Sunday, September 25, 2011

The 10th Annual Mid-America Chevelle/El Camino Show at the Great Mall was a showcase of big blocks and beautiful rides

Earlier this week, I visited the GM Fairfax Assembly Plant, where they build the current Chevrolet Malibu. So it seemed only appropriate that I explored the history of that nameplate this weekend when I checked out the 10th-Annual Aces Mid-America Chevelle/El Camino Show at the Great Mall of the Great Planes in Olathe.

The Chevelle/Malibu/Malibu SS arrived on the scene in 1964 as a competitor to the Ford Fairlane. I've heard people describe them as the second-coming of the '55-'57 Chevy due to their size. Whatever. They were a nice, intermediate alternative to the large Impala/Bel Air/Biscayne lineup. And for performance enthusiasts, their smaller size lends itself to some pretty exciting things when you have some of the high-horsepower options under the hood.

And speaking of horsepower, by 1965 Chevrolet's storied 396-c.i. big block became a choice, and by 1970, a 454 was added to the line. I bring these engines up specifically, because I'd say at least 90-percent of the '66-'72 Chevelles at this particular show were so equipped.

Now, I hadn't even been born when these cars were new, but I know darn well that this is not a representative sample set of the way things were. I'm not sayin' that these cars didn't all come from the factory with big blocks. But if I were trolling through a salvage yard, and I saw a bunch of former 454 Chevy dually pickups and three-quarter-ton Suburbans with nothing in between the front fenders, I wouldn't be surprised.

When you're walking through rows of one make like this, it is easy to get tunnel vision if you don't know what you're looking at. These cars didn't really have many huge changes throughout their production run, so they can all sort of look similar.

They're not, though. Condition, options, and colors can all really set these cars apart. And there were some of the best combinations of all three at this show.

There was a black '67 with a 396 and red interior that really caught my eye. Of course, I'm a sucker for that color combination every time. There was also a black/black/red '65 convertible with a 327 that I'd say was even nicer.

Marina Blue is one of the most perfect blue hues ever conceived, and there were a few of them at the Great Mall. I really liked a blue-over-blue '66 drop-top with a 396, air, full-wheel covers, and red-lines.

My first car was a '74 Buick Century, so I have a real soft spot for the fastback greenhouse Colonnade coupes. There were two from that era, with the nicest one being a pewter-colored '75 with the Laguna teardrop nose, a four-on-the-floor, and what appeared to be the spoiler from a late-'70s Pontiac Grand Am. I'm sure I was in the minority, but I enjoyed looking at that about as much as anything there.

I think the most popular Chevelles are from the '68-'72 era, and there were almost too many stunning examples of these to list. Lots of hood pins, stripes, big engines, and big money were the order of the day on these cars.

I'm including a slideshow of more than 230 pictures from this year's Mid-America Chevelle/El Camino Show. Pay attention to the details, because there were some really standouts at this event. All of these cars were not created equal, but you should be able to see that the best ones are really spectacular.


  1. Not to be pedantic...but the 396 was actually available in 1965. ;)
    Looks like a great show. Thanx for posting the photos.
    And you are completely correct - Marina blue is the perfect blue!