What are the five most influential Chevys of all time? Could there even be a list with only five? That’s like asking somebody what his or her favorite rock band is—impossible. I’m sure that most people would go right for an LS6 Chevelle, a COPO Camaro, or even a Black Widow ’57.
For me, none of those cars are on my list. The list I’m talking about includes the handful of cars that were forever burned into our memory during our formative years. The kinds of cars that branded us as a die-hard gearhead for life. There are no correct answers and I’m certainly not expecting a collective agreement on my five. It’s more personal. Here are mine:
Bob Falfa’s Black 1955 Chevy
Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, I was exposed to some of the coolest movie and TV cars. The Dukes’ Charger and Burt’s Trans Am got my attention. But when Bob Falfa’s ’55 from American Graffiti entered my life cruising down Main St., USA, with its sinister black paint and perfect stance, it was over for me. So much so, my first car had to be a ’55 sedan.
Kevin Reeder’s 1967 Camaro RS/SS
I was 14 and Kevin was a few years older and much cooler than I was. He had this heavily optioned Camaro that was perfect right down to the gold-center Enkei wheels. Being distant family, I was fortunate enough to hang out with him a few times a year. One Friday night he took me for a ride down to 82nd in Portland. It was one of those places covered in Car Craft’s Cruising USA series. That night was one of the greatest of my young life, riding shotgun in the nicest car out that night. The fact that we got in big-time trouble for being out so late is trivial. I will be forever grateful to Kevin for that experience.
Bob Mehlhoff’s 1956 Chevy
Bob had this done-right classic Shoebox. It was a quick little how-to article in Car Craft. Bob took advantage of some old parts laying around from other projects; stuff like a Chevelle 12-bolt, a hefty small-block, Cragars, and slicks. He threw it all together and made a respectable street racer. What made it right was this clean, little two-toned understated car was built during a time of overdone street machines. Rumor has it the car is still in his garage.
Steve Frost’s 1972 Nova
Steve is a guy I went to high school with. He was a little older and had a handful of cool cars so we instantly became friends. In those days I could pick out a dozen cars in the school parking lot that had an impact on my life but Steve’s car rises to the top. Why? It was super-clean, candy painted deep red, wore Center Lines, and he was one of the first guys I saw run 3.5-inch skinnys on the street. Even without its looks, this car wins out because of the sound of that nasty 427 under full throttle.
Mike Sader’s 1955 Chevy
I got my license and immediately went to work at a local restoration shop. One hot summer afternoon I took a break and hit the magazine rack at the local store. I spotted this cover car: a wicked, yellow-flamed ’55 Chevy. It had everything right. Sporting the perfect wheels, stance, and highly detailed big-block power. But what stopped me in my tracks was finding out the car came from my hometown. Mike was instantly elevated to rock star status. I later met Mike and he would let me tag along on various adventures. He was the one who introduced me to Gary Meadors and the crazy cool car scene of Northern California. Mike and I are still good friends today. I owe much to him; he’s always encouraging and pushing me to be a better version of myself. That yellow ’55 is still around ripping up the pavement a quarter-mile at a time. It might still hold the title of landing the most magazine covers with a total of five, but that doesn’t matter to me. It’s just Mike’s ’55.
Scott Sullivan’s 1955 Chevy
I know this makes six ... but I have to mention Scott’s ’55 Chevy dubbed Cheese Wiz. During a time when people were chroming inner fenders and hood hinges and applying miles of fake AN blue hose covering, Scott shouted from the rooftops ... Stop, there’s a better way! He backed up that statement with one of the cleanest ’55s ever built. Three decades later the car is still makes a statement.
There are other cars that left a major impact on my young, impressionable mind. A few are the black Camaro from Better Off Dead; Project X, the ’57 Chevy Tony Danza wheeled in Hollywood Knights; and the ’69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads, and a Hurst on the floor from Bruce Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street.”
These cars take me back to a simpler time. Now, as a father of three, husband to an amazing wife, and a business to run, to say that life is busy would be an understatement. When I think about these days gone by and my influential Chevy list, each car brings a smile to my face.
What Chevys make your list? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hit up Chris Holstrom on Instagram at @chrisholstromconcepts.