There’s not much more admirable than being in business for one hundred years. Today, Chevrolet reaches that milestone, and we tip our hats in humble respect to the legendary car brand founded in 1911 by Louis Chevrolet, a Swiss-born American race car driver of French descent.
In its first 100 years of existence, Chevy has built enduring classics, barbaric muscle cars and Herculean trucks. The brand has ingrained itself into pop culture by being featured in TV shows, movies and music. (In fact, I highly recommend assembling a playlist consisting of these songs while reading the rest of this post.)
While there’s been a few stinkers thrown into Chevy’s mix along with a bankruptcy and lots of controversy surrounding everything from its leadership to its quality, no one can deny that Chevy is primed for the future after a highly successful, and influential, past.
There have been so many great Chevy vehicles over the years that any single model being labeled as the best ever will generate a passionate response. While personally I like the ’69 Camaro, it wouldn’t be my choice for the best bowtie ever. The ’63 Corvette? Perhaps. The ’36 Suburban? It started a revolution. The ’09 ‘Vette ZR1? Pure insanity. Some might cast their vote for something more modest, such as an ’05 Malibu if it has served faithfully as a loyal and reliable family hauler. Or a modern Silverado if it happened to save a life after an accident. A ’55 Bel Air and the all-new small-block V8 might be chosen based on innovation of an incredible engine.
My point is, there are as many reasons to label a car as “best ever” as there are Chevy models in existence and people who buy them.
My choice for best Chevy ever goes to the 1970 Chevelle SS. Maybe it’s because a friend in high school had one and we spent hours under the hood examining it and customizing it. I remember installing new headers and then pulling it into our shop class and starting it up, listening to that 454-cubic-inch V8 gurgle and roar. I can still remember the smell of that car and the visual of the engine running with the hood propped up. In my mind, that Chevelle was the epitome of Chevrolet.
These days, of course, cars like the Chevelle are mostly the stuff of nostalgia. The new Camaro would no doubt be a heap of fun in a shop class, but I highly doubt there would be much in the way of simple customizations to take pride in.
As the future of cars begins to descend upon us, I’m a bit worried that the raw emotion associated with cars of the past will begin to fade away. I can’t imagine a group of high schoolers ogling and lusting after the newest electric motor or future kids listening in awe to the exhaust note of a classic Volt.
If Chevy has proven anything over the last hundred years, though, it’s that the cars will always be built with a certain level of passion and will invoke the spirit of Louis Chevrolet whenever possible.
Next up? The long-awaited C7 Corvette. I might be ready to replace that Chevelle on my “best ever” list…
What’s your favorite Chevrolet ever?