A while back, we told you about the “Heavy Chevy” Chevelle, a sporty-looking trim package that added things like a blacked-out grille and hood pins. But Chevy didn’t stop at the Chevelle when it came to adding a go-fast appearance option to its lineup.

Enter the Chevy Rally Nova.

Rally Novas came in a handful of factory colors, with the obligatory stripe package. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Only available in 1971 and 1972, the Rally Nova package gave you SS style without the SS performance—and perhaps more importantly, without the Nova SS price and insurance premium.

The Rally Nova option was exclusively available on the coupe, and could not be ordered in conjunction with SS package’s 200 horsepower 350ci L48 V8 (though buyers could opt for the 165 hp 350).

In other words, it was all show with—maybe—a little bit of go.

1971 Chevy Rally Nova wheel
This car is sporting the traditional Chevy Rally wheels, but according to literature we found, Rally Novas originally came equipped with unique “Rally-type wheels with special center caps.” (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Similar to the aforementioned Heavy Chevy Chevelle, the Rally Nova’s go-fast look was accented by a unique stripe package, rally wheels, a blacked out grille and rear panel, and body-colored sport mirror on the driver’s side. But the Rally Nova kit also meant that other options were eliminated, like some external brightwork and other shiny accents.

There was a small vestige of performance included in the Rally Nova package too, in the form of an upgraded heavy duty suspension.

If you like under-the-radar GM performance cars, you’ll probably appreciate this story: Pontiac’s Sleeping Goat, the GT-37.

1971 Chevy Rally Nova, Rear Driver Side

We spotted this particular 1971 Rally Nova at the recent 2023 Goodguys Summit Racing Nationals. It is impeccably clean…

…but far from stock.

Remember how we said the Rally Nova couldn’t be ordered with any serious performance engine options? Well, someone remedied that by stuffing in a glorious 454 Chevy big block under the hood.

From what we could tell, it’s mated to a TH400 transmission, but alas we couldn’t track down the car’s owner to get the full scoop.

1971 Chevy Rally Nova, driver side quarter
This Rally Nova has been tastefully modified, namely under the hood where a 454 big block now resides. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

This specific car is also missing the Sport Mirror and the unique wheels that original came with the Rally Nova, so we’re not sure if it began life as a Rally Nova or is now a tastefully-done tribute car.

But it doesn’t matter to us—it’s super clean and all sorts of amazing, either way.

1971 Chevy Rally Nova 454 big block in engine bay
Since a 396 big block was, at one time, a factory Nova option, we’re guessing the impressively clean 454 motor swap here was pretty straightforward. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Third gen. Rally Nova production ran from 1971 to 1972, with a little over 40,000 Rally Novas produced out of the 400,000+ total Chevy Nova models made during that timespan.

So seeing any Rally Nova is a rare example of a budget-friendly car with gobs of go-fast style—just don’t tell the insurance folks about the 454 lurking under this one’s hood!

1971 Chevy Rally Nova, front quarter


Update! An intrepid reader pointed out that we had overlooked the brief appearance of the “Nova Rally” package on the fourth-gen. Nova X-body platform. Produced from 1977 to 1979, the Nova Rally replaced the SS trim as the “sporty” variant of the Nova. Clicking the Rally box on the option sheet got you a different grille than a stock Nova, along with an upgraded dash cluster, a special stripe/badge package, and Rally-style wheels.

Sadly, the Nova name disappeared after 1979, only to return briefly on a front-wheel drive platform in 1985, before vanishing entirely in 1988.

The fourth generation Nova welcomed a “Nova Rally” package as the X-body enjoyed its Swan Song in the late 1970s. (Image/Public Domain)

1971 Chevy Rally Nova, Rear Passenger Side

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.