Ask an average American gearhead what the greatest nameplates ever stamped out of a GM-owned die press are, and he or she will likely give you the same two answers. In fact if you were to poll a random collective of American gearheads as to what some of the greatest automotive nameplates ever are, you’re likely to see two particular answers crop up with regular frequency. These two cars together not only represent the glory days of The General, but of the entire muscle car era, and are perhaps the most historic and iconic nameplates the American automotive industry has to offer.
The Chevrolet Chevelle was a brute force hammer of muscle cars, available with an engine carrying those three magic numbers, four-five-four. Kicking out just ever so shy of one horsepower per cubic inch (factory rating) for the 1970 model year, the Chevelle SS 454 is the muscle car equivalent of the Ferrari F40 - the obligatory muscle car that wallpapers every adolescent gearhead’s bedroom.
The late 1960s Corvette - the first model years of the C3 - offered amazing horsepower-to-weight ratios that have been realized again only relatively recently with such insane special editions as the Z06. Offered with a variety of engines up to the 427 cubic inch V8, the Corvette represented a true speed demon before being addled back by tightening emissions controls and a serious dialing down of horsepower. Later examples of this body style may be worth barely more than the cinderblocks that hold them up and the Sportclips coupons that keep their owners’ mullets in check, but examples from those first few amazing model years easily hit six figures on the auction block if all the right criteria line up.
But what if there happened to be a car that combined the best of the Chevelle and the best of the Corvette? Amazingly enough GM, in perhaps a final fit of insanity, did exactly just that, right smack in the middle of the malaise era no less. Yes, that’s right, a car that combined the fury of the Chevelle with the equal fury of the Corvette, during an age when Ford’s performance offerings were represented by the Mustang II. The car’s very name, in fact, told you just how insane a pairing of these two uninhibited muscle cars awaited to be unleashed underneath bodylines that aped the very best of the most in-vogue from Europe and Asia at the time.
That’s right, I’m talking about GM’s greatest success ever, a car that defied the economic and weak performance expectations of the Malaise Era, and dared to marry the greatness of the Chevelle and Corvette into one single package that nonetheless remained affordable and economical.
The amount of horsepower the Chevette can make is literally unbelievable. It was considered so good most customers actually preferred the performance of the automatic over the manual. Even Regular Car Reviews is an enthusiastic fan of the Chevette.
So good was the Chevette, that Renault felt compelled to compare their new Alliance subcompact against the class-leading Chevette. Needless to say the Alliance and Chevette simply don’t compare to each other.
H/T to whoever first posted this video, I forgot who.
Clearly, the Chevette deserves to be remembered not only as a classic, but a classic for the ages, well beyond the automotive world and into the general realms of human achievement and the very concepts of space-time itself.