Just about every night, I go home and rot my brain away in front of the TV. As I scroll through the TV Guide, I always notice there's a "Top Ten" show scheduled; you know, "Top Ten Rock Songs," "Top Ten Ways To Sit On Your Butt" "Top Ten 100 Places To Visit," or my favorite, "Top Ten Top Ten." The whole "Top (whatever you want it to be)" has become such a hit that I'm pretty sure VH1 has made it mandatory to show a Top Ten show every other hour! All the hype makes one think.
Has our society broken down into a system of numbers and measurement where we NEED to know the numerical ranking of any given random topic? It certainly seems so. For some reason or another, if you throw things into a ranked list, mouths begin to salivate, knees jitter, and hind tails perk up. Then, once Number One is announced, we yell and scream at the TV, as if it's a person capable of communication, about how Number One is a bad choice! We decided to hop on the bandwagon and make up our own Top Ten list here at Super Chevy.
We have put together a list of the Top Ten GM big-block production cars. They're in no sequential order, other than the fact that they all made the list. But the truth is, there's a ton of bitchin' big-block cars out there. Sadly, however, a "Top Ten" list can only consist of that particular number, and therefore, we had to narrow it down. If you see a red flag here, or feel we left something out, feel free to shoot us an e-mail (email@example.com) and let us know. Unlike the TV, we can answer back!
'65 Chevelle Z-16
In 1965, when Chevrolet introduced the new lineup of Chevelles, it was clear that the Chevelle was a force to be reckoned with. The new L79 350hp 327 V-8 had enough power to keep anyone coming back for more. However, behind closed doors there was a storm-a-brewin'. What Chevrolet concocted upped the ante in the musclecar world, and really put the Chevelle on the map. The option was known as the Regular Production Order (RPO) Z-16, more commonly known as the Chevelle Z-16. The Z-16 package outfitted the Chevelle with an L37 396 big-block that cranked out 375 hp at 5,600 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. For those of you who like to read between the lines, you may have noticed the 396 only boasted 25 more horsepower than the L79 327. To make it easy, that's only on paper, not the street.
It's rumored the motor was seriously underrated. Every Z-16 was equipped with a Muncie four-speed, and you could get it in three colors: tuxedo black, regal red, and crocus yellow; the vinyl top was optional. The Z-16 had special die-cast trim and emblems on the rear, and the Malibu SS emblems were moved to the fenders. To beef up the underpinnings Chevrolet built the car around a stronger convertible frame which featured rear reinforcements and two extra body mounts. Other features included 11-inch drums, power-assisted brakes, control arms, and more. At that point in time, the Z-16 was as close to a bona fide production drag car that GM has ever put out.
Chevrolet never intended on producing mass numbers of the Z-16 option due to the fact they wouldn't be able to produce the volume, in fact they didn't even advertise the option. Many Z-16s were given away to race winners, movie stars, or used as dealership promotional vehicles to develop an image for the Chevelle. However with a car like this, it's hard to keep a secret, and the word was out. When the ball dropped on Time Square in 2006, there were 201 Z-16 Chevelles out there-200 hardtops, and one convertible built for GM executive, Bunkie Knudsen
'67 Corvette L88
If you were ordering a new Corvette in 1967 and saw that the L71 427 engine was rated at 435 hp, and the L88 was only a 430hp engine, why would you order the L88? Simple-so you could have the fastest Corvette in town! But then there's the fact that maybe its because it was an aluminum block, cost twice as much as the L71, and was about 100 more horses powerful than its ratings. Of course, not everyone knew that, and Chevy kept its mouth shut. But for anyone who got to hear one run, they knew there was more than meets the eye. Nowadays, if you're lucky enough to own one of only 20 L88s ever produced, be prepared to live the good life.
'70 Chevelle LS6
Hailed as the pinnacle of the Chevelle craze is the '70 LS6 454 Chevelle. Not only did Chevy redesign certain aspects of the exterior for the new model year, they debuted the LS6 Chevelle, which is one of the fastest and nastiest Rat-powered cars of all time. The LS6 454 was conservatively rated at 450 hp with a ground shaking 500 lb-ft of torque. The new 454 marked the first time since 1965 that a displacement engine option in a Chevelle was available above and beyond the 396. Besides an 800-cfm Holley carburetor and aluminum low-rise intake manifold, the LS6-powered cars featured a fully functional cowl-induction hood that helped increase the pony count.
The modified hood meant two things: consumers were going to get the D88 sport stripe kit, which added a pair of hood and decklid stripes. Secondly, two NASCAR-style hood pins would hold down the hood. The 454 could be backed by either a M-40 Turbo Hydramatic 400 auto or the M-22 "Rock Crusher" Muncie four-speed. The Chevelles were also given the F41 suspension package that added a heavier front and rear stabilizer bar, as well as stiffer springs and shocks. For consumers looking to order a Chevelle with the LS6 454 option, it cost a mere $263.30.
However, on top of that came a $503.45 cost of the RPO Z-15 SS454 option and $147.45 for the cowl-induction hood. When all was said and done, the LS6 454 Chevelle sticker price was right there with a base model Corvette! Because of that, only 4,475 LS6 454-powered hardtops and convertible Chevelles were built. But considering the car was capable of turning in quarter-mile times in the low 13s at over 110 mph, I'd say it was worth the money!