Code 130R: That Time Chevy Almost Built a New Nova
The other day we took a look at one the of the coolest Nissan vehicle projects that never saw the light of the day—the IDx Freeflow and IDx Nismo concepts that were first shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show before eventually being cancelled (much to chagrin of car lovers). But the IDx wasn’t the only compact, rear-drive coupe concept that came during that time period. General Motors also got in on the action with the Chevrolet Code 130R concept that was shown more than a year earlier at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show.
Like the IDx, the Code 130R was inspired largely by the interest around the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ which reinvigorated the compact RWD market when they went on sale for the 2013 model year.
The Code 130R was said to be based on the rear-drive platform of the Cadillac ATS and later the sixth gen Chevy Camaro, but it was much smaller than those cars—coming in just slightly larger than the 86 and BRZ in overall size. Unlike those cars, the Code 130R featured a much more upright greenhouse and a more classical look that shared a similar profile to the BMW 1-Series and other coupes of an earlier era.
In concept form the car was powered by a 1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder with mild hybrid technology. It was said to make 150 horsepower and could be had with either an automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Most importantly, it was said to be a "driver's car" and naturally, there was speculation that if the car reached production a higher performance “SS” version would be waiting in the wings.
Like the Nissan IDx, the Chevy Code 130R was received quite well by the press and auto enthusiasts, and also like the IDx it never evolved past the concept stage as the market began to shift away from small cars, particularly niche ones like this. However, unlike Nissan who has struggled with the entry level enthusiast market as of late GM at least captured some of the Code 130R’s spirit with the V6 and turbo four cylinder versions of the Camaro—particularly the 1LE package cars.
Even so, it was sad to see the Code 130R never become a reality, as the smaller more upright car would likely have offered a very different experience than the Camaro with its notoriously bad outward visibility.
We also happen to think “Nova” would have been an excellent name for the car had it ever made it to production. For now though, the Chevy Code 130R will remain one of the more interesting “what-ifs” of recent automotive history.
Want to hear about another obscure Bowtie machine? Check out the Chevy Caprice PPV.