(first posted 9/3/2012) Once in a while, a generous collector takes their museum-quality classic out for a trip to the post office, and we get to see it curbside, being used like when it was new. More often, someone hangs onto a great car and just keeps driving it and enjoying it in its natural state. Its paint ages into patina, and it gets beat up around the edges. Eventually it’s their car of a lifetime, and they bring it out on nice days to share with friends and family. This Malibu Super Sport convertible from the sunny side of the sixties is just such a Curbside Classic. I saw this one last Sunday, and since today seems to be a mid-Sixties Chevy Sunday, I just had to take some time and bring it out.
Chevelle came out in 1964 to fill the gap between the big Chevy and compacts Corvair and Chevy II, and compete with Ford’s Fairlane which appeared in ’62. Malibu was the premium Chevelle just as Impala was the premium Chevy. Impala got the high-performance Super Sport option in ’61. 409 was real fine (CC here). Malibu two-door hardtops and convertibles could be ordered in SS form as well. The Malibu Super Sport model only lasted two years. It grew into its own Chevelle SS396 series in ’66 as the Muscle Car race took off.
Malibu SS got a blackout grille, bucket seats and console, SS steering wheel, wheel covers and badges. All Chevelle powertrain options were available except three-on-the-tree, so you could get an SS with a six and Powerglide. Small Block Chevy V8s for ’65 Chevelles were the 283 at 195 hp, the 250 hp 327 with four barrels, or the 300 hp 327 with a bigger four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts “for increased breathing” as the brochure put it. Twin pipes here say that’s what’s under this hood.
I didn’t get a peek but here’s what the 300 hp 327 looked like in a restored ’65 Malibu SS for sale on the web. It fits nicely in the Chevelle’s engine compartment, not too big and not too small.
Our SS is equipped with two-speed Powerglide, by then the most popular choice by far. SS trim included all four gauges and a clock on the dash, and color-keyed steering wheel. The push-button AM radio is still in this dash, but an AM-FM radio appears to have taken its place, at least temporarily.
Nice wide cruise-worthy back seat too. There’s nothing like a big American convertible on a summer day. I see this seat and remember long summer drives with ice cream cones from the dairy farm.
Our Super Sport’s grille has seen better days. Blackout paint faded pretty quickly, and the optional bumper guards don’t seem to have been quite big enough to defend it. Easily replaced, no worries. By 1965 the long journey of headlights into grilles was complete, the straight-line horizontal grille with quad headlights had arrived. It looked sleek for a little while, then got generic and boring. The wheel of style kept turning and headlights started making their ways back to the corners.
Definite patina here, this car is the real thing. Side trim was another SS distinction: ordinary Chevelles and Malibus had a chrome strip midway up, from the front wheel well straight back, while the Malibu SS had the chrome rocker panel and wheel well trim with clean, sleek flanks. These fine distinctions are made clear with some great photos on the ChevelleStuff ’65 SS web page.
I caught this ride just in time, a family piled out of the house and jumped in for an afternoon joyride. It belongs to a visiting brother-in-law, he’s had it since the early seventies. He’s going to get it fixed up one of these days, but for now it’s just a top down pleasure for him and the family. It sounded great as they cruised off into the summer sunshine.