1967- The Muscle Car Gets Serious


 In 1967 the GTO had become such an icon that Pontiac Head John Z. DeLorean thought his Banshee show car would give him a legitimate shot at the only American Sports Car….the Corvette.  Nervous General Motors executives quickly shot that down fearing a repeat of the GTO.  Instead they gave him their newest model for 1967 the Camaro and told him to make Pontiac a version of that.

The 1967 GTO was everything Pontiac had learned from the past 3 years of building Muscle Cars.  The body lines were pretty much left alone from the 1966 model, but the details were smoothed out.  Overall, in most collectors opinions it was the most beautiful GTO ever built.

Shown here in the one year only Plum Mist color, the big news was under the hood.  The 389 was now gone and in its place was the new 400 cubic inch engine.  Given the 400 cubic inch limit for all intermediates, Pontiac now joined Oldsmobile and Buick in building  an engine to use all that was allowed.  Even if it was only 4 cubic inches, GTO now had a bigger engine than the Chevelle.  Prior to 1967 the GTO had the smallest of the GM big blocks.

The Firebird was the car developed from the Camaro at Pontiac.  Small and sporty it was designed to compete with the Camaro of course but the target for GM with both cars was to beat the Ford Mustang in the Pony Car segment.  The Firebird came with a straight 6 cylinder in base form but for V8 power used the proven 326 or the optional 400 cubic inch engine from the GTO.  This was the first year of the new rule against multiple carburetors for anything other than the Corvette.  As the designers and engineers kept finding loopholes to exploit the engines and power options for their Muscle Cars, the heads of GM kept coming up with new rules to shut them down.  The newest loopholes were to have Dealers install bigger engines at that level and make use of Dealer Installed Performance Options. 

Given the competition coming from all manufacturers in Detroit (and Kenosha, Wisconsin in the case of AMC) the Pontiac Grand Prix also joined in the fray.  Although based on a larger frame from the full size models, it got new styling for 1967 and also the 400 as the standard engine.  Optional was the replacement for the 421, the new 428.  This engine was used by a few dealers as a dealer installed upgrade for the Firebird.

The Grand Prix was one of the classier cars sold in 1967 with its hidden headlights and louvered tail lights that mimicked the GTO look.  Even the front turn signals had the louvered look.

Over at Chevrolet, the Chevy II name dropped to just being the Nova.  This was to be the final year for the boxy little car’s body lines with a redesign for 1968 scheduled.  It was time to reinvent the Nova. The small block was still the biggest engine available for the Nova even though its 327 was now 350 cubic inches.

 The newest Muscle car for Chevrolet was the Camaro.  It was a new for 1967 model.  And it came with options for either an SS or a RS package.  SS was for Super Sport and RS was for Ralleye Sport.  Because of confusion with the way order forms were designed and the overlap on option sheets you could even get both a SS/RS or an RS/SS package on the same vehicle.  Many if not most SS Camaros were just so ordered. 

Of course the engine choices ran from the straight 6 cylinder base engine to the new 350 V8 and the SS 396 was the top of the line engine.  Some Dealer installs were being made with putting the 427 engine from the Corvette into the Camaro body, but it was not a factory option.

The 1967 Chevelle was now designated a 138 model when ordered as an SS396.  The 138 serial number designated the Sport coupe chassis that was used for the top of the line Muscle Car.  The Chevelle and the rest of the General Motors Divisions were busy redesigning the intermediate models for 1968.  It was time to give them their own identity’s instead of being smaller versions of the full size models.

Davey Boy

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