When he first laid eyes on the Z/28-badged Camaro that had lain dormant in a garage for decades just three blocks from his house, Bill Fowler figured it was just another hot rod that just another kid had his hands on back in the Eighties. Little did he suspect that he may have stumbled upon a long lost piece of Chevrolet history that passed through the hands of one of the most legendary mechanics in the world.
At least, little did he suspect until he heard the asking price
“He wanted $25,000 for the car, but then he wanted another $5,000 for the intake manifold,” Fowler said.
The seller, small-block Chevrolet tech manual author Larry Schreib, had good reason to ask that much for the latter: The three two-barrel manifold quite possibly came off of an L-70 350-cu.in. V-8, a 360-horsepower engine that Chevrolet managers had reportedly planned for the 1967 Camaro and even sent down the pilot production line before scrapping the option entirely. Much of what we know about the L-70 comes from Philip Borris’s book, “Echoes of Norwood: General Motors Automobile Production During the Twentieth Century,” in which Borris spoke with former Norwood plant employees who recalled building L-70-powered Camaros, painted with Z/28-style rally stripes. In the end, Chevrolet offered the single four-barrel L-48 as the only 350 in the 1967 Camaro and essentially replaced the L-70 option with the 302-powered Z/28.
Today, the historic Chevy S-10 pickup truck appeals to auto enthusiasts around the world. It became the first genuinely compact pickup ever built on U.S. soil by a leading automaker. The S-10 underwent extensive permutations during its development. This pickup inspired versions of the Colorado in some overseas markets today.
A Quick Overview of Chevrolet Company History
Chevrolet began producing the Chevy S-10 in 1981. It marketed the truck for the first time as a 1982 model. Chevrolet served as an important division of one of the nation’s top three automakers, General Motors during this period.
Alfred Sloan, Jr. became President of General Motors in 1923. The firm, often known by its initials “GM”, prospered under his leadership. By 1929, General Motors surpassed the powerful Ford Motor Company in terms of its U.S. sales figures.
During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, General Motors competed with other automakers in North America. GM designed affordable vehicles for a mass market of consumers. The company started producing the sporty two-seat Chevrolet Corvette in 1953 and the innovative compact Chevrolet Corvair in 1960. Chevrolet exercised considerable influence over the U.S. auto industry during the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s, too.
A Changing Era
Chevrolet released the Chevy S-10 pickup under the tenure of innovative (and controversial) CEO Roger B. Smith. High interest rates during the late 1970s impacted General Motors. The automaker initiated steps to streamline its products and cut costs by modernizing its production facilities and co-venturing with foreign manufacturers.
Even as the company introduced its compact S-10 pickup during the 1980s, GM began scaling back on the production of medium and large trucks. Several GM divisions underwent consolidation during this period:
This transformation ultimately impacted the development of the “S” series (and the Chevy S-10).
A Complete Exploration of Different Chevy S10 Body Styles And More!
The Chevy S-10 underwent extensive appearance changes during its history, as did the closely related S-15 series. Automakers frequently modify popular brands in order to maintain currency. Consider 27 body types and special packages influenced to varying degrees by the Chevy S-10:
1. Chevy S-10 Regular Cab Truck: Both the first and the second generation Regular Cab accommodated either a short bed or a long bed. The cab transported up to three people on a bench type seat but it also came with bucket seats instead. The regular cab pickup was a little too tight and uncomfortable for a tall person. Personally, I always preferred the Extended cab because I am 6′ 1″ tall and always felt crammed in in a Regular Cab.
2. Chevy S-10 Short Bed Truck: The short bed rested on a wheelbase of 108.3 inches with a Regular Cab, or on 122.9 inch wheelbase when used with an Extended Cab. The short bed is only 72.40 inches long, that is a little over 6 feet, and it is great for recreational use but is too small for any semi-serious pickup needs.
3. Chevy S-10 Long Bed Truck: The Regular Cab truck with a long cargo bed measures 88.30 inches long which is a little over 7 feet long. Not quiet 8 feet you need to haul a piece of plywood but it is better than a short bed for utility purposes.
