No, not the actor.
The Chevy Chase is my own unique search for my ideal Chevy.
The trouble is, this iconic brand has been churning out cars, both classic and cutting-edge, for generations. Choosing just one is impossible.
Well, maybe not impossible, but certainly not a task that I’m up to – after all – a woman reserves the right to change her mind. So, in the spirit of Chevy choices, here are my top five must-have Chevys.
With the help of my Lexington, KY Chevrolet dealer, I’m confident that I can get behind the wheel of at least one of these beauties.
Ready, set, go…
It just seems fitting, in the spirit of a well-run chase, to organize my choices by their model years. So, we’ll start at the beginning (as Julie Andrews famously sang that is, after all, “a very good place to start”), and finish with an upcoming Chevy that I simply cannot wait to take for a test drive.
Here come the throwbacks…
1957 Chevy Bel Air: As Seen In…Just About Everything
Without knowing it, I’ve been eyeing and admiring the 1957 Chevy Bel Air for years. It wasn’t until I became an automotive blogger that I learned the vocabulary to match the car that all the cool kids were driving.
By cool kids, I mean the likes of Patrick Swayze, who drove a 1957 black Chevy Bel Air when he wasn’t tearing up the dance floor in Dirty Dancing.
Or Cher in the role of wayward mother, Mrs. Flax, who pulls up in a 1957 Chevy Bel Air, and remarks that her oldest daughter’s teacher is clearly a moron. How does she know this without having met the man? He drives an Edsel. Obviously.
The Chevy Bel Air arrived on the automotive scene in 1950, and was very popular, but in 1957 it launched with an increased engine displacement from 265 to 283 cubic inches.
Although the V8 continued, generating 162 horsepower, the more popular engine option was the new 283, or Super Turbo-Fire 283, able to get 220 horsepower. I have no doubt that Patrick Swayze, aka Johnny Castle, opted for the Super Turbo-Fire.
1960 Chevy Corvair – Motor Trend’s Car of the Year
“Unsafe At Any Speed,” so penned Ralph Nader, ruining the fun for the rest of us. But, the Corvair enjoyed two generations of mass production before Nader blew the whistle.
A blend of the word corvette and Bel Air, the Chevy Corvair was a compact car, able to seat six passengers and released in a variety of body styles, including coupes, sedans, and convertibles between 1959-1964.
The 1960 model year introduced a new engine option with a significant power boost. The Super Turbo Air generated 95 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 125 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm.
Jimmy Dean said it best, “Gotta love those ‘Chevrolet people.’”
Oh I do, Mr. Dean. I sure do.
1963 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray – A Rare Beauty
The 1963 model year gave the Corvette Stingray improved handling, enhanced aerodynamics, independent suspension, cushier comfort levels for passengers, and a stunning new design, most noticeable in the rear split window.
Lighter than its predecessors, the 1963 Stingray kept the same powertrains, the standard V8 engine, generating 360 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 353 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Able to reach top speeds of 142 miles per hour, the Stingray could crush the zero to sixty mph dash in less than six seconds.
Jay Leno took a serious chance and purchased a 1963 Stingray, sight unseen. Check out the result here:
1969 Chevy Camaro: Muscle-Bound Glory
With a more aggressive stance, the 1969 Chevy Camaro was the last of the first generation of Camaros, and revised for a longer look, positioned lower to the ground.
More Camaros were produced in 1969 than any of the earlier model years.
Available as a Sport Coupe, Super Sport or SS, “The One with a Name Like the Hiss of a Snake,” and, of course, the race-inspired Z28, complete with 15×7 inch rally wheels, the 1969 Camaro remains an in demand dream car.
The 1969 Camaro packed a powerful punch and the 1969 Camaro SS, painted white with orange stripes, was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500.
Equipped with different available versions of the V8, able to get up to 425 horsepower, the 1969 Chevy Camaro remains the one of the most desired classic Chevys, particularly those rare few outfitted with Don Yenko’s L-72 powertrains.
1969 Yenko Camaros, dubbed simply Yenko, are among those rare collector cars; therefore, one of my most sought after Chevys.
1970 El Camino – A Cult Classic
I just can’t help it.
I want to join the company of Bill Clinton and Evel Knieval and tool around town in an original El Camino, touted by Hot Rod magazine as “a true multi-purpose vehicle. Good looks plus sedan styling let it be driven anywhere you’d take a regular passenger car. You never feel out of place – even the ladies should be at ease with it.”
So, I’m intentionally ignoring the whole “even the ladies” line, but I’m anxious to test Chevy’s claim that the El Camino is, “the most beautiful thing that ever shouldered a load!”
Not to mention the bowtie’s assertion that “It rides and handles like a convertible yet hauls and hustles like the workingest thing on wheels.”
Right, “workingest” isn’t a word, but this bizarro hybrid-esque Chevy looks fun. By hybrid, I don’t mean fuel economy or environmentally conscious driving. I mean part car, part truck.
I am specifically curious about the 1970 LS6 454, which featured a new A-body, 454cui big-block engine, Chevelle front clip, and Monte Carlo front parking lights, which was available in 360hp or 450hp performance levels, the highest performing El Camino to date, and thus, the stuff of legend.
And thus, I have to have one.
2016 Chevy Camaro – Can’t Wait!
As much as I can appreciate a classic car like a ’69 Yenko Camaro, I am really excited to test drive the upcoming 2016 Camaro. Chevy used the lessons from its legacy and enhanced the structure of the upcoming Camaro with lightweight, aerodynamic materials.
Although it comes as a coupe or convertible, I’ve gotta go with the convertible on this. Now completely electronic, the top of the Camaro drops down at the push of a console button or key fob, even while traveling at speeds up to thirty miles per hour.
The next decision comes from the powertrain possibilities. The first is a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, able to get 275 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque.
Moving up a level, drivers can opt for the 3.6-liter V6 engine, rated at 335 horsepower with 284 lb.-ft. of torque, featuring Direct Injection, Variable Valve Timing, and, when paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, Active Fuel Management.
My thoughts on driving any type of muscle car is “go hard or go home,” which means that I would equip my 2016 Red Hot Camaro convertible with the available 6.2-liter V8, backed by 455 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque. The LT1 V8 engine gives the 2016 Camaro the distinction of being the most powerful yet.
No doubt you have your own favorite Chevys and this list is by no means exhaustive. I would gratefully drive just about anything from Chevy’s past, present, and future.
While I respect and admire the Chevy legacy, I look forward to seeing what the automaker will create in the future to help us all, “Find New Roads.”