1988 Chevrolet Nova 1.6L from North America


Best $800 I spent!


This car was purchased used, and needed repairs at that time - front CV boot, rear struts replaced, and some seals (don't remember which). The headliner fabric had long been removed. Neither the heater nor air conditioning worked when I got it, I had the heater replaced when winter hit, and the fuel pump at the same time as it had started leaking.

After a year of hard driving, the car failed pretty catastrophically in the last month. A head gasket cracked, the water pump was leaking, radiator would leak all of its coolant every week, something else was leaking oil (forget what now). My mechanic told me that if I wanted to keep it, I'd have to replace the engine. Much as I would have liked to have her fixed up, we scrapped her.

General Comments:

The car was driven harder than it deserved, but it was purchased to make cross-country trips to visit a sick family member - it drove from Eastern Washington to Vancouver, BC (and once all the way to Kamloops, BC) several times in the span of the year we had it, in all manner of weather, which of course meant driving over Snoqualmie Pass.

The car cost me $800 to buy, including the initial repairs. I thought it was a steal. It wasn't a pretty or terribly comfortable car, but for whatever reason I fell in love with it, and I was awful sad when I had to junk it. It ran way better than I expected given the age and miles when I bought it, and more than paid for itself given the number of times it got me to Vancouver BC, as it was very good on gas (and plane tickets are spendy!).

The car did exactly what I wanted - it got me to see my sick family member regularly, cheaper than flying, and held together as long as I needed it. I highly recommend it and would get another as my college commuter car if I saw one! I would also be a lot kinder to it - I think it would have run a lot longer if it hadn't been so stressed.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th April, 2010

11th Jul 2012, 19:05

A simple head gasket job would have fixed it for another 150k miles. You just have to have the head machined to "do it right". That shop did you no favor. It's only a 5-600 dollar repair with an honest shop.


11th Jan 2017, 05:17

Hands down, the best Nova that Chevrolet ever sold.

1988 Chevrolet Nova from North America


Excellent car!


The exhaust rusted out a few times.

Other than that, this car ran like a top.

General Comments:

This was my first car. I beat the thing to death too. It just would not stop running. I delivered pizza in it for about a year until I crashed it. Unfortunately they could not find the body parts to fix it so it was totaled.

If I could find another one around, I would not hesitate to buy it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th November, 2008

1988 Chevrolet Nova 1.6 4A-LC Nummi from North America


Hook, line, and sinker; or is it performance, reliability, and economy?


Needed to replace all three carb. gaskets.

Both drive axles fried.

Brakes failed.

Headliner is falling.

Front fender panels have come loose (botched fix from previous owner's accident).

Required new muffler.

Fuel gauge is a bit weird above a half-full tank.

General Comments:

This Nova was purchased last year (2007, as written) with 216,000 miles (if you didn't feel like reading the specs), for a tidy sum of only $150. It was spared from a crusher in a scrapyard.

As purchased, it would run for only six seconds after one would turn the key. Fortunately, I'm a student at the local Vocational Technical School, where I work on automobiles as part of my education. The problem, as it was diagnosed, was that all three carb gaskets were absolutely done. When the carb was lifted, one gasket cracked into about 6 pieces and fluttered off with the breeze. The three gaskets were purchased for only $6.37. After installation, and all 14 hoses to the carb were on, I hit the key and prayed. Life!

The car as a general rule needed a lot of TLC to get it running efficiently again. The car as it sits now runs beautifully well, attaining average mpg in the neighbourhood of 35 (counting stretching the gears out when giving her a good flog, which is rather often).

Not that we haven't had our problems. Horror stories include having a drive axle go out 20 miles from home, and having to limp the rest of the way on the remaining axle to the local mechanic (my neighbour) where upon pulling into the bay, that shaft decided to give up the ghost as well.

Had the brakes fail on me on a 13% downhill grade. Thank God for engine braking. I hate to be in any way, shape, or form sexist... but the college chick that had this car before me had no idea of routine maintenance.

The exhaust actually fell off--in front of a cop. Nothing happened, but the car had a nice mean growl until a new muffler was purchased.

At rather high speeds, the fenders begin flapping like the wings of a hopeful penguin.

The performance is rather snappy for a car of this age and lack of motivational power. The five-speed manual still shifts well, with a pleasing *snick-snick* between gates. The clutch fits my driving style perfectly. Often the car feels more like an extension of the body with how absolutely raw it is. Which is a great thing, if you're into Spartan un-assisted driving. I've topped out somewhere north of 120 mph in the car, with no modifications other than tinkering with the carb a bit. It's kept up well with freeway traffic, (using third as the passing gear from 45-75 mph) often feeding crow to the local idiots and their riced out crapboxes. It exhibits a sharp no-nonsense form of handling on the backroads, but when provoked can exhibit a drift-friendly attitude. A true driving machine if there ever was one. Parts are cheap and the car is immensely reliable. Oil consumption... any fluid consumption, is small in this car.

If I were to change anything about it, I'd say that the factory wheels should have been an inch larger in diameter to give it a bit more serious stance. The factory speakers are kinda hopeless, as well. And the Toyota rust problem... Other than that, I honestly can't complain. The car has more than served it's purpose and paid for itself times over. Mission accomplished GM/Toyota.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd July, 2007

22nd Jul 2007, 13:34

Nice trouble shooting job on the carb. gaskets. I am not sure how you managed to drive it home with a bad drive axle though. I am assuming the transaxle has an open differential, which would mean the bad axle would just spin and the car would go nowhere, assuming it was completely gone. Maybe it was not "completely" gone, but just hanging on for dear life. You were still very lucky to get home in any event.

I cannot stand Toyota's (Chevy Nova), but will admit that vintage Corolla/Nova is from a time when they still made a good cars, except for them rusting away before the owner's eyes. You should still get some good service out of it with proper care. Good luck with it.

2nd Nov 2008, 15:51

I just got an 88 Nova and I love it. It has a small problem with rust on the rear wheel cylinders. I am having problems replacing em without destroying the whole assembly. My car was undercoated; no rust except for the outer extremities. Good luck!