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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > Chevrolet Centennial: Postwar Cars 1946-2012

 

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Chevrolet Centennial: Postwar Cars 1946-2012

By vegavairbob

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Cover photo for the Postwar Chevrolets album
Postwar Chevrolets
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1946: Like most Detroit makes after World War II, Chevrolet reprises its 1942 models for 1946 with minor appearance changes; Stylemaster Sport Sedan leads the production parade; Specs the same save a different carburetor and slight weight gain; Strike hits all of GM, holds '46-model Chevrolet output to 398,028; Prices up as much as 46 percent, due to postwar inflation.
1947: Cadet compact developed, but is quickly shelved as unnecessary; Car production gets back up to speed, rising to 671,543 units.
1948: Car production rises to 696,449 units.
1949: Fresh postwar styling, new series names. Chevy's first all-steel wagon at mid-year; Fastbacks multiply; Car production soars to a record million-plus.
1950: Bel Air "hardtop convertible" bows; mild styling changes; Optional Powerglide automatic transmission - the first in a low price car. Car sales set a new record at nearly 1.5 million units.
1951: Mild facelift; Dressier "Modern-Mode" interiors. Larger new "Jumbo-Drum" brakes. Most Fleetline fastbacks dropped by mid-model year due to continued flagging sales; Bel Air surges 35 percent.
1952: Styling touched up, colors and trim choices expand.
1953: Corvette sports car with an all fiberglass body introduced. The first 15 cars are built by hand in the back of a customer delivery garage in Flint, Michigan. Passenger Chevys get a fresh look with new bodies; new series names, optional power steering; the larger 235.5 Six becomes standard.
1954: Corvette enters full production but sales disappoint GM.
Passenger models get a light restyle. Power brakes, windows, and seats are first-time options.
1955: All-new "Motoramic" styling for Bel Air, Two-Ten, One-Fifty; High-style Bel Air Nomad wagon debuts; Landmark "small block" V8 makes Chevy "The Hot One." Corvette gets the new "Turbo Fire" V-8
1956: New 205-horsepower "Super Turbo Fire" V-8 - The ads proclaimed "The Hot One's Even Hotter." All-new Corvette offers slick styling, true sports-car moves; Standard Chevys get heavy facelift, new four-door hardtop model for Bel Air and Two-Ten series.
1957: Standard Chevys get a handsome "Baby Cadillac" facelift. 283 V8 engine introduced including a fuel injection option offering "one horsepower per cubic inch." The 150 model two-door sedan, dubbed the "Black Widow," proved invincible - It was the first car outlawed by NASCAR.
1958: Larger, redesigned standard cars - the sharp tailfins of the '57 give way to deeply sculptured rear fenders. Lush Impala models introduced. A "big-block" 348 V8 a new option; descended from a truck engine; Corvette gets more power and a dazzling facelift.
1959:' Chevrolets are radically redesigned, sharing bodyshells with lower-end Buicks and Oldsmobiles (as well as with Pontiac), part of a GM economy move; Impala becomes a separate series; The last fuel-injected engines in anything but a Corvette.
1960: Corvair rear-engined compact introduced - Late intro Monza coupe inspires Ford to produce the Mustang. Standard Chevys get a conservative facelift.
1961: Chevrolet full size cars totally redesigned. The new bodies are more trim than the 1958–60 models and the tail fins are gone for good. Super Sport option for Impalas bows at mid-year. "Real fine" 409 V-8 debuts; Corvette gets a new tail with signature dual lamps; Corvair adds station wagon.
1962: Full-size Chevys get refined styling; Potent 327 V-8 bows; 348 engine dropped. Compact Chevy II introduced to do battle with Ford's conventional Falcon. Corvair Monza adds convertible and a Spyder model with the first turbocharger on a production car. Bel Air / Impala turns into a drag-strip legend - the 409 V8 engine launched the full-size Chevy from 0 to 60 in four and a half seconds.
1963: All-new Corvette Sting Ray stuns the sports-car world - new were hideaway headlights, a fully independent rear suspension, and a coupe with a unique vertically split rear window.
1964: Mid-size Chevelle introduced; Full-size line restyled. Corvair volume falls.
1965: Chevrolet full size cars redesigned with a new full width perimeter frame and new bodies featuring curved side glass and a sharper angled windshield. Corvair redesigned with stylish new bodies and a fully independent rear suspension similar to Corvette. Caprice introduced as a luxurious four-door hardtop, Chevelle gets a front facelift; 396 big-block V8 engine introduced;
1966: Chevy II and Chevelle get stylish new bodies; 396 now the sole Chevelle SS powerplant; Caprice becomes separate top-line series. Corvair sales plunge as safety controversy mounts. New 427 big-block option for Corvette and full-size Chevys.
1967: Mustang-fighting Camaro bows with a new 350 small-block option. Corvair drops Corsa models, turbo engine; Rare 560-hp L-88 option for Corvette; Full-size cars get new curvier bodies; Impala SS 427 added.
