1973 Chevrolet Can Am
The 1973 Chevrolet Can Am, also called the Firenza, is a legendary muscle car that is rare and has a loyal and enthusiastic following. Most Americans have never heard of this classic Chevy racer, though. Only 100 were manufactured and they were made in South Africa. Enthusiasts of the car can be found today in South Africa, Australia, and to some extent in Great Britain.
The highly collectible 1973 Chevrolet Can Am owes its origins to GM’s British brand the Vauxhall. In 1970, the Vauxhall viva came out with new styling that resembled the muscle cars popular in the U.S. The coupe version was called the Firenza, and in South Africa this new Viva became the Chevrolet Firenza. Although the 1973 Chevrolet Can Am models were small, they fit a small-block Chevy engine in them and created a fast racing car.
Of those cars, just 100 were made to comply fully with the rules for the South African Argus Production series. They were all white with black hoods and a 302 engine with 290 horsepower. This was the same engine that went into the 1967 through 1969 Camaro Z/28s. The 1973 Chevrolet Can Am models also got the M21 four-speed transmission with a Hurst shifter, alloy wheels, a belt line stripe, and an aluminum spoiler as components of the basic package. The result was a little muscle car that could compete, in terms of performance, with the best being made in the U.S. at the time.
Known at the time as the “Little Chev,” the 1973 Chevrolet Can Am was a hit with car enthusiasts in South Africa. At only about 2,400 pounds and with its powerful engine, it could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just over five seconds and hit a maximum speed of 140. While this great muscle car is an important part of South African motoring history, most Americans have no idea it ever existed. Those lucky enough to come across one, will not forget it.