Classic Cars A to Z

Chevy Chevelle (1965)

Article by Mark Trotta

Introduced a year earlier, Chevy's intermediate-size Chevelle was available as a 2-door sports coupe, 2-door or 4-door sedan, 2-door or 4-door wagon, or 2-door convertible.

Chevy Chevelle history 1965

Minor revisions for 1965 included a new front grille and bumper. Taillights were also new, with reverse lights moved to the rear bumper. Chevelle coupes and sedans were 2.7 inches longer and 1.3 inches lower than the previous year.

For exterior paint, buyers could choose from 15 solid colors and 8 two-tones. A new vinyl roof option could only be ordered on Sport Coupe models with a solid color.



Last year's trim options remained; base 300, Malibu, and Malibu Super Sport. New for 1965 was the 300 Deluxe, available as a 2-door sedan, 4-door sedan, or 4-door wagon.

Identifying each series could be told by side panel emblems. The base 300 series emblems read 'Chevelle 300'. On the 300 Deluxe, there was a chrome molding on the lower beltline.



First offered on the 1964 Chevelle, the extra-cost Malibu trim level remained a popular option throughout the car's history. It included trim molding that ran across the sides of the car, and chrome emblems which read 'Malibu'. Inside, the glove compartment door received a Malibu badge.

1965 Chevelle Malibu

With the Malibu option, consumers could opt for front bucket seats with floor console and shifter.

Malibu Super Sport

Unlike the 1965 GTO, the Malibu SS was not a performance package, but merely gave the buyer trim and appearance upgrades over a standard Malibu. This included front bucket seats, deluxe steering wheel, special dash with round gauges, and a floor-mounted shifter.



In addition, there was special exterior trim and badging. Malibu Super Sport models featured stainless steel molding on the car's beltline and wheel opening moldings, and full wheel covers with "SS" in the center. At the rear, an SS emblem was placed next to the taillight.


1965 Chevelle Engine Choices

Base transmission was a 3-speed manual column shift. V8 engines were available with either a floor-mounted 4-speed or 2-speed automatic.


327/350 Horsepower

The 350-horsepower 327ci V8 was offered with the Super Sport trim package. With 11.01:1 compression, the small-block engine produced 360 ft/lbs of torque at 3600 rpm. This was the highest horsepower small-block V8 with hydraulic lifters to date, and quickly established itself as a serious performance motor.

1965 Chevelle L79 engine

The L79 engine featured a 4-barrel carb, aluminum intake manifold, and dual snorkel chrome plated air cleaner. Dual exhaust was standard.


Big-Block 396

Chevy's newest, largest V8, displacing 396 cubic-inches, was scheduled for release in full-size Chevys and Corvettes in 1965. It would also be offered in the Chevelle with the extra cost Super Sport package.

Option Code Z16

Since the motor started production late in the season, it was decided to make a very limited run of SS396 Chevelle's. The special equipment option code was RPO (regular production order) Z16, and became available mid-year.

Chevelle buyers who chose the Z16 option code received a two-door Malibu coupe body with a boxed convertible frame, with narrowed rear axle and brake assemblies from the Impala. A modified suspension included sway bars front and rear.

The Z16 396ci big-block was a hydraulic-lifter version of the L78 Corvette engine. Compression ratio was 11:1. Power output was purposely under-rated at 375-horsepower -- most enthusiasts agree it was nearer 450-hp.

1965 Chevelle SS396 Z16 engine

A Muncie M20 wide-ratio four-speed manual transmission was fitted to all Z16 Chevelles.

The Z16 package included SS emblems on the front fenders behind the wheel opening, and 396 Turbo-Jet insignias on front fenders ahead of the wheel opening. The rear tail panel had a unique black and chrome trim panel framing untrimmed Chevelle 300-style taillights (Malibu and Malibu SS models had bright metal lens trim).

Interior features included front bucket seats with floor console and shifter, 6,000-rpm tachometer, and 160-mph speedometer. Steering was power-assist, and virtually all other Chevelle comfort and convenience options were available.

Just 201 Z16 SS396 cars were produced in 1965, using style numbers 737 for the hardtop and 767 for the convertible.



As every other car manufacturer was doing in 1965, Chevy aimed it's advertising squarely at the 1960's era Baby Boomers. This 1965 Chevelle wagon advertisement proclaimed, "there's room for rubber rafts, beach balls,'s and toboggans, too."

1965 Chevelle Malibu wagon


1965 Chevelle Production Figures

1965 Chevelle Malibu at classic car show

Total Chevelle sales for 1965 was 344,100.

Chevelle History 1965


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