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One of the most popular collectible cars produced

The Chevrolet Chevelle is one of the most popular collectible cars every produced. From 1964 to 1978, the three generations of mid-sized car was both attractive and powerful, with Chevelle offering the largest range of trim options from GM.

When the Chevelle first came to concept, it was designed to be similar in size and style to the 1955-1957 models, with the same 115 inch wheelbase. The competition at the time was the Ford Fairlane and the Plymouth Belvedere. The goal was for the Chevelle to be choice in the gap between the Chevy II Nova and the Impala. It had the same A-body platform, as seen on the Buick Skylark, Oldmobile Cutlass and Pontiac Tempest. Chevrolet offered two-door hardtop coups called Sport coupes. The four-door hardtops were called Sport Sedans and were in production in 1966 to 1972. The two-door station wagon was available in 1964 and 1965. Wagons had exclusive style nameplates such as Greenbrier, Concours and the Concours Estate. The engine for all of the vehicles was a 6-cylinder and V8 power.

The Chevelle Super Sport or SS was introduced during these years. A Chevelle with a Z16 option was available for $1,501. It had the emblem on the front fender and in-house style numbers of 767 for the convertible and 737 for the hard top. If you wanted to upgrade , $162.00 would give you the optional Super Sport package on the more upscale Malibu two-door hardtop and convertibles. This package included the SS emblem, 14-inch full disc wheel covers from the Impala SS. The was amazing. Vinyl bucket-seats, a floor console for those who opted for the Muncie aluminum 4-speed manual or Powerglide 2-speed automatic . The standard was the 3-speed manual. The Malubu SS had an optional dash tachometer and 4-gauge cluster.

In about the middle of 1964, car buyers could order a Chevelle with a 327 cu V8, with either 250 hp or 300 hp. They both had a 4-barell carburetor. In 1965 Chevelle upped the game even further with an 350 hp 327 V8 as an RPO L79. This first year Chevy built 294,160 vehicles, including 76,860 SS models.

In 1965 there were more changes to come. The Malibu SS badge was gone, but still available for those sold in Canada. Between March and April , 1965, Chevelle produced the limited 201 Malibu SS396 “Z-16” big-block equipped cars. To this day about 75 of those cars are still in existence.

In 1966, the Chevelle SS396 became its own series, with style numbers 13817 and 13867. The Malibu sport coupe and convertible bodies were used for the SS396 sport coupes and convertibles. The front end was revised with hither-rate springs, thicker front stabilizer bar, and recalibrated shocks. In addition two simulated hood scoops, red-stripe tires and new trim moldings were added. As for the engine, there was the 396 CID V8, rated at 325 hp, an optional 360 hp, and an optional 375 hp. The SS396 was relegated to an option package in 1969.

Chevelles got a new look in 1966. Smoother, slicker contours, new grille and bumpers and cool curved side windows were introduced, as well as a flying buttress roofline on the hardtops. This was the year of the “Coke bottle” body shape sweeping the car industry in the ‘60s. Also introduced this year was the 4-door hardtop Sports Sedan addition to the Malibu series. The engines available this year were the 327 cu V8, or the 283 cu V8 with 220hp. Options included mag-style wheel covers, sintered-metallic brakes, four-way power seats, tissue dispenser, tachometer and cruise control.

“What you see inside will probably bring on a severe compulsion to go driving.” – seen in a 1967 Chevelle sales brochure.

1967 saw a longer, straighter design introduction, with a new rear end with wraparound tail lamps and standard backup lights. All models had front disc brakes, along with a warning light incorporated into the new dual master cylinder brake system, and a 3-speed automatic transmission. No longer available as an option was the 375 hp 396 cu V8. When it was offered again late in the year only 612 were sold. Options included Strato-ease headrests, Superlift air shock absorbers, and new instrumentation.

fun facts:

Only 200 1965 Z16 Chevelles were built at the Kansas City plant.

Chevelles were also available made and sold in Canada. In Canada, however, a convertible was available in the base Chevelle series, and not available in the United States. The Beaumont was a re-trimmed model available in Canada by Pontiac dealers in 1969. The Canadian Malibu SS got its SS name from the Sports Option package under RPO A51. It was primarily a trim option and came with bucket seats, center console, standard full wheel covers and ribbed rocker panel moldings.

