10 Chevy Cars You Probably Forgot Existed
From the unicorns to the donkeys, Chevy has had them allby Kirby Garlitos, on LISTEN 10:30
In the 100-plus years that it’s been around, Chevy has developed a lot of popular models, including the Camaro and Corvette nameplates. But look back on the Bow Tie’s history and you’ll see that it’s also filled with forgotten models and rare exclusives that not a lot of people today know existed. Some of these models were one-off creations that have become holy grails while others were short-lived flops that Chevy probably prefers to be kept under the rug. Either way, all these models have interesting stories to tell.
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1
The 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZL-1 is probably the rarest of all Corvette models. It’s based on another rare Corvette: the Corvette Stingray L88. The ZL-1, though, is the true unicorn. Chevrolet didn’t even publicize the car, opting to quietly offer a ZL-1 package to a small group of Corvette owners. The ZL-1 featured a 356-T6 aluminum version of the 7.0 V-8 engine that weighed 100 pounds less than the stock cast-iron unit. Like the L88, the ZL-1 could produce over 500 horsepower, and it was capable of similar performance times as the 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat, including a quarter-mile time of only 11.2 seconds at 127 mph. Not a lot of people knew about the ZL-1 package. Between that and the car’s price tag back then — $10,771 — Chevrolet only built three units of the ZL-1.
|Engine:||7.0-liter V-8 engine|
|Horsepower:||Over 500 horsepower|
|Torque:||450 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||4.0 seconds|
|Top speed:||193 mph|
1977 Chevrolet Monza Mirage
The Chevrolet Monza Mirage was the high-performance alter-ego of the Monza, a compact vehicle that Chevrolet released in the 1970s. The model sold well, but it wasn’t exactly geared towards performance. That changed in 1977 when Chevy launched the Monza Mirage, which was inspired by the IMSA GT race car. Chevrolet didn’t actually build the Mirage; instead, it commissioned the British Overseas Racing Team (BORT) to come up with the package and contracted Michigan Auto Techniques Corporation to install the package.
Chevrolet initially wanted 8,000 units of the Mirage, but only 4,057 were built, all of which came with a white body with red and blue racing stripes.
The years haven’t been kind to the Monza Mirage as only 30 units are rumored to still be around.
|Engine:||Spark-ignition four-stroke engine|
|Torque:||245 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||9.9 seconds|
|Top speed:||116 mph|
The Chevrolet Chevelle is arguably one of Chevrolet’s most well-known models in the 1960s and 1970s. It was the automaker’s go-to mid-size model, and it was in the market from 1964 to 1978. What most people don’t know is that Chevrolet actually built a performance version of the model called the Chevelle Z-16. Based on the standard Chevelle but with a lot of go-fast options thrown in, the Chevelle Z-16 was identified as a secret Chevy model, in part because the automaker didn’t want to market it in the first place. As such, only 200 units of the Z-16 were built, and there’s no telling how many of those 200 units are still around today.
|Engine:||6.5-liter Turbo Jet V-8 engine|
|Torque:||420 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||6.0 seconds|
|Top speed:||149 mph|
Read our full review on the 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Z-16
1985 Chevrolet Sprint Turbo
Not a lot of people remember the Chevrolet Sprint, and there’s a good reason for that. The supermini hatchback traces its roots to Suzuki where it was called the Citrus. A deal between Chevrolet and the Japanese automaker allowed Chevy to rebrand the latter’s small compact, which led to the introduction of the Sprint. The hatchback doesn’t look the part of a memorable Chevrolet, but the Sprint had serious performance chops relative to its size.
It weighed just 1,633 pounds and was powered by a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produced 70 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque.
Combine those with a ride that teetered on the edge and the Sprint Turbo was actually a lot of fun to drive. It’s not clear how many models Chevrolet sold, but the Sprint has gained a niche following in recent years from those who wanted to make the most of this pocket rocket.
|Engine:||1.0-liter inline turbocharged three-cylinder engine|
|Torque:||107 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||10.5 seconds|
|Top speed:||104 mph|
1957 Chevrolet El Morocco
Known as the “Poor Man’s Cadillac,” the El Morocco was as unique as they came.
Built as a customized full-sized model by Canadian businessman Reuben Allender, the El Morocco was pegged as a cheaper alternative to the grail ride of that time, the Cadillac Eldorado. Allender, with the help of General Motors, used a 1956 Bel Air Sport as the basis of his creation. With GM’s blessing — it was the first time the automaker allowed someone outside of the company to design a custom Chevy model — Allender succeeded in his goal in bringing the El Morocco to life. The original plan was to build 10 cars per day, but it is believed that the Allender only built 16 units for the 1956 model year and 18 units for the 1957 model.
|Engine:||4.3-liter V-8 engine|
|Torque:||268 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||10.7 seconds|
|Top speed:||140 mph|
1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Convertible
There’s only one 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Convertible in the world.
