The Chevelle was produced from 1964 to 1977 in three Generations and came in many body styles, many variations, and a lot of available options. On Chevrolet mid-size “A” body platform it made Chevelle a strong contender in the muscle car market. This line was without a doubt one of the biggest success stories for G.M. and Chevrolet.
The ’64 and ’65 Chevelles came with a Malibu badge on the rear quarter panel with a hard top and a convertible at first. There was also an “SS” package available on the more luxurious Malibu version.
The “SS” option came with emblems and full disc wheel covers while the inside is well appointed with bucket seats and floor console for models fully equipped with the Muncie aluminum four speed manual or Powerglide two speed automatic but not with the basic three speed manual transmission. The dash of the Malibu ‘SS” option came with four gauges in a cluster and also offered a dash mounted tach as a further option. The basic models have a very simple warning light system instead. The optional engine is the 283 cu in with a four barrel putting out 220 hp – at least for the first six months. Just to keep up to the competition in mid-’64 the Chevelle had an optional 327 cu in V8 on the market in two versions both with a four barrel in a choice of 250 or 300 hp (224 kW).
The engine options were okay in ’64 but people wanted more muscle in their cars and so Chevy, aiming to please, added a RPO (regular production option) 327 V8 putting out 350 hp. For the folks with more modest ambitions the Chevelle did offer more conservative engines.
In 1965 with the “Z-16” equipped Malibu SS 396 big block V8 the power crowd also has a new little faster option available. Chevy had a problem producing enough posi trac rear ends to handle the 396 engines there were only 201 of them produced but only 75 still existing with the Malibu “Z-16” option package. There are many that have tried to fake the Z-16 because of its six figure value in today’s market but there is a shortage of the original equipment and trim to re manufacture it. The Malibu hood emblem was dropped at the end of 1965.
In 1966 the body, on the same frame was completely modified and the Chevelle SS 396 became its own series of sport coupes and convertible models with a thicker stabilizer bar in front, springs with a higher rating, and re-calibrated shocks mounted on a stronger reinforced frame. The body was Identical to the Malibu with a little different trim, simulated hood scoops, and red line tires with three different power options on the engine. The 396 motor was available producing either 325 hp, 360 hp, or the highest performer at 375 hp. The SS396 existed as a model for ’66 through to ’68 and then in ’69 it reverted back to an option pack. A special body styled “strut back” two door sport coupe was available only for the ’66 and ’67 models years.
Canadian models kept the” Malibu SS” badges for two more years but their U.S. counterparts were identical Chevelles only differing in lacking the badge trim, domed hood, and a blacked out grill while the northern cousins grill is chrome. Canada did offer a slightly different package with the Malibu sports option which has bucket seats, a center console, full wheel covers, and ribbed rocker covers.