Breakdown of the 25 Best Muscle Cars to Own (Part 4b – General Motors – Chevrolet)


Chevrolet Division

Bel-Air 1954 to 1957

The Chevrolet Bel Air name is used from 1950 until 1981 and in the beginning it is a premium trip level for all models, but by 1954 Bel-Air is the top model in the Chevy full size line up. In 1958 a power option, the Impala, would later become the nameplate for the full size line-up, delegating the Bel-Air to an entry level model. All years were produced in large quantities so an original condition project car may still be found while an older restoration can be turned up easily. The models produced from 1954 until 1957 are among the most highly collectable. Of these, the 1957 occupies top spot in most collectors’ eyes, with the ‘55 and ’56 a close second and third. Any 1957 Bel-Air, fully restored, can easily cost $30,000.00 and up, but even the ‘57 models can occasionally be found in good condition, for around $15,000.00, or possibly much less, with a serious search.

1957 Bel Air 2(1) 1957 Bel Air 3


1957 Bel-Air

The last year of the first generation Bel-Air is 1954 and basically equipped with the “Blue Flame” in line 235 cu in OHV engine putting out 106 hp bolted to the standard transmission with a column mounted, three speed shift stick or an automatic could be optioned too. The Powerglide transmission equipped models would develop 115 hp (86 kW) and this 235 has solid lifters with full pressure lubrication. The ’54 is valued more than earlier versions because the crank shaft bearings are modern style, but earlier engines have babbit bearings which have to be poured during engine assembly.


The G2 Bel-Air is available in a full range of body styles, including, the very collectable Chevy Nomad station wagon. Any of the ‘55 to ’57 Chevy Bel-Airs have strong eye appeal with classic styling, and all are very desirable. For the ’55 to ’56 model years there are two six cylinder engines and two V8 power options available from the factory. The smaller engines use the two speed Powerglide automatic while the V8 choices would be bolted to the 3 speed Turoglide, for the customers that do not want the basic three speed standard transmission. The largest engine for the first two years of G2 is the 265, but in 1957 the 283 (4.6 L) is available for your new Bel-Air.

1960 Impala 2 (5)

Body panels and upholstery can be purchased off the shelf, in some cases, or special ordered with quick delivery from a number of aftermarket suppliers. Panels can be found identical to the originals or lighter weight fiberglass, aluminum or even carbon fiber are in production or can be special ordered.

1970 Impala 5(1)

Modern style disc brake kits are available to improve stopping ability and complete electrical upgrades to today’s standards can be done. There is a large variety of factory correct power plants and drive chain options to choose from to get the performance, brand new, from the vast GM arsenal. Additionally, Interchangeable high performance after market accessories are now in production to make your restoration deliver a bit more than the original. There is also a pool of an ever shrinking supply of original parts still on dealers and collectors shelves.




Chevrolet Camaro

The 1967 Camaro is on the GM compact car “F” platform, initially shared with the Nova, but the Camaro offers more; the lines of a sports car, modern styling and also practical. The Camaro is a perfect car to compete with Chevy’s rival, Ford and it’s Mustang, introduced on Fords similar compact platform two years earlier. The Camaro is a nice responsive car to drive, high performance and there are Chevy dealers located everywhere to help keep you mobile, making the Camaro a popular choice to restore.

67 Camaro 6

The first three generations of the Camaro are all collectable, but the earlier G1 editions or a special performance package from almost any year, generally, will command the highest price. You can expect to pay upwards of $15,000.00 even for an older restoration, a newly refurbished G1 Camaro may fetch well over $100,000 in US funds for the most desirable models. There are low priced Camaro’s yet to find parked in garages or stored in a forgotten rural barn, but rare as finding that needle in the hay stack. You can do your homework thoroughly, exercise patience, finding the right Camaro project car at the right price is another way, but its tedious work.