It’s the rarest Camaro of all time, and had it not been for Pete Estes’ preference for convertible models — Estes was the general manager of Chevrolet in the late 1960s and eventually became General Motors’ 15th president — the 1968 Camaro Z/28 Convertible wouldn’t have existed. As the story goes, Chevrolet’s Special Production Division wanted to promote the Z/28 Performance Package as an option for Camaro owners at that time. Estes, however, wasn’t as convinced of the car’s appeal. In order to convince him, the division built a single Camaro Z/28 Convertible for Estes to drive. The head honcho loved it and immediately authorized promoting the Z/28. The package is still used today in different capacities, but the convertible that convinced Estes to greenlight its promotion has remained a complete one-off model.
|Engine:||4.9-liter V-8 engine|
|Torque:||328 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||5.3 seconds|
|Top speed:||132 mph|
The upcoming eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 will likely go down as a collectible Corvette in the future. But unless Chevrolet decides to cut production to only a few models, it will never hold the distinction of being the rarest ZR1 model in history. That title belongs to the 1971 Corvette ZR1. Built for use on race tracks, the 1971 Corvette ZR1 was powered by a 5.7-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine that produced 330 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. It also came with a special starter, lightweight flywheel, heavy-duty shocks, and a Muncie M22 four-speed transmission. The model’s biggest claim to fame — and the reason it’s on this list — is that only eight Corvette models were equipped with the ZR1 package in that year. In total, 53 units were built, including 25 units in 1970 and another 20 units in 1972.
|Engine:||5.7-liter naturally aspirated V-8|
|Torque:||280 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||6.4 seconds|
|Top speed:||119 mph|
Check out more details on the 1971 Corvette ZR1
The upcoming GMC Hummer EV is the latest in a long line of electric trucks that General Motors has built. But as excited as we are for the Hummer EV’s arrival, it’s important that we acknowledge one of its ancestors: the Chevrolet S-10 Electric. Introduced in 1997, the S-10 EV was an ambitious plan by GM to roll out an electric vehicle in a market that clearly wasn’t ready for one. To make things worse, it became clear that the automaker also wasn’t ready to build an electric vehicle. The S-10 EV was powered by an electric motor that produced 114 horsepower and lead batteries that could only run 47 miles in combined driving. The S-10 EV only lasted a year in production as only 60 units were sold to fleet customers. Another 440 models were assembled, but they were not sold and were eventually scrapped.
|Engine:||AC induction motor and 16.2 kWh lead-acid batteries|
|0 to 50 MPH:||13.5 seconds|
|Top speed:||70 mph|
Check out more details on the 1997 Chevrolet S-10 Electric
1958 Chevrolet Yeoman
The Chevrolet Yeoman belongs in a group of its own as a forgotten Chevy model. Built in 1958 to be the brand’s entry-level wagon, the Yeoman, which was offered as a two- or four-door station wagon, lasted all but one year in the market. It was offered with three engine options, including a 5.7-liter V-8 unit that produced 230 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. It could also accommodate up to six passengers, which should’ve been enough to appeal to customers. Unfortunately, the Yeoman never caught on, and Chevrolet decided to cut its losses and dumped the station wagon barely a year after it was launched.
|Engine:||5.7-liter V-8 engine|
|Torque:||300 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||9.2 seconds|
|Top speed:||108 mph|
1984 Chevrolet K10 Sno Chaser
This is the Chevrolet K10 Sno Chaser. It’s one of the rarest trucks Chevy has released, in part because it was sold exclusively in northern states where the climate’s colder and the roads more slippery. The Sno Chase is recognizable for its red and paint finish with gold graphics and a unique spoiler that extended the b-pillar. It’s also known for being one-half of two "geographically exclusive" special edition trucks that General Motors released in the 1980s. Its counterpart, the GMC Sierra California Sundancer, was released in 1987 and it was dressed in bright yellow paint.
The Sundancer was offered exclusively in Southern California where it's bright and sunny.
Powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that produced 175 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, the K10 Sno Chaser is known as much for its colors as it is for its rarity.
|Engine:||5.7-liter V-8 engine|
|Torque:||275 pound-feet of torque|
|0 to 60 MPH:||n/a|