4. Chevy S-10 Extended Cab Truck: The Extended Cab only permitted the use of a short truck bed. It first became available during the 1983 model year. Starting in the 1996 model truck, it offered a standard “third” door on the driver’s side for easier access to the area behind the seats.
Chevrolet introduced the new Caprice Custom Sedan in February 1965 at the Chicago Auto Show. The GM brand took a page from its own playbook much like it had in 1958, when it introduced the Impala, an upmarket trim level for the existing top-of-the-line Bel Air. The Caprice, a jazzed-up Impala, was Chevrolet’s answer to the new Ford Galaxie 500 LTD, introduced at the beginning of the 1965 model year. Like the Caprice, Impala, and Bel Air, the LTD was an upmarket version of Ford’s popular Galaxie 500, which was itself one step beyond the Fairlane 500 starting in 1959.
Rumors persist that the car was given its moniker by then-Chevrolet General Sales Manager Bob Lund, who reportedly named the car after an upscale New York City restaurant he frequented. Another origin story states that the car was named after Caprice Chapman, the daughter of automotive executive James P. Chapman.
The unique roofline played prominently in Chevrolet print ads for 1966. Typically, a white Caprice Custom Coupe with black vinyl top and blue Strato Bucket Seat interior (available only on the coupe) was featured. Interestingly, the special interior highlighted the optional four-speaker multiplex stereo controls and fully instrumented console. It makes one wonder, just how many (or few) cars were so equipped?
Offered as an option exclusively on the Impala four-door hardtop sedan, the new Caprice cost just $242.10 more than a comparable Impala’s $2,850.00 base price. For the extra cash, option code Z18 netted deeply cushioned seats in premium cloth and vinyl, with a fold-down center armrest for the rear seat passengers. Real wood accents highlighted the instrument panel and door panels, and deep-twist carpeting covered the floor and lower door panels. A special headliner and side-trim panels, along with woodgrain accents on the steering wheel, added to the upscale interior.
Outside, hand-applied dual pinstripes — color coordinated to the interior—and a black-accented grille and rear trim panel came from the Impala SS, as did the three-spoke spinner wheel covers, albeit with Caprice badging. Decorative fleur-de-lis Caprice emblems were affixed to the C-pillars to remind you what lie inside.
[Editor’s note: The author behind The Nut Behind the Wheel talking about himself? Yes, well, here at Hemmings we’re all a little nuts. Here’s why David Conwill can’t stay away from Corvairs.]“
My parents warned me off from Corvairs when I was still in elementary school. At my bus stop, in kindergarten, there was this fascinating old car. I showed my parents and they said ‘Oh, that’s a Corvair. The heater will asphyxiate you.’ The name Ralph Nader never came up—I don’t think they took him very seriously. They were car people, but Corvairs were just too ‘out there’ for them. It looked so cool to me, though, with that flat roof and wrap-around rear window. I never forgot it. Even once I got into conventional cars, with the engine up front and a radiator, the interesting shape of an early Corvair stuck with me.
“Almost 20 years later, when I was visiting my fiancée, we saw a Corvair convertible coming the other way during a scenic drive we were on. She loved it too and she wound up buying me a couple of old ads that I framed on my wall. One calls Corvair ‘the happiest-driving compact car’ and I think that might be true. It’s not just a shrunken conventional car. That’s one thing that kept me away from them for a long time, but ultimately, that’s a big part of their appeal.
This black and white, declassified US Army training film, created in 1942 and released in 1943, (TF 10-980, full title: Automotive Trouble Shooting Part 11c, Section 2, Chevrolet 4×4 and G.M.C. 6×6 Steering System Adjustments) offers troubleshooting advice for mechanics calibrating the steering of military automobiles (TRT: 15:24).
