Classic Chevrolet Chevelles
The most popular model Chevrolet has ever sold, the Chevelle has retained popularity beyond its own era. The Chevelle was one of the best selling cars of its time, and is still coveted by hot rodders and collectors today. Released for purchase for the first time on September 26th of 1963, the Chevelle was produced between model years 2964 and 1977. It came in a wide variety of body styles, including everything from a two-door sport coupe to a four-door estate wagon. As the Impala models were getting bigger and bigger, Chevrolet realized that they needed a mid-sized car to bridge the gap between the Impala and the compact Chevy II, also known as the Chevy Nova.
The Chevelle was a natural competitor to the Ford Fairlane. The new (at the time) A-body platform served at the base for building the Chevelle, along with the Pontiac Tempest, the Oldsmobile Cutlass, and the Buick Skylark. GM pulled out all the stops with the Chevelle carrying the widest variety of trim options, spanning from the barest of entry levels to the most plush Chevrolet available (excluding some versions of the Impala).
By mid-year 1964, the Chevelle’s top engine would become a much more effective 300hp 327, as a result of direct competition. At the time, brands under the same corporate roof would compete with each other. Pontiac released their new Tri-Power 389 GTO with 325hp. Oldsmobile threw their hat in the ring next by offering its mid-size Cutlass 4-4-2, and even Buick would eventually join the party in 1965 with its Skylark GS.
Chevrolet was ready and willing to accept the challenge of raising the bar. For the 1965 model, the Chevelle featured an increased horsepower rating from 327 to 350 known as the RPO (Regular Production Order) L79 engine, which became the standard engine in the SS for ’65. Designers then promptly got to work on what would become the first big block V8; the 396, aka, the “Mark IV.” This marked the birth of the Muscle Car Era.
1968 delivered a whole new redesign for the Chevelle and it’s A-body cousins. Featuring a shorter wheelbase, the immensely popular long-hood, short-deck styling, along with a sculpted body and tapered front fenders, the new body style gave the Chevelle the muscular appearance that it rightfully deserved. The 375hp 396 option returned, again giving enthusiasts three levels of performance from their big block SS.
The performance of the rare Chevelle Yenko S/C set the stage for the 1970 model year. Quarter-mile times in the low-13 second range were the norm for 427-equipped Chevelles, making the COPO and Yenko Chevelles very valuable today.
Another complete restyle of the Chevelle came into play in 1970, still based of of the shortened wheelbase of the ‘68-’69 model years. Two more engines joined the roster that year in the form of the LS-5 and LS-6 454. The LS-5 came equipped with 360hp, and the LS-6 ruled the streets with its 450hp and massive 500lb ft of torque. This version of the Chevelle also came with unique styling firsts, such as an available air scoop in a hood that already had cowl induction, which would grab air from the outside and force it into the carburetor as the driver would let off of the throttle.
The popularity of the ’70 Chevelle continues to grow today, as it is often used in movies and music videos, including as Vin Diesel’s hero car in the latest “Fast and the Furious” movie.