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The 5 best Chevy muscle cars Which are Not Camaros
It is still mind blowing off that Pontiac jumped facing Chevrolet and devised the muscle car (based popular notion, at least). The 1964 GTO, made by Pontiac Chief Engineer John DeLorean and among his senior assistants, Bill Collins and Russ Gee, basically captured their opponents in Chevrolet and the rest of the industry asleep in their product planning meetings. Those men realized the 389-cubic-inch engine from Pontiac’s full-size version would match in the new smaller and lighter 1964 Tempest. They then added a title stolen from Ferrari and combined performance with image.
Chevy, naturally, had the Corvette, but it required time for the Bowtie Boys to catch up at the muscle car wars, initially using the big-block Chevelle and then with the Camaro, which did not arrive before 1967. For many, the Camaro is regarded as the quintessential American muscle car. Heck, it is possibly the most popular muscle car of all time, so popular that it overshadows Chevy’s numerous other muscle machines.
Truth is, Chevy created some of the best muscle cars of this age well beyond the Camaro’s legendary models like the Z/28, SS 396, and 427-powered COPO. And we observe them today. These are our picks for the five best Chevy muscle cars that aren’t Camaros:
1. 1965 Chevy Chevelle Z16
A year after the GTO debuted, Chevy still did not have a serious midsize muscle car, even though its new Mark IV big-block motor was about to change this. It appeared on the option sheet of this Corvette. For $292.70 (about $2313 now ), option code L78 provides you a 396-cu-in engine using a solid cam, an aluminum intake manifold, and large port heads, rated at 425 horsepower. The engine was also available at the full-size Impala SS.
And after that, late in the design year, Chevy place it in the Chevelle. Choice code RPO Z16 comprised a more powerful boxed framework from the Chevelle convertible and a slightly detuned version of the 396, provided the code L37. Its 11:1 compression ratio was retained, but it obtained a milder hydraulic camera that dropped its summit power to 375 hp at 5600 rpm and 420 lb-ft torque at 3600 rpm. That’s still 15 hp over the usual tri-power 1965 GTO.
Only 201 of them were built, mostly in red. Except for one convertible, all have been hardtops with four-speeds. It was Chevrolet’s first true big-block muscle building, and it had been a sign to the world that Chevy was prepared for war.
2. 1968 Chevy Impala SS427 L72
From 1967, midsize muscle automobiles were everywhere. Every American producer brief of Cadillac and Lincoln were now betting on street performance. But full size muscle was still something. In’67, the Impala SS 427 was RPO Z24 and contained the L36 big-block using a hydraulic cam rated at 385 hp, five horsepower less than it had been rated at the Corvette. Chevy marketed 2124 that season.
Then, in 1968, Chevy cranked it up, dropping the 425-hp, solid-lifter, iron-block L-72 427 into the Impala. It was the same engine that powered the newest 1966 Corvette and it has the exact same engine which would go on to electricity COPO Camaros in 1969. In the Impala, the motor cost an extra $542.45 ($3945 now ), and it was accessible with all the Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic or a Muncie four-speed. The 1968 Impala hardtop was a fastback stunner, to which Chevy also added glowing red 427 badges to every fender and red and white SS 427 badges to its grille and its decklid.
Based on Hemmings, Chevy built nearly 711,000 Impalas in 1968. Just 1778 were SS427s, and of these, just 568 obtained the L72.
3. 1969 Chevy Chevelle COPO 9562
In 1969, in the event that you wanted the newest big-block Chevelle you bought an L78 powered Chevelle SS 396 with 375 hp. Right? Wrong. Chevy would also sell you a 427-powered Chevelle. You just had to know it existed. Most Chevy dealers did not.
COPO stands for Central Office Production Order, and it had been created so Chevrolet could construct especially equipped cars and trucks for fleets like fire, police, and taxi services. However, the application was prostituted during the muscle car era and enabled Chevrolet to build 427-powered Camaros and Chevelles, despite GM’s self-imposed ban on motors larger than 400 cubic inches in mid-size or smaller cars. The Corvette was the exception, of course. Basically, COPO became Chevy’s back door.
These 427 Chevelles are rare, and such as COPO Camaros they do not wear SS badging. They are plain Jane, with only a blue Chevy Bowtie in the middle of their grille. According to hemmings.com, Chevy built 323 of them, with 99 visiting Don Yenko’s Pennsylvania automobile for Yenko S/C badging.
4. 1968 Chevy Nova SS396 L78
The 1967 L79 Chevy II was a hot little car. Together with the 350-hp 327 small-block from the Corvette, it had been drag raced by Bill Grumpy Jenkins and became famous as a giant killer on the road and strip. It remains popular with collectors today. But Chevy had more critical performance plans for its cheap economy car, and Chevy debuted the redesigned Nova in 1968. It was bigger and shared its front clip with all the Camaro. And that supposed Chevy’s mean ol’ big-block engine would match.
The Nova SS 396 has been born, and it remains one of the best high-performance bargains of all time. The Nova was not as sexy as the Camaro, but it had been cheaper, lighter and less expensive to insure. Plus it was available with the identical 375-hp solid-lifter L78 396 as the Camaro and the Chevelle, using either a Turbo 400 automatic or a Muncie four-speed. (Chevy also provided the 350-hp L34 396.)
Although the L79 remained accessible for yet another year, L78 Nova’s were street beasts–sleepers which could sneak up on unsuspecting 440 Mopars and 428-powered Fords. And they are rare. Chevy only built 667 in 1968, though manufacturing jumped to almost 5000 in 1969 and over 3700 in 1970, according to novaresourse.org.
5. 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 LS6
In 1970, GM lifted its inner ban on installing engines larger than 400 cubic inches in midsize versions. That same year, Chevy’s big-block climbed from 427 cubic inches to 454, along with the Chevelle model got a complete redesign which comprised more muscle lines. The SS version now featured two wide racing stripes across its hood and decklid, and cowl induction was offered for the first time. The planets aligned and the sexy, new 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 LS6, packaging 450 hp, became the most effective muscle machine of the era and among the most desirable muscle cars of all time.
Author Martyn L. Schorr was an automotive journalist in 1970. |} In his new book, Day One: A Automotive Journalist’s Muscle-Car Memoir, he writes,”The Chevelle SS 454 championed the assault having an optional 454/450, providing the LS6 Chevelle pavement-pounding power. Few automobiles, besides Mopar Street Hemis and Buick Stage I Skylarks, could hold their own against the favorite Chevelle SS. All three automobiles, particularly when tuned and fitted with headers, were capable of delivering low-to-mid-thirteens at 105–107 miles terminal rates .
Chevy actually offered four different big-blocks in the 1970 Chevelle SS, for instance, 375-hp L78, in addition to the 365-hp LS5 454, which had less compression and a hydraulic camshaft. The engine featured four-bolt mains, an 11.5:1 compression ratio, rectangle port heads, an aluminum intake manifold, and also a big Holley carburetor. And the automobile was downright common in comparison to several other exotic muscle cars. In accordance with americancarcollector.com, Chevy built 4475 LS6 Chevelles at 1970.
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