Will there ever be another chance for the Chevelle to return to the automotive spotlight as a modern car? Well, that depends on who you ask and what you’re looking to get out of a modern Chevelle.
Ever since the Chevrolet SS Concept was debuted for the 2003 North American International Auto Show, rumors pop up every couple of years on the automotive landscape about the return of the Chevelle.
The SS Concept was a design exercise using the “Super Sport” design language, which borrowed cues from the SS heritage found on several of Chevrolet’s past designs. Sadly, this concept car was never intended to move forward closer towards production. Still, that didn’t keep fans from buzzing with speculation about the possibilities of the Chevelle (or maybe some other long-gone favorite) returning.
Another false start came in the form of the CODE 130R Concept car debuted at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
The 130R was intended to be a compact RWD coupe on a downsized version of GM’s Alpha platform, which first underpinned the Cadillac ATS and later the 6th generation Camaro. Unfortunately, a combination of not only issues with downsizing the platform further but a shakeup in GM’s leadership put that possibility out to pasture.
Hope sprang up again in 2013 when it was leaked that Chevrolet filed a trademark for the Chevelle nameplate. Thus far, this has been the most concrete piece of evidence that Chevelle could make a comeback. However, nearly a decade has passed and nothing more ever became of this trademark filing.
The Chevy SS, which was released in 2014 and since discontinued in 2018, would have made the most sense as the way to bring the Chevelle back from the grave.
It was a rear wheel drive sport sedan on GM’s Zeta platform, powered by the Camaro and Corvette’s 415 hp LS small block. Offered with a 6 speed manual transmission, big Brembo brakes, and finely tuned suspension, it truly was the modern interpretation of the iconic Chevrolet. Ultimately it became a missed opportunity.
It was the last in a short line of rebadged Holdens that GM released in North America, such as the Pontiac GTO and Pontiac G8s of previous years. While this move might have upset some purists, the Holden Commodore that the SS was based on is no stranger to tire-melting V8 performance pedigree.
The problem was that many enthusiasts were asking for this combination, but no one bought it.
It can be said that this was Chevrolet’s fault, as they did almost nothing to advertise its existence and therefore no one knew it was out there. It was deemed a failed product, so GM quietly killed the SS in 2018. It seems very unlikely that a similar car could pop up in the future as Holden has shut its doors for good and GM can no longer lean on them to import specialty cars into North America.
The El Camino once had a better chance of getting a revival, if it weren’t for the 2008 global financial crisis that is. GM had been considering porting over Holden’s Ute to North America as the Pontiac G8 ST (Sport Truck), but those plans were unfortunately scrapped.
Holden had produced two generations of the Commodore-based Ute from 2000 to 2018, with the 07-18 Commodore VE generation being exported as the Chevrolet Lumina SS in other global markets.
So where does that leave the possibilities for the Chevelle today?
GM’s Zeta platform was based on Holden’s work and underpinned the 2010-2015 Camaro, 2008-2009 Pontiac G8, and 2013-2017 Chevy SS. Production of the Zeta platform ceased in 2017 and the focus transitioned to the GM Alpha platform, which was itself based on Zeta but engineered to be a more compact version for smaller RWD & AWD vehicles. Judging by GM executives’ decision on the CODE 130R concept study, it is not suitable either.
That leaves the Omega platform as the only other RWD option currently in production, which is intended for full-size RWD and AWD applications. With everything so far pointing towards GM’s desire to compete with inexpensive compact RWD coupes like the Subaru BRZ & Toyota 86, this doesn’t seem like the candidate either.
If we stick to what the Chevelle’s best known as that would be the only place it could slot into GM’s lineup without cannibalizing sales of another product. While the Chevy SS failed due to lack of awareness, Cadillac’s CT4 and larger CT5 sell well and occupy the mid and large sport sedan segments, and the Camaro continues to be the premier muscle car in the General’s roster.
Aside from trucks, most of Chevrolet’s lineup is trending towards crossovers and electric vehicles for the foreseeable future. The compact Cruze is gone, and the remaining Malibu sedan will follow shortly in 2024.
General Motors has recently pledged to accelerate EV adoption and is committed to offering all-electric vehicles by 2035, so it seems that if they pull the trigger on the iconic name that it will have an electric powerplant. Ruling out a sporty compact coupe or sport sedan, the only other possibility for the Chevelle to make a return would be as an Electric Vehicle, much like they’ve done with the Hummer EV or even like Ford’s Mustang Mach-E.
GM does have a history of repurposing famous nameplates over the years, with the W-Body cars of the 90s & 00s being prime examples. Several of the most well-known names like Impala, Malibu, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Bonneville, and others were now FWD economy coupes and sedans during this era, with the Malibu being the last survivor.
It’s certainly possible for a “chEVelle” to make a debut sometime in the coming years.
It would be a perfect opportunity for GM to generate interest in their program, whether the buzz is positive or negative it will get people talking. Beyond General Motors, many governments around the world are moving towards banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles by some time in the 2030s.
There could be a possibility where Chevy decides to market a low-volume limited edition model before they eliminate their internal combustion engines, but it seems unlikely that a modern version of the classic Chevelle we know and love will ever make it to production.