Chevy brings the 1969 Chevelle back to life with new crate engine

The Chevelle nameplate may have died back in 1978, but the legacy of the once great midsize Chevy is still alive in the minds of car enthusiasts, especially for the late first-generation and second-generation models, which included some spectacular muscle cars. Chevrolet is very aware of that and decided to bring the Chevelle back into the spotlight with a special concept created for the 2016 SEMA Show.

Dubbed Slammer, the custom Chevelle is a full-fledged restomod that pairs the body of a 1969 coupe with modern underpinnings, bespoke wheels, and one of GM’s newest and most technologically advanced crate engines.

"The ’69 Chevelle is one of the best-looking cars of the muscle car era and we didn’t want to mess with its classic cues or period-perfect proportions,” said Chevrolet designer Humberto Ortiz. "We’ve simply enhanced it where we could, knocking down the chrome in certain areas and tightening other exterior details such as the bumpers, grille and more. It’s still a 1969 Chevelle at a glance, but as you continue to examine it, the details really stand out."

The Chevelle Slammer was displayed alongside 20 other Chevrolet cars at the SEMA Show, but gained the most attention at the company’s booth. Keep reading to find out why.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Chevelle Slammer.

Exterior

At first glance, the Slammer appears to be a standard 1969 Chevelle with modern wheels, less chrome, and a black paint. Upon closer inspection though, several details began to surface. For starters, Chevrolet revised many of the vintage body’s features, giving it a smoother finish. This is mostly evident being on the fenders, which no longer feature the sharp character line just above the wheel arches. The panels have been rounded off and the Chevelle now sports a bespoke look without losing its classic appeal.

2016 Chevrolet Chevelle Slammer High Resolution Exterior
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Chevrolet revised many of the vintage body's features, giving it a smoother finish.

Chevy also removed most of the chrome, including the side strips, the bumpers, the window frame, and even some usually found in the front grille. The only chrome on the car can be seen around the headlamps, the front bumper, and the taillights. The custom wheels, which measure 18 inches at the front and 20 inches to the rear, are also finished in chrome and mask red brake calipers. The wheels were the most difficult to add, as it required some modifications to the chassis because of their size.

Interior

Inside, Chevy kept most of the 1969 Chevelle’s layout unchanged. The classic dashboard, the door panels, and the center console are still there, and the red upholstery gives them a vintage look and provides a stunning contrast with the black exterior paint. Actually, it’s not just the dash, panels, and console that are red, everything from the carpet and headliner to the seat are either trimmed or painted Adrenaline Red.

The red upholstery provides a stunning contrast with the black exterior.

There are a few modern features too. The seats come from a 2016 Camaro, which is good news given that classic seats don’t provide too much lateral support. Chevy also added a set of custom gauges that were specifically chosen to be compatible with the electronic signals from the Chevrolet Performance engine and transmission controllers.

Drivetrain

Under the hood of the Chevelle Slammer lurks a brand-new crate engine. Called the LT/376/535, it’s a 6.2-liter V-8 that builds on the Gen V familly of Chevy small blocks and uses the LT1 block, which motivates the Corvette and the Camaro SS, "Hot Cam" system. The engine available via Chevrolet Performance uses direct injection that enables a high 11.5:1 compression ratio, and a high-performance camshaft and cylinder head combo.

2016 Chevrolet Chevelle Slammer High Resolution Exterior
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Under the hood of the Chevelle Slammer lurks a brand-new crate engine.

The V-8 cranks out 535 horsepower and has a 6,800 rpm redline. To be honest, I expected Chevy to drop more oomph into this restomod, but that’s not to say that it is underpowered. After all, the custom V-8 cranks generates 80 horsepower more than the Camaro SS’ V-8.

All that power travels to the rear wheels through a new transmission too. I’m talking about the SuperMatic 4L75-E, an electronically controlled, four-speed automatic that features a torque capacity of 650 pound-feet. Also available via Chevrolet Performance, it has a smaller barrel that makes it easier to install in more compact vehicles, a unique high-strength input housing, heat-treated stator shaft splines, induction-hardened turbine shaft, eight-friction-plate 3-4 clutch, and specific valve-body calibration.

Furthermore, there’s an air suspension system that changes the ride height at the push of a button and a Camaro-based performance brake system with six-piston front calipers.

Conclusion

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The Chevelle is one of Chevy’s most iconic nameplates and the second-generation model spawned some of the greatest muscle cars in history. Unfortunately, the model was replaced with the Malibu in 1978 and it has yet to return since. This short story is what makes the Slammer such an important project. Bringing an old Chevelle back to life is the least Chevy can do right now, and this build is definitely worthy of the name. Granted, I would rather stare at a 1970 model instead of a 1969, but I know it’s not a good time go and get picky. Hopefully Chevrolet will come up with more builds like this and will give the old Chevelle the attention it deserves. Of course, that’s as long as none of the nicely restored vintage Chevelles still floating around get hurt in the process.

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Press Release

Chevrolet’s Chevelle Slammer concept combines hot-rod style with modern performance and technology, with the all-new LT376/535 crate engine, controllers and SuperMatic 4L75-E automatic transmission.

