1988 Chevrolet Nova 1.4 from North America


Reliable, Gas-sipping sportster


Air conditioning quit being cold.

Lining fell down from ceiling.

Developed shaking at high speeds that could not be corrected by balancing, alignment, new axle cores, struts or other replacements.

General Comments:

Manual transmission is a breeze to use.

Gas mileage is around 50MPG hwy.

Very reliable, with most problems being routine wear or user error.

Love the power locks and cruise control options, but wish power windows also came with it.

Not much power going up a steep incline, especially when carrying weight.

Maneuvers like a sports car, not a four door sedan.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 15th April, 2007

1988 Chevrolet Nova 1.6 from North America


Economy + Reliability = '88 Chevy Nova


Exhaust pipe had rusted out. Typical with cars that age. I bought a patch kit -- legal in my state. It fixed the problem and quieted it up a bit.

Also, the original radio was dead when I bought it. I'm not sure if the previous owner killed it or if it was just its time to go...

General Comments:

I bought this on a salvage title for $700, and it was only considered a salvage because it'd been in an auto accident; the cost of repairing the cosmetic damage was higher than the value of the car. The guy I purchased it from was the original owner.

Air conditioner not only works, but runs cold.

The transmission is only a three speed, which worried me initially. With gas prices what they are, I wanted something economic. It hasn't let me down. My wife and I took it on a 1000 mile road trip (typically traveling ~80mph; I have a lead foot) and it averaged 32 miles to the gallon, and this is through the mountains with the air conditioner running. In the city its mpg fares a little worse, coming in around 27.

It does get noisy around 60mph - both from the engine and wind noise. And it shakes a bit, too. But it's proven to be reliable and safe.

I would love to have purchased a 5-speed manual. All three gears I have available are sluggish. It takes a bit to get going, but doesn't have a problem getting there if you have the patience. Top speed seems to max out around 90. Speedometer pegs out at 85.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th April, 2006

22nd Oct 2008, 16:42

I have a 88 Nova SOHC carburated, and I have never owned a finer 80's-mobile. Besides some cosmetics; headliner falling, some rust, and my trunk leaks slightly, I know more than the "average" person about cars, and I would give my Nova 2 thumbs way up.

I have to work on a gas leak now, though from the motor somewhere, I'm suspecting from others reviews that I might need some carb seals, but it is more than worth it!

8th Nov 2009, 16:36

I LOVE MY 88 Nova... I didn't think that you could run A/C through it. How'd did you rig that up? Or did it just come stock in yours?

1988 Chevrolet Nova Twin Cam 16v 1.6 EFI from North America


It's a total sleeper and very economical


It burns a little oil, 1 quart per thousand miles using 20/50 weight.

I replaced the driver's seat with one from a Nova CL, it has more adjustments and was in better shape.

All maintinance was past due when I got it. Brakes, shocks, belts and hoses.

General Comments:

This car is a very close cousin to a Corolla FX-16, a 3-door hatchback; both share the MR2 engine and manual Transmission. I haven't seen one with an auto transmission. The engine red lines at 7300 rpm and the high gear on the 5 speed puts me at 3900 rpm at 70 MPH, usually 4th will be 3500 rpm @ 70 mph and 5th would be overdrive. Oh well it's a little motor to be making 112 Horsepower.

I've only seen one other Twin Cam (Chevy's name on the fender), also black with a red pin stripe.

I've replaced the struts (4 KYB's), the originals at 120k were a little loose, but not bad yet. They were marked with Toyota and KYB part numbers.

I upgraded to performance (carbon/metallic, for street) brake pads, surfaced or replaced all rotors, upgraded to 14" MR2 wheels with 185/60X14 Michelins and reworked all the rubber on the sway bars front and rear. Yes, this jewel comes with factory sway bars, front shock tower bracing and four-wheel disk brakes just like the FX-16 and the MR2. Toyota also made a rear wheel drive corolla with this engine etc, the GTS.

I got mine around 120 k, it now has 178k miles, I've done the clutch, radiator, timing belt and all belts and hoses. Two O2 sensors, I couldn't order for a Nova, every listing gave one-wire O2 sensors, and even the 87 FX-16 is one wire. But the 88 FX-16 O2 sensor is moved back to the first exhaust pipe from the exhaust manifold, and has four wires like my Nova. The cheap aftermarket O2 sensor died in 2 years and 20k miles, and ruined a new Catalytic converter. California's biannual inspections keep us honest! So that's two cats and two O2 sensors, the last from the Toyota dealer, the Chevy dealer was $ 50 bucks more! That's why I always lie at the Toyota dealer and get FX-16 parts. I wouldn't try it for a body part and the keys are chevy import keys, but a lot of it is the same and bolts right on. For the O2 sensor it was the only working option except for Chevy, and since I didn't order one from them I'm not sure if they would have gotten the right one. Everyone else got it wrong.

I love the handling, it's roughly a 16 second car (1/4 mile time) that burns regular gas and gets around 28 miles per gallon, mixed city/freeway driving. It now has a white paint job, so it's even more of a sleeper (rarely given a second look).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th April, 2004

16th May 2004, 21:26

This was an excellent review. I still have my black with red stripe 1988 Chevy Nova Twin Cam which I purchased new. The Chevy dealer told me that Chevy only made 300 of these cars - all black with red stripe. The car was assembled in California - Fremont, I believe - as a Toyota/Chevrolet collaboration. 1988 was the last year of the Chevy Nova. I, too, prefer going to the Toyota dealer rather than the Chevy dealer.