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All-American Week: The "Spirit of America" Chevrolets

SOA Vega poster If anybody remembers our Nation's Bicentennial Year, then they remember these limited edition cars. 1976 seemed to start out like most any other year, except we had "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour" to suffer through. "Charlie's Angels" gave us some great models to gaze at, and the cars weren't bad either.

But in 1974, a couple of years ahead of schedule and maybe to boost sales, Chevrolet sold a really nice trim package on their El Camino, Impala, Nova, and Vega models. Some dealers may have added this trim to other Chevy car and truck models as well.

The outsides were painted white with red and blue stripes, and sported "Spirit of America" emblems; the insides had white seats, red carpeting, and black dashboards. Looks like they had some nice wheels, too. They were not featured in the sales brochures that year, and getting detailed information on all of them is a bit tricky.

So let's just look at a few images of these cars:

SOA El Camino

This may be the rarest of the "Spirit of America" Chevrolets

SOA Impala

The "Spirit of America" Impala was a two-door pillarless hardtop

SOA Nova

The "Spirit of America" Hatchback Nova with a black vinyl half roof

Nova hatch SOA New

The Nova's cargo area was large enough to watch the fireworks from

SOA Vega

The Vega Hatchback may have looked its best in this trim


If I had my pick of the four, would anybody be surprised if I chose the Nova? The El Camino is just not me, the Impala is too big, and, well, the Vega...

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credits: The "Spirit of America" Vega poster is from The El Camino image is from The Impala photo is from The "SoA" Nova picture is from The inside view of the modified Nova Hatchback photo is from And the "SoA" Vega image is from


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I Like 'em All. I Find Myself Choosing The Nova As Well. I Like The Impala Alot Though.

There's something suspicious about that Nova's vanity plate.

That El Camino rocks!

I remember Ford had a similar trim package, at least for Pintos.

Impala has me drooling. I miss my 75.

--Big Chris

"I remember Ford had a similar trim package, at least for Pintos."
And Mavericks too, IIRC. They had a Capatin America-ish looking shield.

Back in the day, I recall seeing several Novas, a couple of Impalas, but never an El Camino.

I love the white interuior with red carpet. Much better tyhan today's "You can have any color you want as long as it's black or dark gray".

You'd think with advanced computer-controlled "just in time" production methods, they could give us more interior choices today.

John B, the similar package on the Pinto and Maverick that you're thinking of was called the "Sprint" package, it was available in 1972 only and also included the Mustang.

I didn't realize the Spirit of America package was also available on the El Camino, I don't recall ever seeing one. That would have to be a true rare find today if any of them still exist.

Yankee, I'd never seen an El Camino with the "Spirit of America" trim either until I started this post. "Spirit of America" Vegas were plentiful. I'm going on faith that the El Camino image is a real factory package; it could be a dealer kit.

Either way, it looks pretty darn good.

My girlfriend's ex-boyfriend had the Nova. Even though it was a thoroughly ugly and non-cool car, it sure made it easy for me to spot him coming!

None of the above cars strike my fancy, but I'd definitely take a Cosworth Vega.

Bruce, you got me thinking... I wish they had built a Cosworth Vega station wagon. They did build one in GT trim. That would have been cool!

I agree. Also, the '76 and '77 Vegas had improved rust protection, suspension, and brakes. With a better engine they would have been quite a car.

Here's some light technical info on the '76 and '77 Vegas. It's too bad that the improvements came so late.

Those are all awesome.

In response to today's post "Red, White, and Blue: a Car Lust Retrospective"(July 5th, 2012),
There is another model that fits in with this theme. The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Bicentennial Edition Convertible:

The red white and blue stuff on it is more subtle, along the lines of the Impala above. But I think it deserves to be mentioned here.

Thank you, Toronado455. Yes, subtle it is!

my brouther had a blue one with a white top and a 400 and white interior..

I had the El Camino. It had blue carpet with blue dash, white bench seat, Didn't have the sport wheels but rather the wheelcovers. I bought it used in 1979. It had the fender badges (decals) and stripes.

What the pricing for the 1976nova hatchback it has been in the garage for years little rust but all origanal parts i have a buyer but not sure how much is a good price

The Spirit of America series Chevrolets only came in Malibu, Nova and Vega. I can still remember the day in May, 1974, having to decide which vehicle I liked the best. Specifically, I remember having the sales person tell me there were three models because I had originally gone to the dealership to look for a truck. I chose the Nova because the Malibu was too big and the Vega was too small. Whoever did the kit on the El Camino, did a good job, however, it's not original from the factory....

I had stated Malibu.....I meant Impala, Nova and Vega. Noticed the El Camino didn't have the logo on the back as the other vehicles all had logos on the back and that the hub caps on the El Camino do not show the eagle as the others had from the factory.

My husband and I purchased a '74 SOA Nova new and we still drive it today. The hatchback was great for our three kids at the drive-in!

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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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