Styling elements of the Mitchell era's concept and production cars, including the 1965 Corvair, can be seen in the Super Nova. But to many, the design resembles a compact version of the 1963 Buick Riviera, one of Mitchell’s more memorable creations. And that’s an honest compliment.
Constructed in fiberglass like many GM show cars of the time, the Super Nova’s coupe body shell was seven inches long and six inches lower than a production Chevy II Nova and rode on the same 110-inch wheelbase chassis. The windshield was laid back at a 60-degree angle, while the rear greenhouse employed recessed glass and flying-buttress C-pillars like the production 1966 Chevelle Sport Coupe and its GM A-Body siblings.
The paint was Fire Frost Silver, a unique finish with high metallic content usually found on Cadillacs. And note there are no exterior door handles: The doors were operated by electric solenoids with buttons hidden in the window moldings, an old customizing gimmick. One slick package, the Super Nova, was also known as the Shark.
Although its size and proportions were similar to the Ford Mustang, the Super Nova did not contribute much, if anything, of its styling to the Camaro, Chevrolet’s Mustang competitor introduced in the fall of 1966. Chevrolet stepped away from the Super Nova’s elegant razor-edge theme and adopted a sportier look for its pony car. However, the sharp lines of the Super Nova design are easy to spot in the second-generation Chevy II Nova of 1966-1967 below. Even in frumpy four-door form, it’s a handsome compact car.
Images: General Motors Archive