We had a lively debate here the other day about our preferences for the ’65 or ’66 Chevrolet. I’m solidly in the ’65 camp, as it shows that there was actually an original creative force driving its design, and not just the order to the second-string design team to “now make it look a bit different” for year two. With exceedingly few exceptions, the second year refresh of a new design is invariably dumbed-down, with the little touches of originality replaced by generic cues generally already established by the brand.
The ’67 Chevelle is a classic example of the same principle at work. But I’m sure there will be some who prefer it.
The ’66 has of course become a very popular classic among a certain set, and it’s hard to find a picture of one without big wheels an tires. It introduced the new look for GM’s A-Bodies, with their tunnel-back roof and stepped-up hips. It’s front end was by far the most interesting one found on a Chevelle to date, as the ’64 and ’65 grilles were highly generic. We now see that classic Bill Mitchell-era trademark upper leading front edge, first seen (I think) on the ’63 Riviera. the undercut grille, emphasized by the reverse-slant edges on the side of the front fender, accentuates the lean of the front end, which was of course very much seen on the ’65 big Chevies and the ’65 Corvair.
And what’s it replaced by for 1966? Another rather generic grille that reminds a bit of the ’62 Chevrolet, with bladed fender extensions to make the Chevelle look even longer than the extra 1.2″ it actually was compared to the ’66.
Well, now that we turned that wrap-around front end into a smooth bladed front fender, what shall we do with the rear?
Oh; how about we muck up that smooth bladed rear fender with a wrap-around tail light. Brilliant!
That’s; a little front-rear switcheroo, for 1967! Got to keep the folks thinking the cars are new each year.
Ok; some of you will think I’m splitting fine hairs here; the ’67 is still a very nice car of its time and genre. But I will tell you that I did not get as excited in the fall of 1966 as I was in the fall of 1965. And that’s what it’s really all about when it come to Chevelles: which childhood/adolescent memory is the more deeply etched one. And which is it for you?