Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Today's car is a model that you'd expect to find on the island in large numbers, given the sheer quantities sold, but that's not the case. In fact, this is only the fifth Chevy Nova (we've had a '63, a '70, a '74, and a '77 so far) in this series. Why so many more Dodge Darts then Chevy Novas? I think the answer lies partly in the incredible durability of the Slant Six and partly in the simple equation [Nova + Junkyard Small-Block + Cheap Beer = Oblivion].
Yes, when you have a car that takes the engine with the best power-to-money ratio in the world as a bolt-in, you figure there won't be many left in a hoon-friendly area like the East Bay after a few decades. Still, this refrigerator-white '74 (which lives just around the corner from the '69 Volvo P1800) has beaten the odds, looking like it just rolled off the showroom floor. Cars from 1975 and earlier are exempt from California's strict emissions test, which means there's very little likelihood that the 350 in this Nova is actually putting out the original 145 horsepower.
This car parks outdoors on one of the busiest streets in town (though sometimes it's in the driveway), letting all the commuters in their Explorers and Altimas take an envious look at those sharp rally wheels as they pass by. The '74 Nova with 350 sold for $2,919, $110 bucks less than the 318-powered '74 Dart. However, it cost $284 more than the '74 AMC Gremlin with 304 V8, which gave you 5 more horses than the Nova's 350, in a car weighing 194 pounds less. So there you have it- the Gremlin was a much better performance deal than the Nova in 1974!