Title cards: “This Film is Restricted” over a stenciled banner “Restricted” and “Official Training Film, War Department” with a US War Office seal (0:08). “Produced by the Signal Corps for the Commanding General Services of Supply.” Titles continue over shots of mechanics hands, wrenches at work (0:22). A mechanic works with jack lifts under the chassis of a Chevrolet G506 1 ½ ton 4×4 truck (produced as the Chevy G7100, and originally G4100 models). He zeroes in on the steering column. He inserts a bar in a wheel. A closeup shows even weight distribution. The other wheel demonstrates excessive play, indicating loose pinion bearings (0:45). The tie rod is disconnected by removing the clamp bolt and yolk. The upper bearing cap follows in closeup. Shims are handled with care (1:46). Shims are removed from the lower bearing cap from a reverse angle, as heavy grease drips out (2:45). Proper steering knuckle resistance is demonstrated, then the tie rod is reconnected (3:11). The toe of the wheels is checked, using a telescopic toeing gauge. A helper drives forward slowly (3:50). The gauge reads 1/16”. The steering arm clamp bolt nut is locked (4:25). The mechanic climbs behind the steering wheel and turns it gently, testing. The separate components of the steering gear assembly. The steering shaft worm gear and tapered bearings in closeup. A ball nut is added in a cross-section shot, then filled with ball bearings and tubular guides. A nut locks the assembly housing together (5:16). Closeup on the mesh of two gears teeth. Calibration is adjusted with a screw and nut (8:11). The mechanic at the wheel loosens a bracket underneath the dashboard, then climbs out of the truck (8:35). The steering rod is disconnected from the pitman shaft (9:04). A lock nut is loosened and a screw is turned. Then, the worm gear bearings are adjusted (9:29). Passenger’s side POV: The Mechanic returns and rotates the steering wheel smoothly back and forth, finding the center (10:46). Re-tightening the steering gear assembly with a wrench. The steering wheel is re-tested to ensure an increased load and consistent resistance (12:12). A highlighted section of a mechanic’s manual: “Using J-544 Steering Gear Checking Scale, measure the pull at the rim of the wheel…” An illustration indicates the proper positioning of a checking scale (13:00). Checking alignment of the steering column jacket. The mechanic re-aligns the steering column jacket, working from the driver’s side wheel well (13:25). The steering column is fixed in place, and the drag link is re-connected (14:09). The mechanic checks the wheel one last time, ensuring a job well done (14:51). “The End” (15:03)
The “G506” truck chassis depicted in this film was manufactured in mass quantity by the Chevrolet Motor Division of GM during the World War II era. This model of vehicle became the standard truck for the US Army and Air Corps during the 1940s, as over 150,000 such vehicles were purchased. Of these, roughly 47,700 were shipped to the Soviet Union under the “Lend-Lease” program.
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The idea of a truly all-new car is tempting fate. Each system, each individual component requires so much effort to work properly in concert with a thousand other components, in myriad conditions, that body/chassis and drivelines often see their launches staggered. A newly styled car, or one with an all-new chassis, often starts life with a carryover powertrain; a new engine may show up in an existing chassis years into a model’s gestation. Doing it all at once is an expensive gamble.
That said, if anyone could launch an all-new car, it was Chevrolet. Its status as America’s best-selling car brand for the bulk of the postwar era brought success and swagger. For 1955, Chevy needed a new car to keep up with the competition’s advances—and the division’s engineers and stylists delivered; Chevy’s V-8-powered 1955 sedan lineup really was as new as it got in Detroit in the ’50s. Comparing the 1954 and ’55 Chevy lines, virtually the only things that remained were the conventional front-engine/rear-drive layout, names (150, 210, Bel Air, et al), the chassis’ 115-inch wheelbase, and the wheel-and-tire combo. All-new body, all-new chassis, all-new V-8 engine, and new optional overdrive behind the (admittedly extant) three-speed manual transmission. You’d scarcely believe a ’54 and a ’55 Bel Air were built a model year apart.