The fact “Research is a key to a successful Camaro restoration.” is true, but without doubt the best way to find a Camaro, in the near future, at a fair market price, is through a Camaro car club chapter located near you. On all the Camaro club sites, you will find an event calendar. Check this calendar for the “When & Where’s” of upcoming meetings, drive byes or show and shine gatherings. Most clubs will likely also have week-end long parts swap rodeo in a party atmosphere, to show off, and sometimes sell their Camaro. The long gatherings will have loads of parts, including unusual hard to find stock goodies from vender booths. You will get the opportunity to talk to other MCF skillful back yard mechanics, body restorers, machinists and other MCF for advice or one of any number of professional specialists plying their trade. These events are held once or twice a year in all parts of our country and are a very relaxed, fun way to find peace of mind while acquiring a piece for your muscle car. All Camaro fans and owners are welcomed to visit and even partake in activities alongside the club member’s vehicles; all are these folks are Camaro MCF’s – any year or model could be around to admire and talk about.

1968 Camaro 2

The Camaro has been in constant production, aside from a five year hiatus between the G4 and G5 version, as of 2015. These late arrivals may also be an option, but they do not qualify as vintage or collector vehicles until they are either twenty or twenty five years old, by rule of thumb, for most jurisdictions. Many of these newer models, may however, be collectable, now, at a lower price, rather than an inflated one later, if you want to speculate.


Related see Firebird:

Camaro 1969 plus SCCA Racing and the COPO Version

Camaro RS / SS / Z28 options 1967 to 1969

Chevy Camaro 2011 to 2013

Chevy Camaro

CHEVY CAMARO conception-prototypes

Chevrolet Camaro 1967 to 2002


Chevrolet Chevelle


Three generations of the mid-sized Chevelle were assembled by GMC Chevrolet Division between 1964 and 1977; all of them classics, making any model a prospective keeper.


The Chevelle is one of the biggest successes that GMC and Chevrolet Division have ever marketed with millions manufactured in a full range of body styles over the 13 year production run. Needless to say, the choicest models have two doors, large engines and were produced from 1964 to 1970, are most highly sought after by collectors and have the highest base price which reflects demand. The first two generations, till 1973 may have the nicest lines, but NASCAR Chevy teams liked and raced the G3 Chevelle widely through the last half of the 70’s with success.


The V8 engine offers in G1 are the 396 big block and the 283 and 327 small blocks. For the G2, power options are expanded, adding two small blocks, the 307 and the iconic 350, while the big blocks additionally include a 400, a 402 and the 454. Offers in G3 are decreased, with the 454, 402 big block now gone and the small block 327 is also axed. The transmissions available throughout the production years are a 3 or 4 speed standard and the 2 or 3 speed automatic units, although G3 drops the two speed automatic from the options sheet. The body parts and panels for any Chevelle are widely available and if the car is returned to original factory specifications it will remain, forever, a hedge against inflation for you.


The Hardtop or convertible models from the last half of G2, (71 or 72) are a lower priced purchase option with EPA mandated pollution controls taking effect, but any year can be acquired easily, then driven home for $15,000 going upward to $100,000.00 for the more rare muscle. I did find a couple of numbers matching early Chevelle two door hard tops, looking very clean, for under $10,000.00. The asking price will give some indication of the vehicles condition and I also turned up two 1977 Chevelle models for under $3,000.00 touted as “rust free” and “a good project car” in a half hour search on-line. I could not, however find any of the highly prized and powerful Yenko Chevelle for sale anywhere. An auction house would be a good place to find one, or other rare unit, just make certain your pockets are full if you plan on making a bid.




Chevrolet Chevelle Third Generation 76-77

Chevrolet Chevelle Third Generation 1974-1975

Chevrolet Chevelle third generation 1973

Chevrolet Chevelle 1970-1972 Second Generation part 2

Chevrolet Chevelle Second Generation part one 1968-1970

Chevrolet Chevelle First Generation 1964 to 1967

Chevrolet Malibu 1964 to 1977


Chevrolet Corvair

To a purist, the Chevrolet Corvair is not a muscle car, but it is agile on mountain roads, it can go fast, and will get you up to speed quick. The car is fun to drive, simply put.

