100 Most Significant Chevys Of All Time

As the Centennial Celebration of Chevrolet approaches we count down the 100 most significant Chevrolets

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Sucs 110049 Years 051 1968 1969 Chevelle SS396 5/119


'68-69 Chevelle SS396 With a new fast back body style and chassis, the '68 and '69 SS396 Chevelles were the options of choice for buyers who wanted Camaro performance in a roomier, more family friendly car. Considered by many to be the best-looking and most muscular Chevelle to that point, the SS396 exploded in popularity. By 1969, it was finally able to surpass the Pontiac GTO as GM's best selling muscle car.

Sucs 110049 Years 52 1962 Dyno Don Nicholson 409 Bel Air 6/119


'62 Dyno Don Nicholson 409 Bel Air "Dyno" Don Nicholson was one of Chevys top racers in the '60s, driving the new 409s (and later Z-11s) against the best Ford and Chrysler could muster in the wildly popular Super Stock classes in NHRA competition. He was always one of the toughest racers to beat and at the '62 Winternational, Nicholson won the Mr. Stock Eliminator title, defeating Dave Strickler in the semifinals. He even won the Daytona Speedweek Drags held on the back stretch of Daytona Super Speedway. His '62 409 was a legend then and now.

Sucs 110049 Years 053 1970 COPO Yenko Deuce 7/119


1970 COPO/Yenko Deuce With insurance companies cracking down on high-powered big-block muscle cars with nose-bleed inducing rates, performance guru Don Yenko came up with a solution, using a little known COPO option in 1970 to get the new 360-horse LT-1 350 installed in the lightweight Nova. With similar performance to an L78 SS396, but small-block insurance rates, it meant horsepower-crazed adrenaline junkies could still get their tire shredding fix.

Sucs 110049 Years 054 1969 Camaro ZL 1 8/119


’69 Camaro ZL-1 The ultimate Camaro from the ’60s. Period. Built to dominate quarter-mile racing, it was twice the price of a normal big-block Camaro, and only 69 were built—just enough to gain legality with the NHRA. It was the ultimate Camaro ever built, and wouldn’t see a rival until Chevy announced the revival of the nameplate in 2012 for the new ultimate Camaro.

Sucs 110049 Years 055 1969 Camaro SS396 9/119


’69 Camaro SS396 For the masses, this was the top dog Camaro in ’69. The COPO 427 cars were hard to come by, and in the case of the ZL-1 financially out of reach for most. Some 13,970 SS396 Camaros were built in ’69, including 311 L89 aluminum-head 396 cars. It ruled the streets and dragstrips, and today is one of the most sought after and popular ’69 models for collectors.

Sucs 110049 Years 056 1967 Camaro SS RS396 10/119


’67 Camaro SS/RS396 The Camaro hit Chevy showrooms to an eager public ready for something that had more muscle than any Mustang available. With the L78 396 big block between the fenders, the new Camaro with its optional RS package and hidden headlights could clean the clock of Ford’s 390-powered pony car, and still have plenty left over for the Chrysler crowd.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 057 1966 Biscayne 427 11/119


’66 427 Biscayne With the SS396 hitting the Chevelle lineup, and the L79 Novas storming the streets, the sun was setting on high performance full size cars. One of the last gasps was the 427/425-hp-equipped ’66 Biscayne. Devoid of all the glitz, chrome, and heft of the Impala and Caprice, it was still a car to be reckoned with.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 058 1958 Impala 12/119


’58 Impala Aside from being one of the most questioned Chevys stylewise (with the ’57 Chevy setting new standards for looks the year before, many were puzzled with the direction Chevy took in ’58), the ’58 Impala was the first of the breed that would be in production for over 30 years, then reappear in the mid ‘90s to start another 10-plus year run in the Chevy lineup. One car we’d love to find today would be Bill Jenkins’ personal fuel-injected ’58 Impala, which he purchased new. What do you think that car would be worth?

