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How to Tell a 1969 SS Nova From a Clone

by Bobby R. Goldsmith

The 1969 Chevy Nova SS is a sought after muscle car for its versatility, for its high level of performance, and for the wide availability of parts -- both original and aftermarket. The problem with the SS, though, is the fact that few authentic Super Sports were actually produced, leading to many inauthentic SS clones flooding the classic car market. But spotting an SS clone is actually pretty easy, so long as you are willing to learn how to decode VIN numbers and research the Nova's SS options.

Spotting an SS Clone

Determine the engine type. There were two types of factory engines installed in the '69 Nova SS. There was the 350 small block and the 396 big block. There were variations on these two engine types, but those were the only engine blocks used in the Nova SS in 1969. If you see anything else in the Nova, it is most likely an SS clone.

Find the VIN number of the Nova. The second and third numbers will tell you if the Nova is in fact a genuine SS or a clone. Look for a 1-7 or a 1-8, which are the factory numbers that correspond with an SS for the Nova. Any other combination of digits in the second and third spaces means the Nova is not a genuine SS.

Determine if the 1-7 or the 1-8 match the type of engine in the Nova. The 1-8 is found on a factory big block, while the 1-7 indicates the small block.

The remaining combinations of digits in the VIN will help you decode the options that the SS is supposed to have. The more factory options that are present that are supposed to be indicates that the Nova SS is genuine and not a clone.

Tip

  • Always ask the owner of the '69 SS Nova if they will allow you to examine the VIN and the vehicle.

Warning

  • Even if the VIN matches up, there is a chance that many of the options present are not factory OEM parts. This can be a problem with many classic car reproductions.

Items you will need

About the Author

Bobby R. Goldsmith is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience in journalism, marketing and academics. His work has been published by the Santa Fe Writers Project, "DASH Literary Journal," the "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and WiseGEEK.

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