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Old sedan that has had several owners

Junkyard gem: 1987 Chevy Nova sedan

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The former Fremont Assembly factory in California, where El Caminos and GTOs were previously built and now Teslas are produced, was the site of the collaboration between Toyota and General Motors that gave rise to New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI. A 1985 Chevrolet Nova, an Americanized AE82 Toyota Corolla Sprinter, was the first vehicle to leave the NUMMI assembly line. The Novarolla was manufactured until 1988. One of the vehicles, a 1987 notchback discovered in a Denver, Colorado, junkyard, is shown below.

The original use of the name “Nova” was as a trim level for the brand-new Chevy II compact in 1962. The Chevy II moniker vanished in 1969, and the Nova name took its place, just like the Malibu trim level pushed aside the Chevelle name to become a model name in its own right (in 1978). The outdated Nova was phased out in North America when the Citation debuted for the 1980 model year (production continued for a couple of years in Iran, however). However, because millions of Americans had fond memories of their straightforward, dependable Chevy Novas, the name was reintroduced for the new Corolla, which was developed by NUMMI.

Everyone who had any experience with the frequently substandard vehicles created during the final years of Fremont Assembly was startled by the NUMMI-built Nova’s remarkable quality of construction (I grew up nearby, and I knew guys who had worked there during the early 1980s; their tales of corner-cutting and workplace hazards would chill your blood). Although many of the same employees who constructed the NUMMI Novas were represented by the same UAW officials, the build quality was far higher than that of, for example, a ’81 Regal built there.

This one made it to 240,208 miles, which is still a respectable mileage total for a cheap mid-1980s car but not quite as good as some other 1980s Toyotas I’ve encountered in car graveyards.

We may presume that every owner (apart from probably the final one) took good care of this automobile throughout its existence because the interior is filthy but not damaged-looking.

How did it get here? Most likely a combination of rust (albeit not to the extent that Toyotas experienced in the Rust Belt) and a mechanical issue that would have cost more than a few hundred dollars to repair.

Mechanically, it is a straight-up E80 Corolla. All 1985–1987 Novas had the carbureted 4A–C engine, which had a 74 horsepower rating. For 1988, Nova buyers could purchase a Nova Twin-Cam with the same 110-horsepower engine that powered the Corolla FX16 GT-S (manufactured by NUMMI).

The NUMMI Nova came standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but this one has a four-speed automatic transmission that is an option.

A brand-new 1987 Nova car cost $8,258, which is equivalent to $22,005 in 2022.

The fact that this vehicle includes an automatic gearbox, air conditioning, and a Delco AM/FM radio (which you required to listen to the amazing music of 1987) shows that the original buyer selected the $630 ($1,680 now) Nova Option Package 3. By this time, Fujitsu TEN radios rather than Delco ones were used in the Toyota-badged E90 Corollas that were being produced at NUMMI.

Other Toyotas from the time had the “Econ” air conditioning setting.

There is one in every automobile. We’ll see.

NUMMI began producing E90 Corolla Sprinters with Geo Prizm badges in 1989, taking the place of the Nova. With the retirement of the Geo brand in 1998, the Prizm became a Chevrolet, and manufacture lasted until 2002.

Nothing compares to the vintage Chevy Nova!

The NUMMI Nova might actually hold tremendous value for collectors in the future.

1987’s Junkyard Gem Originally published on Autoblog on Sun, Aug. 21, 2022, 10:00:00 EDT. To use feeds, please refer to our terms.