1968: Radically restyled Corvette debuts. The design based on the '65 Mako Shark II concept car would last fourteen years - sales actually increased as performance declined. Corvair four-door hardtops dropped; Impala SS reverts to option status; Impala SS 427 continues; 307 V-8 replaces 283. Chevelle redesigned with 2-door models on a shorter wheelbase, Chevy Nova redesigned - both.with semi-fastback styling. The L-78 375-horsepower 396 Nova SS was capable of low 14s at 100 mph. Camaro wins Trans-Am Championship.
1969: Corvair discontinued - the last Corvair is produced in May, a gold Monza coupe; Impala SS dropped; Impala SS 427 continues in its last season; Astro Ventilation bows on passenger cars - eliminates vent windows; Caprice gets a hideaway-headlight option; Camaro facelifted, repeats as Trans-Am champion; Camaro RS/SS convertible Indy 500 pace car edition released. Camaro COPO ZL1 427 V8s with 435/430-horsepower available this year only. Corvette revives Stingray name, sets another sales record.
1970: Second generation Camaro debuts mid-year - handling was the best yet. New Monte Carlo puts Chevy in the personal-luxury game; Big-block V8 swells to 454 cubic inches. GM displacement ban lifted on midsize cars, gives Chevelle SS 450-horsepower.
1971: Vega 2300 introduced. The all-new subcompact is a record $200 million investment for General Motors. Its mission - to battle the imports and bring in new customers. Chevrolet full size cars get complete redesign - are the largest cars ever sold by Chevrolet; Engines detuned to run on unleaded gas. Last Monte Carlo SS454.
1972: Engines shift from gross to net ratings, power slides again. Minor styling revisions on Full-size cars/Chevelle/Monte Carlo; Camaro comes close to extinction. The last Impala convertible.
1973: Redesigned Chevelle / Monte Carlo - new rooflines combined frameless hardtop-style door glass with strong B-pillars to meet rollover standards - Chevelle hardtops and convertibles dropped; New Monte Carlo has the longest hood ever on a Chevrolet; Nova facelifted, two-door model gets a hatchback option; All models get larger 5 mph front bumpers - except Corvette and Chevelle Laguna, sporting urethane front ends, hidden 5 mph bumper systems. 1-millionth Vega produced in May; Wankel rotary engine powered Vegas undergo cold weather testing in Canada but rotary engine is stillborn after program is cancelled two years later.
1974: Vega and Camaro facelifted with sloped front-ends and aluminum bumpers; Corvette gets a new-look tapered rear end; other models modified for rear 5-mph standard with new bumpers. The last big-block 454 V8 engine in a Corvette; "Spirit of America" special edition Vega, Nova and Impala introduced sporting white exteriors with white vinyl tops, red/blue striping/I.D transfers and white vinyl interiors.
1975: Sporty Vega-based Monza 2+2 debuts - a new 262 V8 is optional; Cosworth Vega bows after a five-year long gestation period - Its hand-built twin cam four was the first Chevrolet engine to use electronic fuel injection; Camaro Z/28 dropped; Monza Towne Coupe bows mid-year with half-vinyl top and opera windows to battle Mustang II Ghia. Nova fully restyled, while roadability improved by borrowing some Camaro suspension components; Vega sales drop 50 percent, its reputation tarnished from engine problems; Caprice Classic convertible and Corvette convertible furloughed at season's end.
1976: Chevette mini-car bows as a second import-fighter - the U.S version of GM's worldwide "T-Car" is the smallest Chevy ever, more than a foot shorter than the Vega.
1977: Full-size line "downsized" in complete redesign; Corvette drops Stingray name. Camaro Z/28 returns to lineup. Vega cancelled the end of the model year.
1978: Smaller Malibu replaces Chevelle; Monte Carlo also downsized; Indy Pace Car and 25th Anniversary Corvettes offered; All Corvettes get a new fastback rear window, a new dash and 25th anniversary emblems. Camaro's bumpers replaced by "soft" fascias. Chevette five-door hatchback bows; Vega hatchback and wagon reborn with Monza badging and Pontiac "Iron Duke" engine.
1979: Nova discontinued mid-year; Citation, Chevy's first front-wheel drive car bows in Spring as an early 1980 model; Camaro's new Berlinetta model replaces Type LT; Corvette's best sales year ever.
1980: All-new compact Citation debuts; Monte Carlo adds Turbo V6 power; Corvette gets a contemporary look with integrated front and rear spoilers, and shed 150 pounds via lighter body panels and greater use of aluminum components; Big Chevys get "aero" facelift; Monza wagon dropped; Monza V-8 option dropped, leaving Pontiac-4 and V6 engines - it's the last year for the six-year old Vega-based sportsters.
1981: All engines adopt "Computer Command Control" electronics. Monte Carlo gets "aero" facelift with a lower-profile nose, crisper contours and other styling changes; Corvette sheds another 100 pounds via thinner door glass and a monoleaf rear spring made of plastic instead of steel.
1982: Camaro completely redesigned; Subcompact Cavalier introduced, replaces Monza; New mid-size Celebrity introduced - both are front wheel drive. Camaro Indy 500 pace car edition- are specially trimmed T-top Z/28s.
