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Chevy has fitted a '73 Chevelle with a 755bhp ZR1 engine
Massively powerful modern engine. 1970s American muscle car. Blend. Enjoy
If there’s one way to fix the Malaise Era, it’s with modern muscle. And we’re inclined to believe that Chevy’s latest is definitely muscular enough. In fact, the menacing bruiser you see pictured here is equipped with the sort of brute force that’s usually reserved for bullet trains: a full 755bhp and 715lb ft of torque.
Yes, this is the car equivalent of a man who crushes his empty Miller Lites against his forehead, regardless of the fact that they’re actually glass bottles. And it’s just one of three muscle machines that Chevrolet has built (although, oddly, it’s the only one that they’ve photographed) to showcase its new range of bombastically powerful crate engines ahead of the SEMA show in November. There’ll be a pair of trucks on the stand displaying variations on the ‘Chevy V8 swap or GTFO’ theme, but our interest is firmly in the Chevelle.
Back in 1973, the Chevelle Laguna came as standard with a 5.7-litre V8, capable of an incomprehensibly paltry 145bhp. If you were so inclined, you could spec a four-barrel carb version with 175bhp, or dispense with any pretext to economy and plump for a 7.4-litre big-block V8 with a storming 245bhp. Ah, the 1970s: when there really was no replacement for displacement. And when synthetic velvet was a totally appropriate fabric to wear to a nightclub.
This particular 1973 Chevelle Laguna’s frankly absurd 755bhp comes courtesy of Chevy’s brand-spanking 6.2-litre LT5 V8. Its other home, as Chevrolet fans will happily tell you, is underneath the bonnet of the unhinged Corvette ZR1.
A more American engine is hard to conceive, really – eight cylinders, each with more internal space than a wine bottle, arranged in a V and force-fed air from a supercharger that’s bigger than most engines. The LT5 has both port and direct injection, because 755 horsepower isn’t just going to magic itself out of thin air.
Yes, it’s terrible for the environment and yes, it celebrates one of the worst eras of American cars and… it’s no use. We want this, badly. We want this car, from its red-letter sidewalls to its villainous black-on-black colour scheme. And, perhaps even more, we want the culture that created it because of an adherence to a simple mantra: driving a car can be really, really fun, so why don’t we make sure it is?
It’s the sort of thing you just can’t imagine happening in an environment as staid and overtly serious as ours: manufacturers selling their engines directly to punters, so they can tear old cars to bits and massage in an engine with about six times more power than is strictly necessary. Why? Well, why not?