Forget everything you know about the 1950s. The thing that defined the era debuted on a fall day in 1954, smack dab in the middle of the decade. Everything that happened before or since is merely prologue or reaction. The introduction of the Chevrolet V-8 in late 1954 is the axis around which the world turns.
At least it’s that way if you’re into Chevrolet engines. We’re really into Chevrolet engines. And judging by what we see at the SEMA show, we’re not alone. Chevrolet engines have appeared extensively at, if not dominated, each of the 50 annual events hosted by the organization.
When Chevrolet showed the then-new Camaro at the 1967 SEMA Show, do you think it rolled out the inline-six? I don’t think so. Since 1956, Chevrolet hasn’t installed an engine other than a bent-eight in its Corvette. But back to the show. Presence there says something. It says, basically, that something is worth investing in. Manufacturers don’t produce parts for duds, after all. It’s bad business. Like you and me, they go for the most bang for the buck.
This year, as in many in the past, Chevrolet engines dominated the floor. Sure, there are lots of Fords and Dodges, and even scads of Hondas. But you’d have to lump them all together just to close the gap.
The popularity of the Chevrolet engine is one of those self-feeding things. Ever reflecting on the parts already available, manufacturers create entirely new expressions as a means to capture more of the market. The engine that we call a Mouse may as well be called a guinea pig. It seems as though every year some enterprising manufacturer uses Chevrolet’s venerable V-8 as a testbed for some new idea or product. So oftentimes you’ll see it on the floor of the SEMA show well before you’ll see it on a Ford.
And as fans of the Chevrolet engine, we wouldn’t want it any other way. We’ve put together this best-of-the-best Chevy engine gallery from the 2017 SEMA Show where horsepower still rules.
Photos by Chris Shelton