1983: Monte Carlo SS returns. Chevette S (Sport) model bows; 78-vintage Malibu rear-wheel drives dropped the end of the year. Citation sales fall 43 percent from continued adverse publicity over brake problems.
1984: Corvette redesigned - the first all-new Corvette in fifteen years; Citation II debuts, little changed from previous models but the car's new badges suggested otherwise.
1985: 4.3 Liter V6 introduced; Camaro adds IROC-Z model. Chevy markets the Nova made by NUMMI, formed by GM and Toyota - the sole factory in California is rated the highest in quality control. Chevrolet markets Japanese subcompacts - Isuzu-built Spectrum and Suzuki-built Sprint.
1986: The first Corvette convertible in twelve years is released - all are Indy 500 pace car editions. Impala dropped. Monte Carlo gets LS model with a smoother nose and composite headlamps. Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe introduced; Citation II dropped.
1987: Camaro revives convertible; Chevette dropped at mid-year; Base-model Monte Carlo dropped - sales down nearly 35 percent on remaining LS and SS models.
1988: Beretta / Corsica introduced. Corvette 35th anniversary limited edition released; Cavaliers get a facelift, lose hatchback; Monte Carlo departs at midyear.
1989: Geo subdivision of entry-level vehicles introduced to market the NUMMI-built Prism, the Suzuki-built Metro, and the Isuzu-built Storm and Spectrum; Corsica adds a hatchback.
1990: New front wheel drive Lumina introduced in base and sport Euro models replaces mid-size Celebrity, New Lumina APV front wheel drive mini-van has radically-sloped nose, "spaceframe" with composite body panels; Corvette's cockpit gets a sweepy new dash; Beretta Indy 500 pace car edition. Corvette crushes three endurance and speed world records.
1991: Caprice gets first restyle in 14 years with two-inchs longer overall length and width, weight up 200 pounds. A minor facelift freshens Corvette. Lumina adds Z34 coupe. Chevy counters Mustang with a Police Package of their own for the Camaro - production unknown, probably low.
1992: Lumina adds sporty Euro 3.4 sedan option; Caprice LTZ joins Caprice sedan and Classic but sales plunge 50 percent; Cavailer gets standard ABS; Camaro Heritage 25th birthday option; New LT1 V-8 ups standard 'Vette power; Corvette production passes 1 million.
1993: Camaro wore a completely new design for the first time in more than a decade, but many of the styling elements are carried over. Corvette 40th Anniversary package.
1994: Impala SS reborn based on the '82 concept car; new generation Camaro convertible arrives.
1995: Cavalier redesigned after 13 years in the same basic form - foremost among the changes is a sleek new body and revised interior. Monte Carlo returns with front-wheel drive replacing Lumina coupe.
1996: Corvette offers special Grand Sports and Collector Editions.
1997: The fifth generation Corvette, the most sophisticated ever is introduced with a new LS1 340 hp V8. Malibu front-wheel drive sedan introduced. Camaro offers 30th Anniversary and revived SS options. Geo subdivision dropped - NUMMI-built Prism marketed as a Chevrolet.
1998: C5 Corvette adds convertible; Camaro, Lumina boast more power; Camaro fresh face; Cavalier revives Z24 convertible.
1999: Hardtop Corvette debuts.
2000: Impala reborn as a front wheel drive sedan. Monte Carlo redesigned on platform shared with Impala; Malibu sheds 4-cyl. engine, gets mild facelift.
2001: Corvette hardtop transformed into high-performance Z06. Cavalier Z24 convertible dropped.
2002: Camaro marks its 35th birthday and final season for seven years; Camaro SS limited edition 35th Anniversary package; Corvette Z06 powers up to 405 horses. Cavalier Z24 sedan limited edition added.
2003: Corvette celebrates its 50th Anniversary - a special edition coupe and convertible arrive.
2004: Malibu redesigned - offered in a longer wheelbase hatchback, Malibu Maxx. Subcompact Aveo sedan and hatchback introduced.
2005: Sixth generation Corvette introduced. Cobolt introduced, replacing the twenty four year-old Cavalier nameplate.
2006: Retro-styled HHR debuts; C6 Corvette gets new Z06 model - its 427.5-inch LS7 engine makes 505 net horsepower. Malibu gets an SS version; Impala freshened.
2008: Malibu redesigned on a revised version of the Epsilon platform developed by GM's German subsidiary, Opel.
2009: New Camaro introduced - it's the 2006 concept car, virtually unchanged. Corvette ZR1 introduced with a top speed of 205 mph - It is GM's fastest production vehicle of all time.
2010: Under a GM global design and engineering team, the Chevy Cruise is introduced in the U.S. - replaces Cobolt.
2011: The Volt "extended-range electric vehicle" is introduced. New Camaro convertible debuts; Australian-built Caprice PPV sold to U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies.
2012: A new Malibu moves to the Epsilon II platform. It will become a global vehicle available in nearly 100 countries on six continents. In the U.S. it is manufactured in Kansas and Michigan; Camaro 580-horsepower supercharged ZL1 announced. "100 Chevrolet" Corvette special edition (offered on all Corvette models) features new carbon flash metallic paint, special interior appointments, red stripped wheels, centennial emblems and I.D. transfers (in the heading above).

