With over a hundred years of automotive manufacturing to its name, Chevrolet has built some of the most memorable automobiles of all time, making a trip through its online archives an absolute joy. The bowtie brand has changed a lot over the years, and while a handful of models are probably best forgotten, the iconic automaker is as relevant as ever, and about as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and a big red Silverado truck.
All it takes is a trip to a small town parade anywhere in America for this fact to be hammered home. As American gearheads, we pride ourselves on our historical articles of vehicular memorabilia, and we love nothing more than seeing classic cars out there rolling alongside modern technological masterpieces.
What was once considered “cutting edge” eventually morphs into “classic collector car status,” and with Chevy offering hundreds of models past and present to choose from, it’s no wonder that everyone from hot rodders’ and cruisers, to Concourse d’Elegance judges fawn over its iconic cars more than almost any other automaker.
So let’s see how good you are at spotting a particular classic and matching it with its outline. In order to keep things fair we’re offering hints as to what makes each car on this list unique, along with a profile outline for visual assistance. On the final page you’ll find the list of answers in numerical order. Just be forewarned that if you cheat, you will not pass GO or collect $200, and gas prices will rapidly increase in your area until they peak somewhere around the $11 range. For regular. You don’t want to ask about premium.
In 1955, Chevy had found a new lease on life, with a renewed energy that can be seen in the vehicles that permeated the latter part of that decade. Sleek, “Motoramic-influenced styling,” paired with a potent new “Turbo-Fire” V8 engine – the company’s first in decades – made this convertible a real winner for Americans, as rock and roll music, drive-in movies, and Saturday night cruising all quickly became a staple of American culture for a new generation of auto lover.
Hint: Rectangular egg-crate grille. Wrap-around windshield. Curved taillights styled into overly rounded rear fins.
As rounded corners and bulging beltlines gradually morphed into outrageous tailfins and sharper angles, a brief balance was struck between the over-the-top influence of a new generation of automobile and the old way of doing things. The vehicle teased here was actually offered with fuel injection, causing the 283 cubic-inch, small-block Chevy “fuelie” to produce one horsepower per cubic inch – an astonishing amount of performance for the time. This vehicle absolutely trounced the competition in NASCAR too. It actually did its job so well that to this day fuel injection remains banned by the organization.
Hint: Chromed dual “wind-split” ornaments on hood. Large, wedge-shaped metallic silver trim insert on rear quarters. Blade-like tailfins, with rounded taillights atop the rear bumper ends.
Call it coincidence, but we find it funny that in the year tailfins reached their peak, this practical serving of strangeness first emerged on the market. Sure, there had been vehicles like it before, but none so appealing as this 1959 model seen here. With its hardtop-like roof, rear window valance, and curving tailfins, custom car guys went ape-shit over this Frankenstein machine from the get-go, especially since small-block V8 motors could be swapped in faster than you can scream, “It’s alive!”
Hint: Turn-signals above quad headlights. Full-length bright body-side moldings with accent paint fill. Wing-like curved rear fins and “cat’s eye” taillights.
It may have been desired by performance enthusiasts before, but when Chevy dropped a 409 cubic-inch big-block V8 in the vehicle here, it became a performance icon just weeks into its limited 1961 release. It was such a huge hit that the Beach Boys even wrote a song about the dual-carbureted 1962 model, and if that doesn’t help we recommend giving it a fresh listen just for the hell of it. A go-to for all manner of devout GM drag racers, this torque-filled coupe was a car that was lighter than its Impala hardtop cousin, while still rocking that smoothly rounded “bubble top” roofline we love.
Hint: Rounded hardtop roofline with thin support pillars and large rear window. Downward-slanting character line on body-sides stretches from the headlamps to the rear bumper. Four round tail lights, whereas the Impala has six.
