National Astronomy Day is May 18th this year—so let’s do a little bit of Detroit-style stargazing and take a peek at what recently rolled into the Summit Racing parking lot.

And we need to grab our telescopes for a close look here too, because if we’re being honest, we’re not entirely sure this car is a Nova or simply a Chevy II.

Nova: A star that experiences a sudden outburst of radiant energy, temporarily increasing its luminosity by hundreds to thousands of times before fading back to its original luminosity.

NASA’s “Imagine the Universe” Dictionary
rear view of a vintage chevy ii nova gasser
Some of the car’s trim and badging has been removed and, combined with the rest of the modifications, makes it difficult to pin a precise year on this classic Chevy. That said, the taillights here indicate this is likely a 1962-64 model. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

Given its mild gasser treatment, we could very likely be staring at one of the more austere Chevy II models here. That’s because, at this point in the GM X-body timeline, the Nova moniker denoted the top trim level on the Chevy II compact.

In other words, all Novas are Chevy IIs, but not all Chevy IIs are Novas—make sense?

You could get the Nova trim on coupes, sedans, and wagons during this era, so even with some missing brightwork and emblems, this could be a true Nova after all. (If you know for sure, let us hear about it in the comments section at the bottom of this article.)

Close up of headlight bezel on a vintage chevy ii nova gasser
Chevy II or Nova aside, 1962 to 1965 models had a distinct headlight and grille design. In 1966, the Chevy II got a gorgeous makeover before GM overhauled its entire X-body platform in 1968. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

Not that it matters much because again—this Chevy is far from stock.

And considering we heard it coming about a mile before it got our local Summit Racing Retail Store, we bet this beast is a serious street/strip machine.

close up of wheel on a vintage Chevy ii nova gasser
Stock Novas of this era came with four-lug hubs, so the five-lug conversion here hints at a rear axle upgrade. The chromed steelies are just icing on the hot rod cake here. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

For starters, that stance is a street-friendly take on a gasser setup. A lifted front end with a beam axle is the hallmark of a drag car with some period-correct suspension modifications to improve weight transfer during hard launches at the track. A healthy set of lift shackles out back complete the look.

We can’t help but notice the Hurst Equipped emblem on the rear decklid either, which adds more street cred to this Chevy’s go-fast resume. A peek inside the cockpit confirms it, thanks to a floor-shifted Hurst four-speed.

(Image/OnAllCylinders - Patrick Miller)
A dash-mounted Sun tach and foot-shaped gas pedal are delightful finishing touches for this retro street machine. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)

Alas, we couldn’t track down the Chevy’s owner to get the scoop on what’s under the hood. But given how well thought-out the rest of this build is, we’re guessing it’s an excellent complement to its dragstrip vibe.

At any rate, you can put away your star charts and astrolabes now, because regardless of whether it’s a Chevy II or a Nova, this stellar hot rod easily deserves its place as one of our Lot Shots features.

front view of a vintage Chevy II Nova gasser
Pre-dating the Pro Stock class, the front-end lift is an old drag racer’s tactic to improve weight transfer under hard acceleration. Though the technique has been replaced by modern suspension designs nowadays, the gasser look is still a beloved sight at car shows and dragstrips. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Patrick Miller)
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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.