With the one of the nation’s largest gatherings of rare Chevys at the 7th annual Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, naturally, we wanted to look under the hoods. This show always brings out the unique and even oddball Chevrolets from private collectors across the country and even Canada. This year, it once again exceeded expectations when we walked into Chicago’s massive Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
With legendary names like “Turbo Fire” and “Turbo Jet,” and with engine codes such as LT-1, L-72, L-78, L-79, L-88, L-89, ZL-1 – that many of us know better than our passwords or anniversary dates – we wanted to get a better loot at what powered legendary Bowtie nameplates and made them strip-blazing champions, road-racing victors and boulevard-bruisers.
Some of these engines, like the cars they were residing in, had over-the-top restorations, with every nut and bolt carefully scrutinized for accuracy, and all factory parts (including power-robbing emissions equipment) was back in place to get judged. However, over in the “Barn Finds” section of the show, we found a few that probably never had the valve covers off, since they left the Tonawanda engine plant over 40 years ago.
So, here’s a photo gallery of our favorite engines that motivated Chevy muscle during that golden era of stratospheric compression ratios, thumping mechanical camshafts, and fuel sucking Holley, Rochester and Carter carburetors. When the automakers threw blinding chrome all over their motors and made sure that when you unlatched the hood to impress your next-door neighbor or the gearheads at the local drive-in, everyone knew how many cubic inches you had and how much horsepower it pumped out.