Frame Off Restored California Nova SS 350 M20 4 Speed
- Original California car
- Numbers matching
- 350ci V8 (300hp)
- Muncie M20 4-speed
- 12-bolt posi / 3.31 gears
- Power steering / brakes
One of Chevrolet's advertisements for the 1969 Nova SS showed the front of the car with a simple statement – “The Sleeper Awakes”. The car shared a lot of hardware with the Camaro, had plenty of hot engine choices and, to this day, remains a favorite with drag racers. Thanks to that appeal, correct examples are getting harder and harder to find making cars like this rotisserie restored, numbers matching '69 Nova SS even more appealing. This California car has had just three owners and retains all of its best traits such as the original 350ci V8, Muncie M20, and 12-bolt rear end. This SS comes fully backed by its original Protect-O-Plate, a full registration history, and plenty of additional information that underscore exactly why this car is so special.
We'll get started by covering the trim tag highlights:
• 69: 1969
• 11427: Chevrolet Nova 2-door V8
• WRN: Willow Run, MI assembly plant
• 223XXX: Sequence number
• 733: Black vinyl bucket seats
• 59: Frost Lime exterior
• 12B: Scheduled for build during the second week of December 1968
And some important pieces from the Protect-O-Plate:
• V1007HA: 300hp 350ci V8 assembly in Flint Michigan for use in a 4-speed A, F, or X body
• P9S26: Muncie 4-speed assembly on November 26th
Some cars are more fortunate than others and this Nova SS is definitely one of the lucky ones. Originally purchased at Eddie Hopper Chevrolet in Garden Grove, California, the car remained with its original owner from 1969 all the way to 1997 when it was taken off the road. In April of 2004, the car traded hands for the first time and, by December of the same year, had its third and current owner – not a bad track record for a 44-year-old Chevrolet. If you're a fan of Nova styling, it's hard not to be taken with this fully restored example. The original code 59 Frost Green Lime was exchanged for a coat of Garnet Red but, otherwise, returning everything to OEM specifications was clearly the priority. Body quarter panels were replaced during the rotisserie restoration, but the sheet metal is original otherwise. It's hard to find fault with the body work and the bright red paint set against the black vinyl top offer a pleasing contrast that make the normally-thrifty Nova look a little more adventurous.
Chevrolet used a light hand when it came to Nova ornamentation, but everything present lives up to the same high standards set by the body work. To the front of the car an SS badge takes front and center on a black grille framed with round headlights in square bezels. Below, a show ready chrome bumper leaves room for square turning lights on either side of two rectangular cutouts. Above the grille, an SS hood with twin chrome louvers hints at the car's performance potential, backed up by the “350” badges at the corners of the front fenders. Below the Nova script to the rear of the fender, simulated vents add an aggressive touch. Up top, clean factory glass is surrounded by nearly flawless trim work with bowtie-badged rear view mirror to the front of the driver side vent window. Follow the sloped C-pillars back towards a black taillight panel that sits between rectangular taillights above another show quality chrome bumper. The decklid features a right-justified “Nova by Chevrolet” badge, giving other drivers a little insight as to what just passed them.
Power options for the '69 Nova worked up from the rare Iron Duke 4-cylinder all the way to a big block. This example checks in near the top of the options list with the SS-standard 350ci Turbo-Fire V8 that GM rated at 300hp. The block is original to the car as shown by a correct 3932386 casting number, a J (September) 5 (5th) 8 (1968) date code, a matching VIN derivative, and a HA suffix code that verifies the engine was assembled as a 300hp unit mated to a 4-speed transmission. The block is dressed in traditional Chevrolet orange and topped by pieces like its original 'camel back' heads, a correct intake, and a proper Rochester Quadrajet carburetor up top. The accessory drive spins a limited list of hardware that includes a factory power steering pump, alternator, and a single fan that works alongside an OEM-style radiator to keep everything cool. Exhaust exits through correct exhaust manifolds into a pristine dual exhaust system that recreates factory work down to the transverse muffler. From the appropriately decaled air cleaner assembly to the zinc plated brake booster, every piece carries an air of authenticity that adds up to one great presentation.
That attention to detail continues underneath the car where pristine pans dressed in satin black set the stage for an impressive show of hardware. In the center, the original Muncie M20 is housed in a 660 case stamped with a P (Muncie) 9 (1969) S26 (November 26th) A (M20) and a matching partial VIN. That 4-speed channels power back to an original 3894860NF 12-bolt posi rear with versatile 3.31 gears. The suspension is stock with double A-arms, spiral shocks, and a sway bar up front, but the leaf spring rear has been updated with manually adjustable air shocks. The components show very little wear, adding to the overall cleanliness of the undercarriage. The suspension is further aided by a factory power steering setup that pairs with power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes for a surprisingly modern driving experience. At the rear, the stainless exhaust system exits at either side of a new stainless fuel tank that rounds out the package. Firestone Wide Oval red line tires connect the chassis to road, wrapped around a clean set of 14x7 Rally wheels completed by Chevrolet Motor Division center caps and reflective beauty rings.
While the Nova may have made its name as an economical car, the correct 733 black vinyl bucket interior feels anything but cheap. Swing open the doors and be greeted by bright Fisher Body door sills that hide the edges of rich black carpeting. The door jambs are finished nicely, continuing the quality paint and body work started outside. Seating is provided by a pair of vinyl seats trimmed in black vinyl while, below, a partial center console allows just enough room for the chrome shifter and supplemental gauges. Hop into the driver's seat for a front-row view of the stock dash which features a correct 7,000 rpm tachometer and clock on either side of the horizontal speedometer. Controls for accessories like lights and wipers are within easy reach as is the original AM radio which resides just to the right of the steering column. Control over the front wheels is offered by a two-spoke SS-badged steering wheel while metal-trimmed pedals feed the clutch, brake, gas, and emergency brake. The door panels have a great original look and the taut black headliner finished the roof of in style. Peak under the decklid to find a simple trunk space completed by a mat, tools, and a full-size spare.
Documentation for this car is exactly what you would hope for when buying any original muscle car. It begins with a warranty booklet that has the original Protect-O-Plate attached. That's an important piece as it further verifies that all the major pieces are correct and original to the car. From there, the original 30-day tag is included while ownership history is shown through over a decade of registrations and hand-written notes. Finally, page after page of technical information covers the equipment found on the car, ensuring everything is as it should be.
With the Nova's popularity among hot rodders, It's rare enough to see a stock spec Nova, let alone one this nice. With a stalwart 350ci V8 and the great Muncie 4-speed to row through the gears with, this Nova offers a highly authentic driving experience and the chance to own numbers matching GM muscle without sacrificing both kids' college funds. If you're looking for a different kind of muscle car, this 1969 Nova SS might be the perfect option for your garage.