The thing that we can sometimes forget when we go to car shows full of 60s Detroit iron is that the Chevy II/Nova was sold as a cheap economy car. A starter car. At the car shows, you'll see obsessively restored examples, usually loaded with every possible option... but there was a time when beat-to-hell Novas were as common as trashed Cavaliers are today.

That's why it was nice to run across this daily-driver beater convertible in Alameda's West End. I spotted it right around the corner from the brown '74 Porsche 911 Targa.

I know it's a daily driver, because I talked to the owner for a minute before he hopped in the thing and drove off to his job 25 miles away. And, ugly as this car may be, it started right up and drove off without a single engine part coming out of the tailpipe.

Tall leaf-spring shackles are still with us! Just don't, you know, get too aggressive in the corners with this setup.

It's a bit down at the heels, but still has early-60s GM style. I'm pretty sure that front bumper isn't from a '63, and in fact this car may be a mishmash of several different years- 1963 seems to be the average vintage of the body parts.

Naturally, there's a bit of the typical body rust you get in old GM cars around here. Looks like none of it has reached Midwestern levels yet, though. And with a convertible, you don't have the rear window rust you usually get!

Even though we've all seen an octillion of these cars with nutso small-blocks, you couldn't get a factory-installed V8 until the 1964 model year. It's cool how GM was proud enough of the six to put a little I6 emblem on the fender.

The '63 Nova convertible listed at just $2472; the much slower and flimsier '63 Beetle convertible was priced a bit cheaper, at $2095.

Of course, the real competition for this car wasn't so much the Beetle; the $2344 Rambler American convertible and the $2470 Ford Futura were the real opponents.