(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.
It’s always good to see those cars driven like they were made to be, but occasionally I find myself wishing I had the coin to restore one and put it away so that they don’t all disappear. This one is old enough that I find myself conflicted over it. I hope the guy doesn’t let this one go too much further or he might find that it’s not worth restoring anymore.
Maybe it’s my Midwest perspective but too far gone doesn’t happen to an old car unless rust eats it. Everything else can be refreshed/replaced without massive shop investment, but a rotted body is where beyond repair rears it’s head and this example is a-ok to keep driving as is for another half century as far as I’m concerned.
Two of these sitting in a yard in the main drag of my mom’s town. Haven’t been there for five years so don’t know if they are still there. They are just yard guards.
Agree with Airman. Wish I had time and money to do my 57 right now. It waits but at least there is now some protection.
One of the local “rich kids” had one of these but non-convertible.
It was an SS version with a 327, I believe but not real sure.
The guy saw me hitchhiking on the road out of town, sped up, swerved and barely missed me.
My jumping to the side may have prevented an actual impact.
My chance arrived a couple months later and I pummeled him severely.
He deserved it.
That’s what I got for being in a far lower socio-economic class than the spoiled punk idiot.
It was a cool car, though.
With the exception of their horridly crummy brakes, these were really good cars. The 327 4 bbl with dual exhaust was just such a winner of a powertrain, even with the Powerglide, was just dandy. Loads of torque and instant response. The suspension was the best out of Detroit at the time. Steering was much improved by moving the gear ahead of the wheels.
Converting these things to front disk brakes is actually really easy as the later kits bolt right on to the older hubs. Many that are daily drivers have been converted. I would never drive a car with front drum brakes as a daily driver.
Drum brakes aren’t all that bad when sized properly and in good condition. As an example, I drove a Corvair with the same brakes as the featured Chevelle; in a much lighter car, they worked quite well. Similarly, magazine reviews of Buicks in the late 1960s seem to praise their braking performance, despite having drums.
Now a single master cylinder? There’s something I hope to never experience again…
I am with you. If you drive in mountains pulling a trailer or through a lot of deep water or make repeated stops from high speed, drum brakes are not for you. But for the rest of us, a good set of drum brakes was perfectly serviceable. It seems that I have had more brake problems over the years with discs (primarily warped rotors and stuck calipers) than I ever had with drums.
I am also with you on the single master cylinder. I got really lucky that my only catastrophic hydraulic brake failure was in my 63 Cadillac – the only car at the time (actually the AMC Ambassador may have been another) with a dual master cylinder.
Also in 1966 not many folks had experienced disc brakes, but yea that would be a decent upgrade. Also fix those front seats! Your but will appreciate it.
If I recall, Canuck* lives in B.C. Anyone in the Pacific Northwest has the Cascade Range to consider in brake requirements.
Southern Germany can be mountainous too, partly explaining the nice fat discs you see on German cars.
Maybe that’s why American brakes were so bad for so long. Not like we have a ton of hills here in the Midwest. Grosse Pointe myopia.
My first car was a ’64 Malibu SS convertible, 283 2bbl with a powerglide, silver (mostly) exterior, black interior with a white top. Bought it in ’76 for $275, drove it like I stole it for 3 years and replaced it with a ’70 Chevelle. The SS sat for 2 years before I finally sold it for $600 without an engine. I intended to replace the 283 with a 350 but the ’70 was getting all of the attention.
I knew the day I sold it I was going to regret it. 31 years later I can still see it being hauled away, clear as day………………
My Dad regretted after the fact selling his 65 Chevy Impala 4 Door hardtop…….pale yellow with white roof….283 with 3 speed manual…..He traded it in on a new 73 Chevy Suburban which rusted to pieces in 6 years….Alot of memories in that 65.
I have this car’s corporate cousin, a ’65 Buick Skylark, in storage right now awaiting a full frame-off resto.
Any pics of the Cowl tag and VIN tag?
Anyone notice that they have the radiator mounted and THEN the radiator spacer?
It’s on backwards. should be radiator support, radiator spacer, radiator, then a fan shroud.
You may want to revisit picture and consider your statement. It appears there is AC condenser, core support, radiator, then fan shroud installed in that order.
He might revisit, but his post was from two and a half years ago, so probably not 🙂
Actually, a ’65 Chevelle Malibu SS came standard with a column shift 3-speed manual transmission as did all other Chevelles, big Chevrolets, Chevy IIs and most Chevrolet trucks. Or the optional 3-on-the-tree with overdrive for the 194 and 230 inch 6s and the 283 V8. Cars so equipped still had bucket seats, but no console between them – like a standard-equipment Mustang. The console only came on SS cars with either a 4-speed manual or Powerglide.
