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A look back at the Chevy revolution

Chevrolet doesn't just build cars and trucks. It creates archetypes. Close your eyes and think of a type of car or truck. It's amazing how often the vehicle in your mind's eye will be a Chevrolet. In chronological order, here are some of the best and most significant cars and trucks in Chevrolet's 100-year history.

1914 Royal Mail: The brand was born in 1911, but 1914 was the first year it built significant numbers of cars. The two-seat Royal Mail and the four-seat 1914 Grand were the first cars engineered from the ground up to be Chevrolets. Well-equipped for their time, standard equipment included a horn and a speedometer.

1932 Roadster: The first Chevrolet to combine luxury-car looks with an affordable price, the 1932 Roadster began Chevrolet's decades-long run as a leader in worldwide automotive design. Sometimes called the "baby Cadillac," the '32 was among the first Chevrolets shaped by design chief Harley Earl.

1935 Suburban: The Suburban is the longest-lived automotive nameplate in continual use. Chevy nailed the formula for a big vehicle to carry plenty of people and haul heavy trailers.

1948 3100 pickup: This roomy truck was Chevrolet's first really new model after WWII's hiatus in civilian vehicle production. It redefined Chevy's workhorse pickups with niceties like colorful interiors, locking doors and a radio.

1955-57 Bel Air: This three model-year run was the pinnacle of 1950s automaking. Its model line stretched from basic transportation to fast and stylish V-8 convertibles and the two-door Nomad station wagon. The '57 Chevy became the symbol of 1950s America.

1963 Corvette Sting Ray: The Sting Ray was a breakthrough in style and substance. Designed by Larry Shinoda and one of the triumphs of Bill Mitchell's reign as GM styling boss, it was the first 'Vette with Chevy's small-block V-8 and an independent rear suspension.

1967 Camaro: Chevy's answer to the Ford Mustang, the Camaro ignited a passionate competition that's still burning. The first generation offered everything the Camaro family provides to this day, with a model range that included six-cylinder and V-8 engines, coupe and convertible bodies.

1999 Chevrolet Silverado pickup: The Silverado introduced the GMT800, one of the most capable vehicle platforms in the auto industry's history. The GMT800 spun off a dizzying variety of vehicles, from humble work trucks to Cadillac SUVs fit to carry a head of state. Annual sales of GMT800-based vehicles topped the gross domestic product of many countries.

2008 Malibu: A return to the style and value that made icons of earlier Chevys, the Malibu returned the brand to relevance in the family car.

2011 Volt: The Volt solved problems that short-circuited electric cars for a century: range and charging time. Its innovative drivetrain can cover around 40 miles on batteries and longer distances thanks to a small engine that produces more electricity.

A look back at the Chevy revolution 08/18/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:17am]
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