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Muscle To Masterpiece: The Greatest Chevrolet SS Models Ever Made

Vukasin Herbez February 3, 2023

Photo Credit: Mecum

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

In the late ’60s, the Monte Carlo was a handsome coupe-only car with V8 engines, a nice interior, and decent interiors. Even though most of Monte Carlos came with smaller V8 engines, bought by the people concentrated on the luxury aspect of this model, there still was one crazy muscle option with the SS 454 package (via Hemmings).

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This version was a true full-size muscle beast with a monstrous 7.4-liter V8 engine. That pumped 360 HP and propelled the heavy Monte Carlo to extraordinary 0 to 60 mph times. For just $420 above the base price, buyers could get this trim level, which transformed this coupe from a somewhat lazy cruiser to a quarter-mile beast. However, only around 3,800 people decided to do so. The Monte Carlo SS 454 remains one of the rarest luxury muscle cars ever produced.

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1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 454

The El Camino was a half-car/half-truck vehicle for carrying light loads and delivery duty and a useful tool for small business owners. And most of them lived their lives exactly like that. But, in 1970, Chevrolet introduced the wildest El Camino of all in the form of the El Camino SS 454 (via Hemmings).

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The mighty 454 V8 LS6 was a 7.4-liter Chevrolet’s big block engine with a 450 HP official rating. The engine delivered around 500 HP in real life. It was a fire-breathing beast and one of the best engines of the muscle car era. In the El Camino SS, this engine provided significant performance figures which were close to the best regular muscle cars of the day.

Photo Credit: GM

1990 Chevrolet 454 SS

The basic idea behind this model was to offer the biggest available engine in the lightest full-size truck. It embodied the muscle car philosophy in truck form. Chevrolet engineers took the ordinary 1990 Chevy 1500 pickup truck with a short bed option and added a massive 454 V8 engine to it. The enormous 7.2-liter V8 was good enough for 230 to 255 HP.

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That was a somewhat diminutive number by comparison, but it also had 385 lb.-ft of torque that made it fly down the road (via Motor Trend). Chevrolet took this engine from its heavy-duty truck lineup, and it was a durable but also thirsty machine. On the outside, 454 SS was kind of low-key, without any wild graphics or color choices.

Photo Credit: GM

1994 Chevrolet Impala SS

You might know the seventh-generation Impala as a taxi or police cruiser (Caprice). Or perhaps as just an ordinary family sedan standard in suburban America of the ’90s. But there was one version of this platform that threw away the boring image of an ordinary sedan for muscle car performance and felt – the Impala SS. Since the early ’90s marked the return to performance for most American manufacturers, Chevrolet installed the famous 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine in the full-size rear-wheel drive sedan. Then they equipped it with heavy-duty suspension and components and created a modern-day muscle legend (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: GM

For two years, Chevrolet produced a solid number of Impala SS models in several colors, with dark purple being the most popular and sought-after. The engine delivered 260 HP and propelled the big sedan to 0 to 60 mph time of seven seconds. These are not exactly spectacular numbers, but for the mid-’90s, they were quite good results.

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2002 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The fourth-generation Camaro, along with its twin brother the Pontiac Firebird, lasted until 2002 and then went on an eight-year hiatus. During its nine-year lifespan, Chevrolet improved the Camaro greatly, not only aesthetically but with the introduction of various mechanical improvements. They also implemented new, more powerful engines, which added to the performance and style of the late ’90s and early ’00s Camaros (via Cars).

Photo Credit: GM

Arguably the best Camaro from that period is the 2001-2002 SS version that featured a 5.7-liter V8 with 325 HP. The combination of a powerful engine, sturdy chassis, and six-speed manual made the fourth-generation Camaro SS the quintessential muscle car in every aspect. It boasted the same feel, noise, and performance as legendary models from the ’60s, but with better comfort and ride quality. The early 2000s Camaro SS is remembered as one of the best affordable muscle cars from the period. It was also an excellent basis for modifications since the venerable V8 had significant potential. Achieving 400 to 500 HP from the LS1 V8 was relatively easy for buyers to do.

Photo Credit: GM

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS

Although it was discontinued, the Cobalt SS is one of the best affordable performance cars. Available as a supercharged, turbocharged, or naturally aspirated model, the best SS was the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder introduced in 2008. The engine delivered 260 HP, astonishing by the standards of the day and more than any of its competitors (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: GM

Also, the Cobalt SS had big tuning potential and it was easy to get even more power from this engine. Although based on regular Cobalt, the SS version was different from the boring economy car it originated as.

Photo Credit: GM

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Camaro fans were disappointed when Chevrolet decided to retire the nameplate for the 2003 model year. It looked like Mustang had finally won the muscle car battle since the Firebird was gone and the Mustang was the only domestic muscle car on the market at the moment. However, it turned out that Chevrolet was waiting for the right moment to return the Camaro to the market in a redesigned, restyled, and re-engineered form (via Edmunds).

Photo Credit: GM

That moment came in late 2009 when a brand new, fifth-generation Camaro arrived on the eager market. After a few years of showing concept cars and design renderings, Chevrolet was finally ready to present its modern interpretation of the classic Camaro shape. It had a brand-new, highly-advanced chassis and engines. The base engine was a V6. But right from the start, the fifth-generation Camaro buyers had the option of the SS model with a 6.2-liter V8 engine and 426 HP. It made the 2010 Camaro SS one of the fastest domestic cars at the moment. With an advanced chassis and brutal performance, the Camaro SS was far better than the Mustang GT of the same vintage, which helped Chevrolet beat Ford in the sales war.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

2014 Chevrolet SS

With a 6.2-liter V8, 412 HP, precise steering, and neutral handling, this car rivals Europe’s finest sports sedans. This model is a Holden from Australia rebadged as Chevrolet and fine-tuned for US customers (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Its performance numbers are respectable as a 0 to 60-mph sprint is possible in just 4.7 seconds while the top speed is over 150 mph. The Chevrolet SS is a good proposition for people who need a practical sedan but want a sports car. The styling is elegant and unassuming, which is good since this car can surprise many regular sports models with its performance. The Chevrolet SS is a definite future classic.

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2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS

The Trailblazer is quite a common SUV that will not raise any attention from other motorists or police. However, the SS trim comes with a 6.0-liter V8, which produces 400 HP resulting in a serious performance. Most enthusiasts think SS cars were only sedans, coupes, and similar cars, but the SS moniker could be found on pickups and SUVs as we see here (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: GM

The good thing about Trailblazer SS is that it looks like any other GM SUV from the period and that it is relatively cheap to acquire. But it is far from an ordinary SUV. Overall, this Trailblazer is a very competent model that can go drive fast and provide a decent amount of value for car fans looking to jump into the Chevrolet waters.

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