Sucp 110801 Top 100 059 Mystery Motor 13/119


427 Mystery Motor stock car Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday. This mantra drove Chevy through the performance years. The Mystery Motor stock car hit the banks of Daytona in February of ’63 as the sneak preview to Chevy's newest high performance engine that would replace the venerable 348-409 series. It dominated qualifying at Daytona that year, setting a record pace at 164 mph. With a lack of development, however, it couldn’t stay together for all 500 miles. Then Chevy got out of racing and as a race engine, the 427 Mark II powerplant was stillborn. With changes for production, it became the Mark IV production big-block in ’65.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 060 Rod Saboury 1963 Pro Street Corvette 14/119


Rod Saboury's '63 Pro Street Corvette What makes Rod split-window coupe so notable is the fact it was the first honest-to-goodness street car to dip into the 6-second range. The radical C2 is powered by a twin-turbo Moran Racing Engine big-block surrounded by a super clean show car. Power windows, a stereo, cupholders and air conditioning are all present and accounted for. Not only has the car run 6.95 at 210 mph at the strip, Rod has driven it everywhere--he's even done the Woodward Dream Cruise slow crawl without overheating.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 061 First Gen Monte Carlo SS454 15/119


First-Gen Monte Carlo SS454 Fitted with a 360-horse big-block, the SS454 Monte was a land yacht with the heart of a flat bottom speedboat. Since the car was a blend of the Chevelle and the Cadillac Eldorado, it could cruise with the best of them and still allow you to be a deviant when you romped on the gas.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 062 Dave Strickler Old Reliable 1968 Camaro 16/119


Dave Strickler's "Old Reliable" '68 Camaro Dave Strickler won 16 national class championships, set 41 national and world records, and a captured an NHRA world championship title in the Jenkin's-prepared Z/28 Camaro. Back in '68 the car was tripping the lights at 11.70s at 116 mph. Most recently, the car was restored and raced by noted Camaro expert Jerry Macneish.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 063 First Gen Monte Carlo NASCAR Stocker 17/119


First-Gen Monte Carlo NASCAR Stocker After GM pulled the plug on all its racing activities in 1963, the Bow Tie brand became a non-entity in NASCAR's top-tier Grand National series. Then came the 1970-'72 Monte Carlo. Conceived as a luxury car, it became a force on the stock car circuit in the hands of legendary drivers like Benny Parsons (pictured).

Sucp 110801 Top 100 064 1984 Corvette 18/119


'84 Corvette In the spring on 1983, Chevy unveiled the first all-new Corvette in 20 years and the first major redesign since '68. The car retained the L83 Cross-Fire Injected small-block from '82, but received upgrades to everything else. Called the "most advanced production sports car on the planet," it had a high-tech suspension with front and rear fiberglass transverse leaf springs and forged aluminum suspension pieces. It took its place among the best handling cars in the world and production exploded to 51,547--the second-highest total in Corvette history.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 065 Nickey Camaro 19/119


Nickey Camaro Back in '67, Nickey Chevrolet of Chicago was the one of the premier Chevrolet dealers in the country. Beginning late in '66 Nickey decided to stuff the 427 from the Corvette under the Camaro's hood, which took an already potent car to the next level. Thinly veiled as street cars ,these were basically drag cars built by the dealer that anyone in the area could purchase on Friday and race on Saturday.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 066 Grumpy Vega 20/119


Grumpy's Vega Bill Jenkins' "Grumpy's Toy IV" Vega was the first tube chassis vehicle to run the Pro Stock class. The first time the car ran was at the '72 Winternationals and after tweaking on the suspension a bit he was able to win the event. In '74 Jenkins built another Vega, "Grumpy's Toy XI," that featured several firsts like the use of a dry sump oiling system and a MacPherson strut front-suspension configuration.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 067 1969 COPO 427 Chevelle 21/119


'69 COPO 427 Chevelle The Central Office Production Order system, or COPO normally filled special-equipment fleet orders. Somewhere along the line someone figured out they could use this system to get the L72 installed into cars that weren't offered with it. Unlike the Yenkos that screamed high performance, most of the COPO Chevelles looked deceptively docile yet still ran 13-second quarter-mile times.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 068 2012 Camaro ZL1 22/119


