Originally called the Chevy II (the Nova name was used for the highest trim level), all trim levels were named "Nova" by 1968. There are 4 different generations of the original Nova: 1962-65, 1966-67, 1968-74, and 1975-79.
Other milestones include the addition of Chevy's famous SS package in 1963 (renamed "Nova Rally" in 1977), and a 9C1 police package in 1975.
For 1985, the Nova name was used on a rebadged Toyota Corolla & continued until 1988.
Personally, I prefer the Novas of the 70's, but whatever your preference, the Nova is an awesome car. Not only does it look cool, but it has performance to match (especially the SS models), so you can own just about any ricer out there today!
(guy with '76 Nova SS): Please, go screw yourself.
(ricer): You chicken, sucka?
(Nova guy): (sigh) OK, fine.
(the light goes green. No contest here, the Nova leaves the Civic in the dust.)
(ricer): Aw shit, my VTEC didn't kick in, yo!
Tim: Its not even like that, I am from NOVA man we dont have cows anywhere around here.
Guy 2: Naa I keep getting owned in multi-player