The ’68 Chevelle got a brand new look

1968 marked the beginning of the second generation of Chevelle. The ’68 Chevelle got a brand new look with a distinct body collectors to this day admire. The front fenders were tapered, the beltline was rounded, and the overall long-hood and short-deck profile combined with new higher rear-quarter kick-up and 112-inch wheelbase made the Chevelle new style turn heads. The hardtop coupes had a semi-fastback and flowing roofline. Top-trim models, such as the Concours and the SS 396, had the new hide-a-way wiper system, which was only adopted by other Chevelles later on.

This was the year the Super Sport (El Camino pickup, SS396 sport coupe, and convertible) was named as its own series. It was also the only year the El Camino body style would get its own SS396 series designation (13880). F70x14 red-stripe tires and a standard 325 hp 396 cu Turbo-Jet V8 engine were in the Super Sports, which had the iconic twin-domed hood. Chevelle owners who wanted more power could opt for a more expensive optional 350 hp or 375 hp 396 engine. The starting price for a SS 396 sports coupe? About $2,899.00.

In spring of 1968 three Concours options (ZK5, ZK6, ZK7) became available for the 4-door sedan: special sound insulation, all-vinyl color-keyed interior, and a deep padded instrument panel with simulated woodgrain trim. The 2-door pillar body style was no longer called the sedan. Instead it was called a coupe or pillar coupe. The 2-door hardtop was still called a sports coupe.

In 1968 new federal safety equipment regulations were put into place, which included side marker lights and shoulder belts for outboard front seat passengers on all cars built after December 1, 1967.

1969 showed few design changes, other than new front-end styling and a single chrome bar that connected the quad headlights. The front grille was made of ABS plastic and the parking lights were in a slotted bumper.

The Chevelles were now the Nomad, 300 Deluxe/Greenbrier, Malibu/Concours and the Concours Estate series. The SS 396 was no longer a series of its own. Now it was a simple option package any 2-doro model could have, including the convertible, sports coupe, pickup and even the pillared coupe and sports coup in the 300 Deluxe series (except the 300 Deluxe El Camino). The Super Sport option of the time included a 325 hp 396 cu V8, black-out grille with the SS emblem and black rear panel. Chevelle upped the power game with the addition of a 396 option engine with option of 350 hp or 275 hp.

Chevelle station wagons available at the time were the Concours, Nomad and Green brier. There was a dual-action tailgate that opened as a panel-type door or the old way. These wagons were 208” overall compared to 197” for the coupes. Options for the Chevelles this year included headlight washers, rear defroster and power locks and power windows. All 1969 Chevelles had new locking steering columns, far in advance of the announcement of Federal requirements.

1970 – The dawn of the muscle car era.

In 1970 the coke bottle styling was popular. Chevelle bodies had a more square stance. In fact, the 1970 Chevelle and the 1970 Buick Skylark GSX share a lot of the same interchangeable sheet metal body parts. When comparing muscle cars of the day, these are the only two to share the same roofline. The 1970 SS 396 Chevelle was a beautiful car, no doubt about it. This car had a power dome hood, black-accented grille, wide oval tires on sports wheels and a 350 hp Turbo-Jet 396 V8 and special suspension. The LS5 454 cu V8 with 360 hp as standard model and with a cowel induction were both available. Some say that the LS6 was under-rated, and that it may have actually been able to produce close to 500 hp. The taillights of the 1970 Chevelle were in the rear bumper. This was actually the result of federal mandated bumper design. The Chevelle also introduced the twin racing stripes on the hood and trunk lid.

The 1970 Chevelle came in a sports sedan, sport coupe, convertible, 4-door sedan, wagons, and the El Camino coupe utility body styles. The El Camino, Malibu convertible and Malibu sport coup came with a choice of one of two SS options; the ROP Z15 with 454 cid engine and the SS 396 402 cid engine with RPO Z15. In Canada the base series was known as the 300 Deluxe but in the United States it was simply known as the Chevelle.

