By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection and Robert Tate's Collection
In 1969, I remember going to a local dealership with a family member to see all of the new 1969 models on display at Dexter Chevrolet on West Eight Mile Road in Detroit. I was very much impressed with the new Camaro and Corvette models because they represented the sporty car world, along with the great looking Chevelle models first introduced to the public in 1964.
The 1969 Chevrolets (National Automotive History Collection)
This story is about the great designs of the Chevrolet models for 1969 and remembering their great styling features. The full-size Chevrolets were manufactured in Caprice, Bel Air, Biscayne and Impala series which were thoroughly enjoyed by the public. The models offered 15 “Magic Mirror Colors.” They offered a power door lock system, along with power disc brakes and a great looking front end design that featured concealed headlights. The Biscayne four-door sedan was the lowest priced full-size model offered for $2,776.
1969 Chevy Impala Sport Sedan (Robert Tate Collection)
The 1969 Chevelle models did not change much from the previous year, but the public really enjoyed their great styling. In fact, Chevy sold a total of 367,100 Chevelle Malibu units in 1969. The Chevelle SS 396 models offered a 396-cubicinch, 325-horsepower engine that young people really enjoyed. Chevrolet advertising called it the class bully. “Challenge it. That's one way to find out what makes the Chevelle SS 396 toughest in the class,” or “Chevelle appeals to two age groups. Under 30. And over.”
1969 Chevy Chevelle ad (Robert Tate Collection)
Another popular Chevrolet model that is only pictured in the group photo was the Chevy II Nova coupe. The Nova models were great looking cars and manufactured with a number of options or accessories. The Nova also was available with the new SS package, which attracted many young adults at a cost of $2,389.
1969 Chevrolet Corvette interior (National Automotive History Collection)
The 1969 Corvettes offered removable roof panels which were very unique to the model. They also offered chrome edge fender vents and were manufactured at the St. Louis assembly plant. In 1969, the Corvette reached production of 38,762 units, which was great for General Motors sales. There were many improvements in the 1969 Corvette models: exterior door handles were improved, black-painted grille bars replaced chrome, the back-up lights came together with the inner taillights, and the handling was improved with wider-rim wheels.
1969 yellow Chevy Camaro and red Corvette (National Automotive History Collection)
Finally, the 1969 Camaro models became an iconic vehicle in automotive history. The Camaro Convertible with the Rally Sport trim package became very popular among enthusiasts and collectors. However, 1969 would be the last convertible package for Camaro for many years. The 1969 Indianapolis 500 featured a Camaro as its Pace Car. One of the most popular Camaro models was the Z-28. The vehicle offered distinctive striping, special suspension components and a 290 horsepower turbo jet engine. The great looking vinyl top and larger engine options were extra.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro Indy 500 Pace Car (Robert Tate Collection)
1969 was a great year with great music by the Beatles and Sly and The Family Stone, along with great looking Chevrolet models by General Motors. The 1969 Chevrolets were designed under the direction of the great Bill Mitchell, a tremendously driven person who created legandary automotive designs.
Ludvigsen, Karl. “Corvette: America's Star-Spangled Sports Car, The Complete History.” Automobile Quarterly Publications.
The Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. “Chevrolet Chronicle: The Complete & Colorful Story of Chevrolet from 1904.”
Dammann, George H. “Sixty Years of Chevrolet.” Crestline Auto Books, 1972.