Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS

Over the last 40-plus years, Eddie Osgard has bought, enjoyed and sold 20 Corvettes, as well as a couple of Shelby Mustangs. But his first brand-new Chevrolet, a 1965 Chevelle SS, was the car he couldn’t stop thinking about.

Looking at that Chevelle’s twin on these pages–a car he purchased used in 2006 and meticulously restored to like-new condition–it’s easy to understand why.

 

Wih the jet-age styling excesses of the late 1950s in the rearview mirror, Detroit designers were getting back to basics by the early 1960s. Chevrolet’s new-for-1964 Chevelle turned the clock back to 1955, just before tailfins, Dagmars and cruise-ship-length two-door cars became fashionable.

 

The 1964-’65 Chevelle and the 1955 Chevrolet both rode on 115-inch wheelbases and measured 74-inches wide. The ’55 was about 1.5 inches longer and, not surprisingly, six inches higher. Chevrolet played up this comparison in its promotions for the Chevelle, probably to show that its new midsize car was not a penalty box, offering as much room as its full-size model of a decade prior.

 

The Chevelle’s trim, toned-down appearance was meant to offend no one, and it was offered in body styles to suit every need: two-door sedan, coupe and convertible, four-door sedan and station wagon. It also ushered in the return of the El Camino pickup.

But Chevelle was also a natural performance car: lightweight at 3,165 pounds (with a V-8 engine) and capable of easily accommodating either a small-block or Chevrolet’s new Mark IV big-block engine. In Super Sport trim, which added special badging, trim and wheel covers, bucket seats and special instruments, a floor shift and available performance options like Posi-Traction, sintered brakes and a tachometer, the buttoned-down Chevelle looked very much the part of a boulevard brawler. Hot engine options in 1964 included a 250-hp 327, a 300-hp 327 and the 365-hp 327. In 1965, the 327 returned in 250-hp, 300-hp and 350-hp flavors, but the top dog was the Malibu SS 396–RPO Z16–powered by the 375-hp 396. The 1965 Chevelle is basically a face-lifted 1964, but for ’65, Super Sports boasted a blacked-out grille and satin-black painted tail panel treatment (silver on the rear of a black vehicle), front- and rear-wheel opening moldings and a new sill molding, standard SS wheel covers and new taillamps (for the entire Chevelle line) with backup lamps mounted on the rear bumper.

 

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