Options included power locks and stalk-mounted wiper control and engines available were a pair of 350 V8s, a pair of 402 engines, or the standard 155 hp 6-cylinder and 200 hp 307 cu V8. To this day, 137 LS6 Chevelles, of the 4, 475 produced, are registered in the National Chevelle LS6 registry.

1971 brought a new front-end and rear-end design to the Chevelle. Power-Beam single unit headlights, new grille and bumper, round tail lights and integral park/signal/market lights. The Heavy Chevy (RPO YF3), based on the base Chevelle, was introduced. It was available with a V8 except for the 454. The SS option was dropped to one RPO code (RPO Z15) and only available with the Chevelle Malibu. The 307 V8 could not be ordered with the SS option. Instead you had to order the LS3 402 or the LS5 454. The LS6 was only available in the 1971 Corvette.

During this year, GM announced that all engines had to run on lower-octane regular, low-lead or unleaded gasoline. The engines now featured low compression ratios, and horsepower ratings on big-block engines to 300 for the 402 cu V8. The LS6 454 option was dropped. 350 V8 engines and the 402 cid V8 engine were available without the SS option. The LS5 454 V8, however, required the SS option.

In 1972 the Chevelle wagons were 10” shorter than full-sized wagons and weighed less, but the sales were poor. Total sales for the year were 54,355 station wagons, 49,352 Chevelles and 290,008 Malibus.

The 1972 Chevelle once again had a revised grille, with twin-bars, as well as single-unit parking/side marker lights on the front fenders. The Chevelle SS was available with any V8, including the 200 hp 307. The entire 1972 Chevelle series was considered as America’s second-best selling car. There was a four-model wagon series in the base versions, while upscale versions were Malibus and convertibles. The Malibu Sport Coupe was the top seller, starting at $2,923. The Chevelles in California could not get a 307 V8, but instead had a 350 cu instead. 1972 was the last year for the cowl induction option for the 454 cid engine.

fun facts:

In 1968 Chevrolet produced 60,499 SS396 sport coupes, 2,286 convertibles and 5,190 El Caminos.

In 1968 SS427 Chevelles were sold on Indian Reservation territory to bypass the GM rules that stopped cars from having more than 1hp per 10lbs of weight. The only exception was the Corvette.

In 1968 the Chevelle was billed as “America’s most popular mid-size car”

In 1969 a police package (RPO B07) was available on the Chevelle 300 Deluxe 4-door sedan. The 396 powered Chevelle 300 Deluxe, with the B07 police car package option, is the most sought after Chevelle since the 1965 Z16 option.

The 1970 Chevelle is seen in the “Fast and the Furious”, driven by Vin Diesel.

The 1970 LS6 is popularly recognized as the ultimate muscle car.

A new look and a new focus

A new look and a new focus was brought in with the generation of Chevelle. In 1973 Chevelle had its most complete design overhaul ever. Gone was the convertible and 4-door hardtop model. The 2-door hardtop was replaced with the Colonnde Hardtop, and the featured frameless door glass, fixed styled “B” pillars which were promoted as being so strong they increased passenger safety in case of a roll-over. The rear windows on coupes no longer opened. The thin windshield pillars now meant visibility was increased by 35% in the sedans and 25% in the coupes and wagons. In addition, tighter-fitting glass, flush outside door handles, and an acoustical double-panel roof were also added to the designs. Both front and rear ends looked different. It was federally mandated that cars have a 5mph front bumper, which made the car longer. Inside there were molded foam front and rear seats, inside hood release, a 22 gallon fuel tank. Options included swivel bucket seats with console for the coupes, instrument gauge cluster, and power moonroof. Headroom and rear seat legroom were increased. Luggage capacity was increased by 2.5 feet compared to the 1972 models. There was more clearance for spring travel, resulting in a smoother more comfortable ride. Front disc brakes were now standard in all Chevelles.