For those of you who thought we made a mistake and put in an old Datsun Fairlady, please stop reading right now and go kick rocks. This model was based on a custom sports racer, and was designed by the legendary Bill Mitchell. The 1963 teased here was one of the most revolutionary American production cars of its time, and by that I mean it wasn’t just another pretty face at the party. Featuring a cutting-edge independent rear suspension, and powered by a lively fuel-injected small-block V8, this luxurious sports car featured air conditioning, leather seats, and the ultimate infotainment system, which at the time was known as an “AM/FM radio.” While there were a few changes made to this model over the years, only the ’63s had a glass-laden sign that gave its age away.
Hint: Grid-patterned simulated air intakes on hood. “Split-window” divided rear glass. Gas filler cover on the rear deck is well decorated.
Serving as a final version of the first generation (1967 to 1969), this restyled car plowed through its production year raking up a remarkable amount of accomplishments. While the rev-happy, 302 cubic-inch small-block V8 version took home a Trans Am championship win that year, it was the beastly aluminum-block 427 version that provided all the burnouts at the local drag strip. History buffs will recall that over in Indiana, a custom-built, big-block 396 convertible version served as a pace car for the 1969 Indy 500.
Hint: Rectangular wheel wells. Sculpted body-side “speed lines” trailing rearward from the wheel-well openings. Retractable body-color headlamp covers on RS versions.
The early 1970s marked the final high-flying days of “the muscle car era,” and as all of the boys down at the yard will surely tell you, kicking off that iconic decade with 450 horsepower of unrefined American muscle is about as good as it gets outside of drinking cans of Schlitz while watching midget wrestling. Offered exclusively in two different chassis packages, the 454 cubic-inch V8 in these coupes were Chevrolet’s most powerful production big-block V8s to date. In street trim alone these midsize cars could hit 100 miles-per hour in about 13 seconds – that’s still pretty damn quick, especially considering how heavy they were.
Hint: Horizontally split grille with unique badge at center, flanked by quad headlamps. Rectangular taillights mounted in the rear bumper. One-off badge and 454 engine designation on the front fenders.
In 1993 a fourth-generation of this model emerged with a more menacing, lowered aerodynamic look, and a convertible version joining it in 1994. A special model paced the 1993 Indianapolis 500, marking the brand’s fourth appearance in such role. To commemorate this monumental occasion, Chevy released 645 street versions of this car, complete with a special pinstriped Indy Pace Car livery, which to this day remains one of the wildest collages of color ever to be seen on an automobile.
Hint: Designation badge above body-side molding and on rear panel. Special black roof treatment on base models with T-tops. That colorful 1993 Indy 500 Pace Car Package.
For many of you, this car stands right out from the other silhouettes here. Rolling free from any scent of unburned hydrocarbons, this small car remains a testament to how far we’ve come as an advanced species. The 2011 model teased here made its first appearance as a production car during a Woodward Dream Cruise, and with an on-board range extender, and aerodynamic options at the ready, there’s no telling how far this little guy will go now that a more powerful model is available.
Hint: Blackout panel below side windows. Round port door on driver-side front fender. Black lift gate panel below the spoiler at rear, with Chevrolet bowtie badge and specialized identification.
Originally designed to “launch Chevrolet into its second century with the sort of ground-breaking performance that runs deep in the bowtie brand’s heritage,” this evil-eyed beast is both an homage to versions of old, and a prelude of what was to come. Churning out more than 550 horsepower right out of the gate, this limited 2012 version was the highest-performing and most technically advanced model to ever wear this nameplate, earning it a reputation as a future Chevy street classic that won’t ever be taken lightly.
Hint: Aluminum hood with carbon fiber air extractor and special badges. Forged 20” aluminum wheels with Goodyear supercar tires. LED headlamp halo rings.
List cheat sheet:
1. 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
2. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
3. 1959 Chevrolet El Camino
4. 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air “Bubble Top” 409
5. 1963 Corvette Sting Ray “Split-Window” Coupe
6. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
7. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
8. 1993 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
9. 2011 Chevrolet Volt
10. 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1