“The direct-injected LT376/535 is the newest and one of the most technologically advanced crate engines ever from Chevrolet Performance,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It is based on the LT1 engine found in the Corvette Stingray and Camaro SS, but with a unique camshaft-and-heads package to help it produce 535 horsepower — 75 horsepower more than the LT1 in the Stingray.”

The LT376/535 crate engine and SuperMatic 4L75-E transmission are offered as a Connect & Cruise package from Chevrolet Performance that includes the controllers and harnesses.

The 2017 Chevrolet Performance catalog features the new LT376/535 along with the industry’s widest range of crate engines, including Chevrolet Small-Block, Big-Block, LS- and LT-Series engines. The catalog also includes COPO Camaro and circle-track racing engines.

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Chevelle Slammer is bad in black

From every angle, the Chevelle Slammer design is all about one thing: stance. It’s low, raked and dripping with hot-rod attitude. The chassis was modified to accommodate large 18-inch front and 20-inch rear polished wheels, while almost every inch of the vintage body was subtly revised to give it a smooth, custom appearance, but not at the expense of its classic lines.

“The ’69 Chevelle is one of the best-looking cars of the muscle car era and we didn’t want to mess with its classic cues or period-perfect proportions,” said Humberto Ortiz, Chevrolet designer. “We’ve simply enhanced it where we could, knocking down the chrome in certain areas and tightening other exterior details such as the bumpers, grille and more. It’s still a 1969 Chevelle at a glance, but as you continue to examine it, the details really stand out.”

An air suspension system alters the stance at the push of a button, including dropping it all the way to the ground for maximum profiling when on display. The car also features a Gen Six Camaro-based performance brake system, including six-piston front calipers.

And while the exterior exudes attitude in all black, the interior makes a searing statement in Adrenaline Red.

“The contrast between the exterior and interior is stunning and dramatic,” said Ortiz. “The idea was to give the cabin the appearance of being dipped in red.”

Mission accomplished. Everything from the instrument panel, door panels and carpet to the headliner, interior panels, console and seats is trimmed or painted Adrenaline Red. The seats come from a 2016 Camaro, while a set of custom gauges in the instrument panel were selected for their compatibility with the electronic signals from the Chevrolet Performance engine and transmission controllers.

LT376/535 crate engine is a high-tech powerhouse

Chevrolet’s all-new, direct-injected LT376/535 crate engine builds on the Gen V Small-Block family’s technologies and takes them to the next level, leveraging CNC-ported heads and the high-lift LT1 Hot Cam to deliver 535 naturally aspirated horsepower.

Chevrolet Performance engineers developed the high-performance camshaft-and-cylinder-head package in-house, leveraging the design elements of the LT1’s advanced combustion system to channel airflow through the optimized cylinder head ports.

The Chevrolet-developed camshaft profile extends the horsepower-building range of the engine higher in the rpm band, pushing it to about 6,800 rpm while still maintaining strong low-rpm torque. Direct injection enables a high 11.5:1 compression ratio that contributes to the engine’s strong horsepower-to-displacement ratio of 1.43:1, or 87 hp per liter.

“The LT376/535 crate engine represents the best of Chevrolet’s performance engineering,” said Rocko Parker, Chevrolet Performance Parts engineer. “Adhering to the same standards as the development of production engines, the LT376/535 offers tremendous power with the drivability expected with a new vehicle. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Chevrolet’s LT376/535 crate engine — part number 19355378 — includes a production intake manifold, throttle body assembly, ignition coils, water pump, balancer and more. It requires Chevrolet Performance’s engine controller kit, part number 12677124.

2016 Chevrolet Chevelle Slammer High Resolution Exterior
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SuperMatic 4L75-E automatic transmission offers big capacity

The Chevelle’s crate engine is paired with Chevrolet’s new SuperMatic 4L75-E electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission (part number 24283281) featuring a torque capacity of 650 lb.-ft.

That exceptional capacity makes it suitable for many of Chevrolet’s highest-output crate engines and a great alternative to the 4L80 series when packaging space is an issue. The 4L75-E’s “barrel” is significantly smaller than the 4L80 series, making it easier to install in many smaller vehicles. It is also lighter, which enhances overall performance and vehicle balance.

The new 4L75-E is based on the already robust design featuring five-pinion gearsets and other strengthened components. It also includes a unique high-strength input housing, higher capacity servo, heat-treated stator shaft splines, induction-hardened turbine shaft, eight-friction-plate 3-4 clutch, larger 2-4 band and specific valve-body calibration.

“The Chevelle Slammer’s combination of style and performance makes a strong hot-rod statement and is the perfect platform to launch the new direct-injected LT376/535 crate engine and 4L75-E transmission,” said Campbell.

The Chevelle Slammer joins approximately 20 additional Chevrolet models at the SEMA Show, Nov. 1-4. Follow the action at ChevySEMA.com, #CHEVYSEMA, @ChevroletPerformance on Instagram and Chevrolet Performance on Facebook.

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