Built in Freemont, California, by the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc., and bought by Chevrolet under the terms of a joint venture agreement between General Motors and Toyota Motors, the Nova borrows its dimensions and many mechanical components from the Toyota Corolla.
Toyota was responsible for designing and engineering the manufacturing layout, coordinating the acquisition and installation of equipment and the implementation of the production system. Production management is handled jointly by Toyota and Chevrolet; Chevrolet handles the distribution and marketing the products of the joint venture.
Built in two body styles only, the 4-door sedan and the 5-door hatchback originally came equipped with the 1587 cc 4A-LC engine. This engine is virtually ideal for a car of this size, offering reasonable performance in a front wheel drive package, economy and simplicity of repair. Additionally, the cars have independent suspension at all four wheels, front disc brakes, and a list of interior amenities. The Novas could be had in either the base or CL levels; the CL package included further niceties such as remote fuel door release, tilt-wheel steering column and velour interior.
For 1988, the 4-door sedan was given an optional twin-cam 16 valve motor. This 4A-GE motor is derivative of the original, but gives noticably more horsepower due to better "breathing" of the engine and better fuel control from the new fuel injection system.
Beginning in 1989, the Nova was restyled completely and christened Prizm. The product line was brought under the Geo banner, under which Chevrolet has grouped its foreign and import products.