Chevrolet Offers a Look to the Past
Looking to the past often shows us the road we have traveled that has shaped our present and may help to give a reasonable look into the future. Throughout the hundred years Chevrolet has been making vehicles, there have been several models that have helped to guide and mold the direction of the iconic automaker. Even though some models may have been considered experimental or flops in their own right, Chevrolet offers us a look at twenty-four vehicles that have shaped the brand from its earliest days to today.
1914 Chevrolet Royal Mail Roadster
As one of the first models to carry the signature bowtie badge, the Royal Mail Roadster included many Chevrolet attributes of the time, which had not been rolled out in one car at the time. The Royal Mail offered a great look and had a reliable four-cylinder engine along with a top, windshield and speedometer which were considered accessories on other cars, the price of $750 for the entire car was a modest price even for those days.
1932 Chevrolet Sport Roadster
This Roadster was offered as the “Great American Value” car and cost a mere $445 to purchase. This car included chrome accents and a “rumble seat” for two in the rear deck. The engine was a well-performing six-cylinder overhead—valve engine and the synchromesh transmission was made to help eliminate gear clash. Offered during the Great Depression, the Sport Roadster is still considered a fan favorite among many.
1936 Chevrolet Suburban
Many of us may think the SUV concept is one that hasn’t been around long, but Chevrolet had a Suburban as early as 1936. As the grandfather to the modern SUVs, this Suburban offered a steel bodied, truck based vehicle that was made to be larger than the “woodie” station wagons of the times. The mission of this long time SUV was to carry people and their gear to the remote destinations, not unlike the purpose of Suburbans of today.
1948 Chevrolet Pickup
This was the pickup that most of America fell in love with after World War II. With the three across seating and the Advance Design concept, this truck became an instant classic. The driveline onboard had been used during the war and proved itself to be fitting to take on just about any task. This truck quickly became the farmer’s and tradesman’s friend and was considered by many families when looking for a second vehicle.
1949 Chevrolet Canopy Express
This truck was unique in its design and purpose, but offered the perfect vehicle for a rolling market delivery service or a roadside vending stand. With the open sides access to the cargo was easy, but with the fully intact roof the product was easily protected, making for the best vehicle to carry produce or other perishable items to homes and markets alike.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette
Using a fiberglass body construction and a design by Harley Earl the Corvette was born in 1953. This was the first attempt at giving the world a true American sports car and the engine underneath was a beefed up six-cylinder to start with. This model gave enough joy and excitement to the massed to become a production racing car by 1956 which would give any race car on the planet a great run, launching the Corvette into the high performance and high powered fray for generations to come.
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
Showing up at a time when the Chevrolet lineup, save the Corvette, was very boring. The Bel Air was long, beautiful, offered a V8 engine and could be had in a two-tone paint color, giving credence to the American optimism. As a car that was an instant hit, the Bel Air was introduced as Rock and Roll was gaining popularity, somewhat of a coincidence, but fortune favors the lucky at times and this car was the highlight of the mid-1950s for Chevrolet.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad
Built and offered as the premier “halo” model station wagon for the Chevrolet lineup, the Nomad has taken a special place in the heart of America. Because the suburbs of America were gaining more and more station wagons, Chevrolet brought the Nomad which offered a unique and elegant body style that has never quite gone out of style.
1963 Chevrolet Impala
As a car that became an instant hit the Impala was a great car that collectors still love today. The subject of the Beach Boys song the 409-cid big-block V8 was the talk of the times pumping out 425 horsepower which was huge at the time. The 1963 Impala also offered the 284 and 327 engines to give some choices and was available with even a six-cylinder model, making it one of the most versatile vehicles of the time. This car could even be fitted with the Super Sport Package with gave it some special features such as front bucket seats with a console. The 409 engine was and still is a fan favorite though and the Impala was the car that had it for all to enjoy.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray “Split-Window” Coupe
Even though the Corvette had already enjoyed a decade of success and was the most popular sports car of the times and certainly a favorite of the American astronauts, the 1963 Sting Ray shook the world. The awesome design that was sleek, low slung and having the unique split-window design made this car the greatest production racer of the times. Not only did it look great, but it also offered a new independent rear suspension, a fuel-injected small block V8, and was more affordable than the imports that couldn’t keep up.
1967 Chevrolet Pickup
This truck model offered a leaner and cleaner look all around and the rounded wheel wells were a new feature that gave the truck a great new look. Appearing lower than previous models the 1967 Pickup was designed to get the job done and it did so in a masterful way. The design was also made to attract the crowd that wanted to have a great pickup that would be good for recreational or personal use rather than just hauling and working.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro
This is the model that shook the sports car scene and gave Camaro the story that carries on today. As a four-seater sports car the Camaro was not taking on the Trans-Am racing circuit and ready to win a championship as well as being featured as the Indy 500 pace car. The 1969 Camaro offered an iconic design and style that blends sports car with muscle car and carries forward to the Camaros of today.