Chevrolet Corvair (2)

© Tomatika | Chevrolet Corvair 700 Photo

The Corvair is a compact car made in the USA from 1960 through 1969. With a large number sold; it was a windfall for Chevy. There were more than 1.2 million that rolled off the assembly line in the first six production years; all the traditional two and four door models including a station wagon are available. Chevrolet also offers the sporty Monza Spyder, a pick-up or a passenger van are all offered in some select years. The car is powered by a rear mounted air cooled six cylinder engine and is the only mass produced vehicle of this type ever successfully marketed in the USA. The optional gas heater will warm the passenger compartment immediately; making chilly morning starts more comfortable is a very unique, attractive feature.

Chevrolet Corvair

© Tomatika | Chevrolet Corvair 700 Photo

The first generation Corvair entry level 500 is Spartan, and the 569 and 769 more uptown; all are powered by the Turbo Air six which could be coupled to a three speed standard transmission or the added cost option, a two speed Powerglide automatic. The engine develops 80 hp (60 kW) and will accelerate as quickly as the full sized entry level six cylinder Biscayne, but by February 1960, a higher performance version of the engine can be purchased. This unit kicks the performance up to 95 hp (71 kW), developed at 4,800 rpm and producing 125 lb-ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm. The more powerful engine is RPO 649 and was available for any Corvair of the time, but could only be installed with the standard transmission. In 1962 a convertible is offered for the first time and the high performance Monza Spyder, with the same six cylinder engine, supercharged, will deliver 150 hp (112 kW). Optional performance equipment includes Metalic brake linings, heavy duty suspension featuring; front roll bar, beefed up springs, plus calibrated shock absorbers. The most popular model was the Monza coupe, with 151,738 units out of the total production of 292,531 that year. The supercharged engine is not available in 1965 and is replaced by a normally aspirated carburetor system and now puts out 140 hp (134 kW). The fuel to this engine is supplied by an uconventional four single throat carburetor system, larger valves and the duel exhaust pipes for lower back pressure.

Chevrolet Corvair interior

© Tomatika | Chevrolet Corvair 700 Photo

There are many cars available today. My half hour internet search produced:

– On eBay, a Monza Spyder for under $17,000

– Other listings. Many clean looking Monza/Corsa Corvair 5,000-34,000.
– Low end was an intriguing “used” Corvair for less then $2,000

The Corvair was first car that Don Yenko chose to modify for the track and one Yenko Stinger put out 240 hp. There are many clubs devoted to the Corvair making a huge support and parts network at your disposal.



Chevrolet Corvair – 1960 to 1969


Chevrolet Corvette

The Chevrolet Corvette was introduced to the public in 1954 and remains in production to this day, now in the seventh generation. Any of them are worthy collector cars, but with a high initial cost. G3 may be the most affordable and easy to locate. There were more than 133,000 Corvette models sold during the G3 and from 1968 until 1972. Only about 55,000 of those were convertibles and the balance are coupes, during the four year production run. The ’69 Corvette production numbers were way down, due to a strike that year, with only 17,316 units leaving the assembly line. The G2 and G3 are among the best styled Corvette`s with an “in your face” attitude and a forceful image. American muscle at its best.

Chevrolet Corvette 1980 (3)

From 1968 onward, your hard top can be optioned sporting the newly introduced “T” roof with two removable panels. The G3 engine and chassis components are very similar to the G2 offerings, although the body and interior have both received a make-over. Conventional rear exit dual exhaust is standard in the G3, but side pipes are a factory option only in 1969, for this generation.


The new base engine for ’68 is the exceptionally well-engineered small block 350 cu in (5.7 L) putting out 300 bhp (224 kW) to replace the 327 as the entry level. Some would call the 350 the best small block engine ever produced; it’s still in production and available in a crate version, through the “Mr. Goodwrench” brand, manufactured in Mexico. A new high performance engine is the all-aluminum ZL1 and this develops 560 bhp (420 kW) allowing a “vette so equipped, to do the standing quarter mile in 10.89 seconds. Small block engine output peaks in 1970 with the high compression, high revving, LT-1, putting out 370 bhp (276 kW). Optionally available, ’70-’72 inclusive, is the 454 cu in (7.44 L) engine, produced from the 427 big block. This is the LT-1 engine and combined with the ZR-1 performance package will allow the engine to be race ready, but is a rare find with only 53 units produced.

