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The 5 Greatest Chevy muscle cars that aren’t Camaros
It’s still mind blowing that Pontiac jumped in front of Chevrolet and invented the muscle car (according popular opinion, at least). The 1964 GTO, made by Pontiac Chief Engineer John DeLorean and two of his senior assistants, Bill Collins and Russ Gee, basically captured their opponents at Chevrolet and the remainder of the industry asleep in their merchandise planning meetings. Those guys realized the 389-cubic-inch motor from Pontiac’s full-size version would fit in the new lighter and smaller 1964 Tempest. They then added a name stolen from Ferrari and combined that performance with picture.
Chevy, of course, had the Corvette, but it required some time for its Bowtie Boys to grab up at the muscle car wars, initially using the big-block Chevelle and then with the Camaro, that did not arrive until 1967. For all, the Camaro is considered 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 building machines.
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
Annually following the GTO debuted, Chevy still didn’t have a severe midsize muscle car, although its brand new Mark IV big-block motor was going to change this. It appeared on the choice sheet of this Corvette. For $292.70 (roughly $2313 now ), option code L78 got you a 396-cu-in engine using a good cam, an aluminum intake manifold, and big port heads, rated at 425 horsepower. The engine was also available at the full size Impala SS.
And then, late in the model 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 kept, but it obtained a milder hydraulic cam that dropped its peak power to 375 hp at 5600 rpm and 420 lb-ft torque at 3600 rpm. That is still 15 hp over the usual tri-power 1965 GTO.
Only 201 of these were built, mostly in crimson. Except for a single convertible, all have been hardtops with four-speeds. It was Chevrolet’s first authentic big-block muscle car, and it had been a signal to the entire world that Chevy was ready for war.
2. 1968 Chevy Impala SS427 L72
From 1967, midsize muscle automobiles were everywhere. Every American producer short of Cadillac and Lincoln were now betting on road 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 significantly 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 exact same engine that powered the newest 1966 Corvette and it’s the exact same engine which would go on to power COPO Camaros in 1969. In the Impala, the engine cost an additional $542.45 ($3945 now ), and it had been 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 bright red 427 badges to every fender and white and red SS 427 badges to its grille and its own decklid.
Based on Hemmings, Chevy built nearly 711,000 Impalas in 1968. Just 1778 were SS427s, and of these, only 568 got the L72.
3. 1969 Chevy Chevelle COPO 9562
In 1969, in the event that you wanted the hottest big-block Chevelle you purchased an L78 powered Chevelle SS 396 with 375 hp. Right? Wrong. You just had to know it existed. Most Chevy dealers did not.
COPO stands for Central Office Production Order, and it was created so Chevrolet could construct specially equipped trucks and cars for fleets like police, fire, and taxi services. However, the program was prostituted during the muscle car era and allowed Chevrolet to build 427-powered Camaros and Chevelles, despite GM’s self-imposed ban on engines larger than 400 cubic inches in mid-size or smaller cars. The Corvette was the exception, of course. Basically, COPO became Chevy’s door.
These 427 Chevelles are infrequent, and like COPO Camaros they don’t wear SS badging. They are plain Jane, with just a blue Chevy Bowtie at the center of the grille. Based on hemmings.com, Chevy built 323 of these, together with 99 going to Don Yenko’s Pennsylvania dealership for Yenko S/C badging.
4. 1968 Chevy Nova SS396 L78
The 1967 L79 Chevy II has been a sexy little car. With the 350-hp 327 small-block in the Corvette, it was drag raced by Bill Grumpy Jenkins and became famous as a giant killer on the street and strip. However, Chevy had more serious performance plans for its inexpensive economy car, and Chevy surfaced the redesigned Nova at 1968. It was bigger and shared with its front clip with the Camaro. And that meant Chevy’s mean ol’ big-block engine would match.
The Nova SS 396 has been born, and it is still one of the best high-performance bargains of all time. The Nova was not as hot since the Camaro, but it had been cheaper, lighter and less costly to cover. And it had been available with the identical 375-hp solid-lifter L78 396 as the Camaro and the Chevelle, with a Turbo 400 automatic or a Muncie four-speed. (Chevy also offered the 350-hp L34 396.)
Although the L79 remained accessible for yet another year, L78 Nova’s were road beasts–sleepers that may creep up on unsuspecting 440 Mopars and 428-powered Fords. And they’re rare. Chevy only constructed 667 in 1968, though production jumped to nearly 5000 in 1969 and more than 3700 in 1970, based on novaresourse.org.
5. 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 454 LS6
In 1970, GM lifted its internal ban on installing engines larger than 400 cubic inches from mid-size models. That exact same year, Chevy’s big-block grew from 427 cubic inches to 454, along with the Chevelle model got a complete redesign which comprised more muscular lines. The SS version now featured two broad 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 powerful muscle machine of the era and among the most desirable muscle cars of all time.
Writer 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, giving the LS6 Chevelle pavement-pounding power. Few cars, besides Mopar Street Hemis and Buick Stage I Skylarks, could hold their own against the popular Chevelle SS. All three cars, particularly when fitted and tuned with all headers, were capable of delivering low-to-mid-thirteens at 105–107 mph terminal speeds.
Chevy actually offered four different big-blocks in the 1970 Chevelle SS, for instance, 375-hp L78, as well as the 365-hp LS5 454, which had less compression and a hydraulic camshaft. However, the LS6 454, which also cranked out 500 lb-ft of torque, was a radical as it got. The motor featured four-bolt mains, an 11.5:1 compression ratio, rectangle port heads, an aluminum intake manifold, and a large Holley carburetor. And the automobile was downright common compared to many other exotic muscle cars. According to americancarcollector.com, Chevy constructed 4475 LS6 Chevelles in 1970.
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