1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS
At the time the El Camino had enjoyed a fairly successful run, but the 1970 model which could be had with SS styling and performance packaging made the headlines even better for this car/truck combination. Add the SS features to the El Camino allowed the car to reach into the muscle car status and be an active participant in an era of the big-block V8 engines.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
When we talk of muscle cars this is the premier car discussed for the height of the era. The 1970 Chevelle SS offered a 454-cid engine that was the biggest ever for Chevy. This gave the car 450 horsepower and the ability to reach 100 mph in just 13 seconds. This car is considered the king of the muscle cars and is still the car chosen to build in garages all across America when enthusiasts choose to build their own version of this awesome car.
1971 Chevrolet C/10 Cheyenne Pickup
The popularity of the truck had become so hard to ignore that by 1971 Chevrolet produced 739,478 trucks, a majority of which were the half ton models. The most popular model was the 2WD C/10 and the Cheyenne package game truck owners a premium trim package they loved which offered interior style and comfort that had not been present on trucks of the past.
1976 Chevrolet C/10 Stepside Pickup
The stepside pickup has been around since 1958, but gained popularity in the 1970s as truck owners needed more capability and this step on the side in front of the rear fender allowed owners to reach items in the front of the bed easily. Other than function, the stepside gave the pickup a look that was unique and attractive at the same time, bringing more fans to the Chevrolet dealerships for a stepside truck.
1989 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1
During this year the Corvette took a European tour and showed off with a power and performance that had been unmatched to that point. The car was one of the first to offer amazing speeds and performance to the redline where many other sports cars would give up well before reaching that point. The ZR-1 distinction would be reborn in 2009 after a successful run from 1990-1995.
1993 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Not only was this the year the fourth generation of the Camaro arrived, giving us the premier sports car that would also be the Indy pace car, but it gave us a newly styled car that offered a look that can be enjoyed to some degree even today. To celebrate this fourth time at Indy, the Camaro offered and Indy package in 1993 and sold 645 of these models that showed up with awesome performance and a colorful array of pinstripes.
1996 Impala SS
This marked the end of the rear drive full size sedan for Chevrolet and the end of an era of having a family sedan that really performed well and was powered by a sports car engine. The last of the Impala SS models built in 1996 now resides at the GM Heritage Center and shows off as the end of an era of the powerful sedans that once were offered in the mid to late 1990s.
1997 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
This model marked the beginning of the extremely rugged and strong structural design for the Corvette. Not only was this car able to take a beating, the transmission was mounted on the rear axle giving a 50-50 front-to-rear weight distribution to help with the amount of command and control a driver would have with this car. The C5 as it was called for the fifth generation, could reach 170 mph and was powered by the new LS1 small block V8 engine which pushed this amazing iconic American sports car hard toward the finish line.
2008 Chevrolet Hybrid Tahoe
This was the first year a two-mode hybrid system was used on a full-size SUV and what better than a Tahoe to perform the task. The technology was fairly new, having only recently been thought if in 2004 and originally showed up in small cars that were built to be hybrids. This movement to the full-size SUV showed a definitive trend that would allow automakers to use the hybrid system in just about any vehicle.
2010 Chevrolet Camaro
Whether seen in the Transformers movies or as it was first witnessed as a concept at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, this version of the Camaro brought the muscle and sports car worlds to their knees with a car that gave a nod to the style from the late 1960s but has all the advanced and modern features of today. Adding the ZL1 model to the lineup allows this Camaro to outperform many other sports cars on the road.
2011 Chevrolet Volt
With electric power for the first fifty miles after a full charging, the Volt offered the ability to go up to an additional 300 miles from the gas powered generator when needed. This car was so popular and lauded it won several awards and has been considered to be one of the most innovative cars built in the past ten years. Chevrolet estimates more than two-thirds of the miles driven by Volt owners so far have been completely on electric power.
2012 Chevrolet Corvette Centennial Edition
How better to celebrate 100 years than to take your most popular and powerful model and make a special edition. This special edition of the Corvette offered a ton of carbon fiber parts and a monochrome look that gives it a modern touch and a fantastic appearance. Since the inception of the Corvette in the 1950s, the model has won more awards than any other American sports car model and it only makes sense for Chevrolet to enjoy its history with such a car.
From the beginning just over 100 years ago to today, Chevrolet has been giving us some amazing vehicles to admire. Whether it was for moving a family around, having a car that was inexpensive, being able to get a job done, the thrill and fun of a high performing sports car, Chevrolet has given us everything we have asked for and more.