As mentioned earlier, the Malibu and the new Deluxe series base models all had the new 5mph bumper system, which featured large chrome front and back bumpers. The Malibu series had cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl seat trim and deep twist carpeting, while the Deluxe series interior had the cloth-and-vinyl or knit vinyl seat trim and a vinyl-coated rubber floor covering. The SS was now a trim option for the mid-level Malibu and there was even an SS station wagon available. The SS package included the black grille with SS emblem, roof drip moldinds, lower bodyside and wheel opening striping, color-keyed sports mirrors, black taillight bezels, SS fender and rear panel emblems, 14”x7” rally wheels, 70-series raised white letter tires, front and rear end stabilizer, special instrumentation and SS interior emblems. This option needed a 350 or 454 V8 with 4-speed or Turbo Hydra-matic transmission.

The top Chevelle series was now called Laguna. The Malibu was the mid-series and the base series was known as the Deluxe. The Laguna series had new front and rear style, including the new urethane front end that matched the body and hid the new 5mph bumper system. There was also a diecast chrome girlle with bowtie emblem, a rear body bumper that matched the body, front and rear body bumper rub strips, bright wheel opening molding, roof drip moldings, chrome taillight bezels, full wheel covers and Laguna fender nameplates.

In 1973 there were 327,631 Chevelles sold along with 59,108 station wagons and 56,036 Laguna coupes and sedans. There were 28,647 SS options on Chevelles. Unfortunately, the SS option was dropped at the end of 1973.

In 1974 Chevelle introduced new taillights, new 5mph rear bumpers, and new grilles. The Laguna Type S-3 came out as a coupe. It was said to combine the luxury of the Laguna with the road handling of the SS. It had new GR70-15 radial-ply tires, a urethane front end with a new grill and new parking lamps and new taillights. The front seats were swivel bucket seats.

The top-line series was now the Malibu Classic series for 1974. It was available in sedan, coupe and station wagon. The Malibu Classic had smaller vertical rear quarter opera window s and a spring-loaded hood ornament. While early 1974 coupes had a vinyl roof option, later coupes that year were available with a standard painted roof with a smaller opera window. The inside of the Malibu Classic was pure luxury. Notchback bench seats came upholstered in either vinyl or cloth, the door panels were carpeted and the instrument panel was in a stylish woodgrain trim. Options included swivel bucket seats with console in cloth or vinyl. Since the Deluxe series was dropped, the Malibu was now the base model, with engines available being the 250 cu 6 and the 350 cu V8.

In 1975 the Colonnade designation was dropped. The body style was unchanged, though there was a vertical grid-patterned grille and new trim around the headlights. New rectangular taillights were flush against the body, connected by a chrome panel. Landau coupes had a vinyl roof, full wheel covers, whitewall tires, color-keyed body striping and dual sport mirrors. Chevy introduced the new Chevrolet Efficiency System, which featured the High-Energy Ignition (HEI). Drivers saw an increase in power. Still, 1975 was the final year for the big-block Chevelles. The 454ci V8 produced only 235 hp.

In 1975 the Colonnade designation was dropped. The body style was unchanged, though there was a vertical grid-patterned grille and new trim around the headlights. New rectangular taillights were flush against the body, connected by a chrome panel. Landau coupes had a vinyl roof, full wheel covers, whitewall tires, color-keyed body striping and dual sport mirrors. Chevy introduced the new Chevrolet Efficiency System, which featured the High-Energy Ignition (HEI). Drivers saw an increase in power. Still, 1975 was the final year for the big-block Chevelles. The 454ci V8 produced only 235 hp.

The Laguna Type S-3 returned in January 1975 with a new slanted, urethane-covered nose that was designed for NASCAR, louvered opera windows and an optional vinyl half-roof. Options included an econominder gauge.

In 1976 the Malibu Classic introduced its square headlights, a crosshatch grill and stacked quad headlights. There were 3 V8s available, including a 305 cu 104hp, a 350 cu 165hp, and a 400 cu 175hp. The Lagunas shared the round gauge instrument panel with the Chevy Monte Carlo. Some options included a four-spoke sport steering wheel and swivel bucket seats and center console. The base price of a Laguna was $4,621 and 9,100 cars were produced.