'12 Camaro ZL1 Way back in '69 Chevrolet released (in limited numbers) the ZL1 Camaro, which was a plain jane car powered by an all-aluminum 427 big-block. To regain some of the bragging rights from Ford's blown Shelby GT500, Chevy is now applying that moniker to the fifth-gen Camaro. The car will have the supercharged LSA V-8 borrowed from the Cadillac CTS-V and should be able to run a mid 12 second quarter-mile time. Not too shabby for a car with air bags, anti lock brakes and A/C.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 069 2005 Corvette 23/119


2005 Corvette The so-called C6 or sixth-generation of the Vette rolled off the line in '05. At the time it featured the most powerful small block Chevy had, the new 6.0L LS2 (400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque) and the most aerodynamic body, which put the Corvette on par with supercars costing a lot more. The C6 was 5-inches shorter and 1-inch narrower than its predecessor and was way more potent. Top speed was 186 mph and it could run easy mid-12-second e.t.s.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 070 C4 Corvette ZR 1 24/119


C4 ZR-1 The C4 ZR-1 was built to run with the world's fastest production cars. Chevy teamed up with Lotus to develop the LT5 all-aluminum small block, which featured dual-overhead cams, 32 valves and 16 fuel injectors. The ZR-1 also had expanded rear quarter panels to fit the 11-inch wide rear tires. The car could go from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, run 12.8 in the quarter-mile and had a top speed above 180 mph--staggering for the time. Unfortunately the high sticker price put the car out of reach of a lot of Chevy fans, but nontheless the car was and still is a milestone vehicle.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 071 Hayden Profitt 1962 409 02 25/119


Hayden Profitt '62 409 Hayden Proffitt was a big man out of West Texas and a giant among early '60s Chevy drag racers. He had one of the early 409-horse 409 Bel Airs in 1962 and made a mint drag racing it. Among his biggest victories was at the '62 U.S. Nationals at Indy, where he beat the fabled 413-powered Dodge Ramchargers factory team in the SS/S Eliminator final. The Ramchargers team was comprised mostly of Chrysler engineers, which made the victory by the 409 that much sweeter.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 072 Corvette C5 ZO6 26/119

72. C5 ZO6 The spiritual successor to the C4 ZR-1 the Z06 bested the ZR-1 in every respect except for top speed. It was quicker, lighter and ushered in a multitude of new technologies. Fitted with an LS6 that produced 405 horsepower and a six-speed trans, the ZO6 could run an 11.9 quarter and still pull 1.03 G's on the skid pad, making it not just a straight-line runner. As a matter of fact the ZO6 could get to 60 faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo.


C5R/C6R One of the most dominant cars in the GT racing category has been the C5R and C6R Corvettes. These were built by GM and Pratt & Miller specifically for this type of racing. Since the R series inception, American muscle has been a major player in racing events around the world and they rank as the most successful racecars in Corvette history. Thanks to the R series, any country with a race track knows the name Corvette!

Sucp 110801 Top 100 074 1961 Impala SS 29/119


'61 Impala SS The third Impala was the first car to wear the now-famous SS moniker. That alone makes it one of the best Chevy's produced. The car could be optioned with the 360-horse 409 (single four-barrel) and eventually won the hearts of The Beach Boys, who immortalized the car in a song in 1963.

Sucp 110801 Top 100 075 1963 Corvette Grand Sports 30/119


1963 Corvette Grand Sports When Shelby unleashed its new Cobra, Chevy was caught flat-footed. Its new '63 Corvette was a thousand pounds too heavy to be competitive on the race track so it engineered the now-famous Grand Sports. Initially proposed as a run of 125 cars to homologate it for competition against the Cobra, they carried everything Chevy knew about building a race car: four-wheel disc brakes, all-aluminum 377-inch engines, ultra-thin fiberglass and a race weight of between 1,900-2,100 lbs. Unfortunately, the Grand Sports were the victim of GM's decision to strictly adhere to the AMA's racing ban in 1963 and the program was cancelled after only five cars were built.




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