With but a single 2012 Oscar nomination for sound editing, the Ryan Gosling existential action film “Drive” has some film critics up in arms over the lack of attention. However, automotive buffs who have seen the film know that Gosling’s character Driver is driving no faceless post-muscle era car, but a 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle. In honor of “Drive” and the Chevrolet Chevelle, here are the top five models in the line’s history, courtesy of Bold Ride.
Why the Chevrolet Chevelle?
While the 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle was not one of the automaker’s landmark models – it missed the peak of the muscle car era, didn’t miss America’s national fuel crisis and was somewhat light on power – it did come to be known as the ultimate “working stiff’s” muscle car. There was nothing superfluous or flashy about the Chevrolet Chevelle, much like Gosling’s protagonist. He suffers no nonsense when completing a job.
Chevelle production began in 1964 and continued for approximately 10 years. Arguably, Chevrolet’s Chevelle designs reached their peak in 1970 with the SS 454, what some experts claim was the most powerful rated factory muscle car of its time. By 1973, however, while some tuners like Yenko, Nickey and Baldwin-Motion kept the idea of the Chevelle alive, factory standard offerings failed to catch on with the automotive-buying public.
#5 – 1964 Malibu SS 327 L76
Right out of the gate, Chevrolet made noise with this Super Sport model, which was powered by a 365 hp, 327 cubic inch L76 engine produced by Corvette. Only a small number of these Malibus made it to the street, but those who got their hands on one no doubt enjoyed the lightweight chassis and the high-powered, small-block power plant.
#4 – 1966 Chevelle SS 396 L78
This was the year big-block Chevrolet Chevelles went mainstream, notes Bold Ride. The engine was a Mark IV big-block that provided little in the way of fuel economy but a great deal of horsepower. The L78 396 cubic inch big-block was rated at 375 hp, and was significantly easier to find than the previous year’s Z16 engine.
# 3 – 1965 Malibu SS 396 Z16
This sported a highly desired big-block engine. Only 200 hardtops and one convertible were produced, and the vast majority of those were saved for various journalists and celebrities. The Z16 was powerful, clocking in at 375 horses.
# 2 – 1970 Chevelle SS 454 LS6
This marks the point where the Chevrolet Chevelle opened things up for real adventure. Having no displacement cap opened the horsepower gates wide. The 454 cubic inch engine in the 1970 Chevelle SS 454 LS6 was universally considered to be underrated at 450 horsepower.
#1 – 1969 Chevelle COPO 9562
Leading up to the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle beast listed at number two, there was the COPO Chevelle, a Central Office Production Order. The COPO process was a way for dealers to get around the 400 cubic inch limit at the time, and the this rare vehicle boasted 427 cubic inches that produced 425 hp. Few people have an inkling of the history of COPO vehicles, as they don’t show up in the standard catalog. They have their own.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Clone Burnout
Team Chevelle: http://www.chevelles.com/
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