Chevrolet Corvette 1963 to 67 2G (5)

Any well maintained “vette will command a high resale price, but this price is based on demand. However, with a half hour internet search, I found prices ranging from $13,000 to $75,000, although $15,000-30,000 seemed to be a rough average asking price. I perceive that these prices are all on the high end. It should not be a challenge to find one to fill your needs in or around the $10,000.00 range, possibly much less if you have time to search more thoroughly. The Corvette Cubs of America have chapters throughout the USA with events and meetings held regularly, these events may well be the best place to locate a project car, at a fair market price. New reproduction parts are widely available with a large support network of clubs and retailers that specialize in Corvettes to keep you mobile with a minimum hassle. General Motors will also have a large inventory of crate engines in various sizes and a good supply of the drive chain components you may need, to keep you mobile.

Chevrolet Corvette 75-76-77 (6)



Chevroloet Corvette 1968-1982 Third Generation

Corvette—The Beginning, 1951 to 1962

Corvette 1984 to 1996

ray 1967 Plus the L88 Option (’67-’69)

Corvette C5 1997-2004

2014 Corvette Stingray and Z51

Chevrolet Corvette Second Generation the Mid Years


Chevrolet Nova


A stock Chevy Nova can be powered by a not so little engine that could leave almost every big boy toy eating dust or in a cloud of smoke and smelling rubber. For all the above reasons the Nova is a perfect muscle car to own and rewarding restoration for a fan. Economy is the targeted market of the 1960 Chevy II when introduced, but towards mid-year 1960 the Nova could be powered by a seldom chosen 327 engine. The cost of the option would almost double the base price, making one of these a very rare find today. The compact and modest 1960 Chevy II is introduced as no frills transportation for the budget minded family. This is how it remains, until the 1962 model year when that same cute, but sedated looking family car, could have a 396 under the hood – a perfect sleeper for your enjoyment. However, the engine is not installed at the factory it is offered as a dealer option only.


Almost any engine in the GM arsenal can be bolted into your Nova and coupled to the appropriate transmission. In 1963 the Chevy II can be all dress up with RPO Z03 – a Nova SS trim package, but is only available for the upscale 400 series sport coupe.


There are still more reasons, as to why, a Nova is a good car to acquire for your first or last project. There have been literally millions of Chevy II or Nova models produced over a 14 year period. The 1962 Chevy II attracted people to showrooms from all walks of life, and production numbers rose almost yearly to a high of around 350,000 units in ’74 when production ceased. In 1972 the power option is a two barrel allowing the 350 to develop a meager 200 bhp making the factory muscle Nova past tense by ‘72.

The internet has a very large selection of Nova/Chevy models to buy right now with most in the $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 range up to the highest at around $250,000.00. There are many listed today for under $1,500.00 in as is condition and a good list of older restorations or original cars between $5,000 and $15,000.00.

The most inexpensive project car you might find could be a half finish one with an owner that has ran out of interest, cash and/or time. Please know and remember if you tackle a ground up restoration of any vehicle, it can turn into a much higher bottom line plus over a longer time span than you anticipated. Don’t get to the point where some of the higher priced restorations listed above, will begin to look like a bargain. A most pleasing situation is to find a good solid Nova, with a good engine, tight drive chain, at the right price and then drive the car home. Keep driving the car, proceed slowly with restoring, get a feel for the vehicle. Enjoy driving your car, maintain or improve it while on the go will give you the most enjoyment.



Alf’s 1965 Chevy II Nova SS—A Member’s Muscle Car

Chevy II to Chevrolet Nova—The Third Generation 1968-1970

Chevy II to Chevrolet Nova second Generation 1966-1967

Chevrolet Chevy II plus the Nova SS-1962 to ’65

Chevrolet Nova 1971 to 1974 (G3 ’68-’74)

Chevrolet Chevy II Origins to 1965 – the First Generation

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