see also-
Chevrolet Centennial: Prewar Cars 1911-1942
http://www.mo...11-1919-10523

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 9 of 9

trubluukfan’s Profile Photo
trubluukfan
Mar 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm
Cool
 
CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
CorvairJim
Feb 28, 2012 at 2:22 am
Great work as always, Bob!
 
Crazyfast79TA’s Profile Photo
Crazyfast79TA
Feb 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm
Thanks for the updates! I bet you're going to find/add more!
 
PRECISIONDRIVER’s Profile Photo
PRECISIONDRIVER
Feb 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm
Good stuff. keep it up Bob!
 
trubluukfan’s Profile Photo
trubluukfan
Feb 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm
Very cool info
 
RancheroBoy’s Profile Photo
RancheroBoy
Feb 25, 2012 at 7:03 pm
Bet the Electric Starter in 1915 was really appreciated.
 
Kayleigh’s Profile Photo
Kayleigh
Feb 25, 2012 at 12:26 am
Great post. Lot's of info there.
 
Justa6’s Profile Photo
Justa6
Feb 24, 2012 at 9:47 pm
Good post
 
Crazyfast79TA’s Profile Photo
Crazyfast79TA
Feb 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm
Thanks for all the information! I'm sure there's a lot more that weren't ground-breakers, but still milestones with redesigns and complete make-overs.
 

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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > Chevrolet Centennial: Postwar Cars 1946-2012

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