The 5 best Chevy muscle cars that aren’t Camaros


It’s still mind blowing that Pontiac jumped in front of Chevrolet and invented the muscle car (according popular opinion, at least). The 1964 GTO, created by Pontiac Chief Engineer John DeLorean and two of his senior assistants, Bill Collins and Russ Gee, basically caught their rivals at Chevrolet and the rest of the industry asleep in their product planning meetings. Those guys realized the 389-cubic-inch engine from Pontiac’s full-size model would fit in the new smaller and lighter 1964 Tempest. Then they added a name stolen from Ferrari and combined that performance with image.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/04/03/the-best-chevy-muscle-cars-that-arent-camaros


With the affection for the BBC evident in every reference to Chevy muscle cars there is a little Chevy car that could outrun all of them. While the big block Chevelles were lingering around in the B/Stock classes of the day the L79 small block powered Chevy ll of 1966 was kicking butt in A/Stock racing the likes of Sox and Martin, the Ramchargers, and other hemi powered Chryslers. The line between traditional muscle cars, that being a mid sized automobile with a big engine, has become blurred over time and now Camaros have become muscle carsas well as the Mustang. So if we can allow the pony car class into the hallowed definition of muscle car we can certainly allow the compact Chevy ll which was outrunning all of the others in the mid 60’s.


Agreed ! The 1966-67 Nova SS with the 350 hp 327 & Muncie 4 speed was a giant killer. A lot of the early Z28 Camaro trick suspension and brakes bolts right on, so they made decent canyon carvers as well. Of course now, with all the great aftermarket stuff out there, one could easily build a street touring version that would handle and brake better than the Camaros and Mustangs that ran in the Trans Am series in the late 60s - early 70s. I always thought the 66-67s were the best looking Novas.


What is not well known is that big and small block Chevy engines were being installed in Pontiacs in the 1960’s…the Pontiacs built in Canada under model names such as “Parisienne” and “Laurentian”…Canadian full size Pontiacs used Chevy frames, suspensions and some interior components such as consoles, steering columns and steering wheels…these full size Pontiacs did not have the “wide track” look and used standard 4.75" bolt pattern wheels…the legendary 409 may have existed throughout Canadian model year 1965 even though Chevrolet had the new 396 in production and cancelled the 409 option in the early spring…these Chevy big block Canadian Pontiacs are quite rare today and very collectible


I bought a 1970 Chevelle LS6 new. I raced it in Pure Stock with a best of 12.81 at 110 mph. This was legal Pure Stock, no headers, street tires (G60’s front and rear) and the most I ever had apart on the engine were the valve covers to check and adjust valve clearance. By the end of 1971 (last year for NHRA Pure Stock), the car ran 13.0’s and high 12’s every run. I never lost a heads-up race in class, including several Hemi’s and Corvettes.


In 1968 they had a 325 horse/327 in the Nova that had the same specs as the 350/327 in the 66/67 Novas but it had the smog air pump and a Quadrajet carburetor. I had one with the close ration 4 speed tranny and 3:73 posi rear end…


The '63-'65 Novas were the lightest Novas built of any year. They only became heavier as the years went on. So, if you want to build a quick car, these are the ticket, and they don’t cost as much as the '66/'67 cars. Lots of aftermarket parts, too.


Back in 1966, a co-worker had a 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix convertible that came factory equipped with the 425 hp 409 & a 4 speed. Lost track of him after he got a draft notice and returned to his native Canada.


The 1965 Acadian Beaumont also sported the L79 327ci/350hp Corvette engine. GM documentation shows only 23 65 Beaumonts were built with this engine.


Nova SS with the same engine & 4 spd. The Corvette also came with the 365 HP 327, which had

solid lifters where the 350HP used hydraulics. I used a 350 HP cam & Johnson 7,000 rpm lifters

in my 283 - we had to grind an oil groove in the back journal of the camshaft to make the '57 block

oil properly.

There were several of the 350 HP Novas around by Oct of '66, when I left for SE Asia- the owners

loved whipping up on the guys with the 396 Chevelles and GTOs !