Should you have opened your newspaper on this day in 1963, you may have come across an ad for a brand new Chevrolet, the Chevelle. Officially introduced by Bunkie Knudsen at a press conference the next day, the Chevelle was the only all new US car for the 1964 model year. (But what about the ’64 1/2 Mustang!? All Mustangs were marketed and VINed as 1965). Chevelle, which is Hebrew for “My god is a vow,” or bold and beautiful, was designed to fill the gap between the smaller Chevy II and Chevrolet’s full sized models. In its first year 338,286 left dealer lots.
The Chevelle was available in two door, four door, convertible and wagon variants throughout its production run, which lasted until 1977. The Chevelle propelled Chevrolet into the muscle car field with the introduction of the Super Sport package in 1964. Initially available with a 220 horsepower 283 V8, a 327 with up to 300 horsepower became available midway through ’64. Horsepower jumped to 350 for 1965. That same year there were 201 Malibu SS 396 ‘Z-16’ Chevelles built, including the prototype and one special order convertible for Bunkie Knudsen himself. There are 75 surviving examples known at the time of writing.
Second Generation Chevelle (’68-’72)
The second generation Chevelle was introduced for 1968. It received an all new body style featuring a long hood and a short deck, providing a more aggressive appearance. Base Chevelles were equipped with the 230 cubic inch inline six but 1970 Chevelles could be had with Chevy’s new 454 cubic inch V8 for the first time. Of the 454 cars built that year, 4,475 of them were equipped with the LS6 version of the engine. This was the largest GM engine ever installed in a passenger car.
Third Generation Chevelle (’73-’77)
The third and final generation of the Chevelle was introduced in 1973. In the midst of the oil crisis and growing emissions regulations, the Chevelle, like all cars of the era, suffered. A European influenced redesign saw the car lose many of its sporty characteristics and convertibles were no longer offered. The car was now available only as a two door post coupe or a four door wagon. These options were in large part due to growing safety regulations regarding rollover crashes. The 454 big block was discontinued halfway through 1975, but it was hardly a shadow of its previous self. The Chevelle nameplate was discontinued following 1977.