Visuals first. Chevy’s new body was actually an inch narrower than the ’54’s—but because the ’55 convertible was 2½ inches lower (and wagons 5-plus inches lower!), the new car looked wider. Yet headroom was comparable, despite the lower roofline. A wrap-around “Sweep-Sight” windshield arrived, as did 18 percent more glass area for better visibility across the lower fenders. Crisp, almost formal lines made for a cleaner profile, with a minimum of filigree: just an elegant spear on 150 and Bel Air models, all the better to outline the optional two-tone paint offerings. The 1954’s ornate grille was exchanged for a tight egg-crate pattern. Fender tops hooded the headlamps; this, the side trim and the rakish rooflines combined to make the Chevy appear to strain against its leash and demand to run at full speed
Yes, the ancient 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame Six remained—available with manual transmission and 123 horsepower, or 136 ponies with Powerglide. But Chevy’s clean-sheet V-8 was the big news. Engineered by future GM president Ed Cole, Corvette-world legend Zora Arkus-Duntov, and a handpicked group of engineers, it was a wonder of high-tech simplicity. It featured a strong thin-wall block, using up-to-date casting techniques; an over-square bore/stroke that allowed it to rev; five main bearings; forged steel crankshaft; individual stamped-steel rocker arms; interchangeable heads; and self-lubricating hydraulic lifters. Chevy’s V-8 started off modest—162 horsepower for a standard two-barrel 265 with 8:1 compression, although the optional Power Pack (with four-barrel carb and dual exhaust) was rated at 180 horses; the rare Corvette-sourced 195-hp Super Power Pack added the famous Duntov cam and higher-compression pistons. Each V-8 block was painted a vivid shade of orange, so that no one could miss it when the hood was raised.
Chevrolet brought back the Camaro ZL1 in 2012, there’s even a 2021 model, but these new Camaro ZL1 cars are not the most popular and sought-after Chevy Camaro ZL1’s. The highly unsafe, powerful, and untamed 1969 ZL1 Camaro takes that crown. Most Europeans were surprised when the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE got banned on the continent for safety reasons, but if the 1969 Camaro ZL1 was made today, it would be banned worldwide. It was raw, with no safety features, and under the hood was a big block engine that G.M had made illegal for Chevrolet to include in production cars.
It’s a rare treat indeed when hardcore engine enthusiasts get to peek deep inside vintage and prototype high performance engine packages that never made it to production. On this site we’ve seen the unique internals of the Chevrolet 427 Mystery Motor and other rare engines and now we have an in depth look at a one-off all aluminum canted valve, crossram inducted Chevrolet small block evaluated for the ’69 Z/28.
This car has been featured multiple times in print magazines and their internet versions. All of them recognized that the engine is the single most defining component of this car, yet none of them chose to dig deep enough to bring their readers an insider’s look at this rare canted valve crossram 302ci powerplant. Instead they showed pretty pictures of tail lights, Camaro and Z28 emblems, wheel caps, interior, console instruments and so on; all standard items on any 1969 Z28. What the hell were they thinking? We figure you already know what a 1969 Z28 emblem looks like so check out these photos of the guts behind the glory.
This doubly unique engine is based on an aluminum, 4-inch bore block originally developed under Zora Duntov’s Corvette group. Engineer Bill Howell left the lab in 1967, but he says this engine would have been developed by the V8 group as it would have had to have production intent to be legal for the Trans Am racing series.
Robert Cope’s One-of-a-Kind X-11 research vehicle.
Thankfully, the V8 engine hasn’t met its demise quite yet. But, in the 1980s, automakers were concerned for its future. This led General Motors to chase new opportunities for the Corvette, which almost led to a mid-engine variant decades ago. Now, it seems the Corvette will finally fulfill those mid-engine dreams with the C8 Corvette.
That’s another topic for another story. This story, first reported by Jalopnik, is about some crazy man who has kept a 1985 Chevrolet Citation. But, it’s not any old Citation. This is a Citation X-11 mid-engine Corvette test mule.
That’s right. In 1985, Chevrolet created a Citation with two engines, one in the front and one in the back. Two aluminum 3.1-liter V6 engines were stuffed into the rear and front for a total of 400 hp. In regular driving, the Citation X-11 could use just the front-mounted engine to drive the front wheels. But, the driver could also turn the economy car into a beast with the flip of a switch.
In turn, that would unlock the rear engine, turning the FWD Citation into a 400 hp, all-wheel drive machine.
Hot Rod once described the Citation X-11 as so:
Imagine a GMC Syclone or Typhoon with less weight and nearly twice the power.
We like the sound of that. Have a look at the video of the Citation X-11.