The first Nova kit car I ever saw was owned and built by a fellow apprentice electrician way back in 1980. The finish on the car was a little hurried, if I remember right, but my first impression was that this wedge shaped beast was like something from the future!
The early Novas were based around a VW Beetle donor of all things – not exactly the sporty exotica of the day.
Yet the chassis and engine provided enough power to go around thanks largely to the featherweight bodywork. So the overall result was a nippy car that had a respectable power to weight ratio.
So what made the Nova stand out among the cars of the day?
The wide tyres and low slung engine combined with the aerodynamic wedge shape enabled the nova to stick to the road like a Formula 1 car. This extremely low centre of gravity meant the Nova could corner like it was on rails, not too shabby when you remember the top selling motors of the Seventies and early Eighties tended to be British Leyland rust buckets!
The Nova was quite popular too, with several showing up at the early kit car shows. Maybe this was down to the wide availability of the Beetle donor, or perhaps it had something to do with it looking like anything BUT an Austin Allegro. Who knows for sure?
One thing is for certain – the Nova certainly stood out from the crowd.
Originally designed by Richard Oakes (the guy who designed the GTM Libra) back in 1971, it was groundbreaking for a kit car. It remained in production down in Southampton until around 1975 when a combination of factors forced the company into liquidation.
The car was resurrected in 1978 where it continued in production during its glory years of the 1980s until its demise again around 1989.
Today, the design lives on in a number of clone projects, with the most famous probably being the Sterling based in Pittsburgh, PA in the USA.