Just so ~
Before they were ‘collectable’ I had early Chevy II’s, mostly SS and my ’64 had the three on the tree, RPO 347, few ever belived me .
I also had a ’65 (?IIRC) four door Chevelle Sedan (post) with a 236 i6 and powerglide, a wonderful car I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep in and wrecked nearly dying in the process .
This rag top is nice ~ I’d not restore it .
It would have made more sense to call the Chevelle the ‘Chevy II’ since it was one step below the standard Chevy, but then the chosen name is iconic.
Laguna is the only other ‘beach’ name used for Chevelle trim lines, with Malibu. Imagine others like ‘Chevelle Huntington’ or ‘… Miami’?
Marketers evidently divined that full-sized customers were more into fashionable coastal towns, not beaches as such, e.g. Mercury Monterey & Chevy Biscayne.
For some reason, Koreans seem to like Southwest cities, like Sedona, Tucson, & Santa Fe. Pontiac did have the Phoenix, however. Yuma, a town populated largely by Marines & migrant farm workers, is likely in no danger of notice.
Chevrolet had the Scottsdale trim pickup. No one has named a car Why, however, and I haven’t seen Ajo show up as a car name.
Ironic, since Scottsdale is a high-income suburb not normally associated with pickups. Come to think of it, even Yuma would make more sense (e.g. farms, Border Patrol, & military GM pickups).☺
There’s a Tesla showroom at the Scottsdale Mall, last I checked.
My dad “borrowed” this car (Paul, from Marsden Chevrolet, right next to Towson Ford) for a July 4th parade in silver, with a 327/250, PW, PS,PB, tilt wheel, AM/FM radio and…manual top! Who cared? I had it for Friday and Saturday night, the weekend the Stones “Satisfaction” dropped. Cruising, drive in, it was ALL good. A hot, quick car, perfect mid 60’s top of the game GM.
A “Bewitched” car.
The 327 C.I. 350 H.P. engine (L79) was also available in the 1965 Chevelle/Malibu though I recall there were less than 200 units produced.
Also “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”. That engine may be advertised as a 327 but the casting mark on the driver side cylinder head, which is clearly visible in the photo, is that of a “power-pack” head that was used on the 283 and not the 327.
All indications are the L79 was one of the best versions of the SBC, particularly when installed in their cheapest car (’66-’67 Nova). It was powerful but tractable as a daily-driver, as well. It goes into the same category as the Chrysler 340 and Ford 351C as one of the top small-block V8s to ever come out of Detroit.
A friend of mine owned either a ’64 or ’65 Malibu convertible in the late 70’s. As I recall, it had a 6/Powerglide in it.
Although externally it looked very nice, another friend looked at it underneath and said it was a mass of rust
I love these cars, in my heart I usually favour Chryslers of the 60s & early 70s but I have to admit I think I would crawl over a Mopar to get to one of these.
There is something about a seperate frame and nice size V8 plus the fashionable for its time good looks that is very appealing, plus the solid GM constuction.
Also I think this is the correct sized car, not too big, not too small.
Respectfully disagree that the “straight-line grille with quad headlights” was ever generic & boring, to me it doesn’t get any better than this.
A car so dull, practical and BLAHHHHHH (in the six cylinder/PowerGlide 4 door version) that it was used by most of the insurance companies in their ads.
I wonder if that’s why it was chosen to hold a trunk full of aliens in the movie Repo Man.
Interesting take as it made a huge splash when it was released, almost the same affect as the ’55 Chevy when it was released .
Both had similar concepts ; not too flashy, similar wheel base, good comfort and well balanced looks from any direction, easy and comfy to drive and decent performance and economy right out of the box .
I look at it and think ” stellar design ” where you see blah ~ maybe the ’57 Forward Look appealed to you more ? .
Taste is *very* subjective but sales tell no lies .
We had a ’65 Malibu non-SS coupe with a 283 4bbl and duals with an air cleaner sticker reading 220 HP. It was a sweet engine, even with Powerglide, and I hooked a 14′ fiberglass runabout to it without a second thought. It never overheated even on long summer tows and sounded really good as it growled, pulling the boat and trailer out of the water on a steep ramp.
The mother of a friend had one of these, a ’64. Silver over black vinyl. A 327 with, I think, a Hydro-Matic (I drove the car a few times, and don’t recall having to shift as a Powerglide would require.) She kept the car up into the early ’80s – despite more than ample resources to buy another – and sold it to a collector. Last I heard, she had kept up with the new owner and her old car. She still remembers the car as the best car ever.