1977 saw the Estate Wagon and Laguna Type S-3 disappear. The new lineup of Malibu and Malibu Classic models were in coupe, sedan and station wagon body styles. The Classic changed the front grille to a vertical grill pattern and now had six-section taillights. The twin stacked headlights and hood ornament stayed the same. The Chevelles had a 250 cu 6-cylinder, or a 305 cu V8 145hp. There was an optional 4-barrel 350 cu V8 with 170hp, which was standard in the Malibu Classic station wagon. Inside the instrument panel had a woodgrain accent, and there was a color-keyed steering wheel and cloth/vinyl split-bench front seat. Options available were tinted glass, full wheel covers, and an exterior décor grouping.

In 1977 73,739 Malibu Classic coups, 28,793 Malibu coupes, and 37,215 Malibu Classic Landau coupes were produced.

fun facts:

Safety- the 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle at the time of production, was one of the safety cars ever made.

Rarity – 1973 Chevelle wagon was the only year that a SS wagon was offered in a Chevelle.

In 1968 the Chevelle was billed as “America’s most popular mid-size car”

Expense – 1973 Motion Chevelle Phase III SS427 sold for $12,030.00, the equivalent of $65,000.00 today.

Racing - The third generation Chevelle dominated NASCAR competition from 1973 to 1977.

The Chevelle becomes a Malibu

The fourth generation of Chevy Malibu came out in 1978, when consumers demanded cars with better fuel economy and smaller car bodies. In 1978 the Malibu name was applied to the entire midsize range. This was primarily because the Malibu name was more recognized than Chevelle. The body was 12 inches shorter and between 500 to 1000lbs lighter, and rode on 108-inch wheel bases. On the plus side, the trunk space was bigger, and there was more head and leg room for passengers. The Malibu and Malibu Classic trims were both available. The Malibu Classic Landau series had a vinyl top and a two-tone paint job on both the upper and lower body.

This was the year the Chevrolet 90 V6 engines were introduced, with 200 cid V6 as the base engine in the new ’78 Malibus. The 231 cid V6 and the 305 cid V8 were options. 1978 was the end of the rear-end drive era. Chevrolet produced the station wagon, sedan and coupe body styles which also happened to be the basis for the El Camino pick-up truck. The rear windows on the 4-door sedans were fixed.

Sales of the Malibu were good, with 358,636 produced, with 102,967 classic 4-door sedans.

In 1980 the SS was only available in the El Camino and no longer was available in the Malibu. While there was a Malibu M80 in 1980, it was extremely rare and was a dealer package only available in North and South Carolina. It was created to try to boost the popularity of muscle cars, but it’s main goal was to attract NASCAR fans. Some estimates are that about 1900 of the M80s were produced. They were all white with dark blue bucket seats and center console. The base was a 2-door sport coup with an F41 Sport Suspension package and a V8 with 140hp. The option was two dark blue skunk stripes on top and a lower door stripe along with the M80 identification, as well as front and rear spoilers and 1981 steel rally wheels which were on the 1980 Monte Carlo.

In 1981 the sedans switched to a four-window profile and a formal pillared upright roofline. The Monte Carlo moved up into the market position formerly held by the 2-door coupe.

In 1982 the Malibu improved their look with a squared front styling and quad headlights that had long turn signals under them. If you compare the Chevrolet Caprice and the Malibu you will see they shared a very similar look this year.

1983 saw the introduction of the new Malibu badge on the front fender. Gone was the script-styled badge from the rear quarter panel. Unfortunately, the Malibu was discontinued in 1983. Fourteen years later, in 1997, Chevy would produce the fifth generation of Malibu with a complete redesign of both body and style.

fun facts:

Malibu enthusiasts will recall that the 4-door Malibu was often seen used for law enforcement vehicles. When the Chevy Nova ended production in 1979, the mid-size 9C1 police option was moved over to the Malibu. The 9C1 equipped Malibu had an LT-1 Z-28 Camaro engine placed 13th out of 47 places in the ’79 Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash – aka The Cannonball Run.

The Malibu body was used in NASCAR from 1973-1983. The Laguna S-3 variant was extremely popular during racing seasons from 1975-1977. In fact, Cale Yarborough won 20 races and the NASCAR championship in that time. Unfortunately, after 1977 the Malibu wasn’t able to compete anymore because it was considered a limited edition model.