History of the 1964-1967 Chevrolet Chevelle
Chevrolet’s Chevelle, based on General Motors' new mid-sized A-body platform with its 115-inch wheelbase, debuted to rave reviews in August 1963. Within three months, the latest in Chevy's five model lines represented its second-best seller. Along with the reborn El Camino (marketed as a truck), the Chevelle family included the yeoman “300” series (available in two- and four-door sedan and two- and four-door station wagon forms) and the upscale Malibu, offered as a four-door sedan, two-door sport coupe or convertible, and two- or four-door station wagon. Both the 300 and Malibu series featured six-cylinder and V-8 lines.
The cream of the crop was the snazzy Super Sport, based on either a Malibu coupe or convertible. Any Chevelle engine, six- or eight-holer, was available for a 1964-65 SS. Then along came the first of Chevy's legendary SS 396 Malibus in February 1965. Only 201 of these were built, including one clandestine convertible. All were powered by 375-horsepower 396-cid big-block V-8s.
A modernized Chevelle body appeared for 1966 with hints of the trendy “Coke-bottle” shape that would emerge in full-force two years later. The coupe's “tunneled” rear glass was truly fresh, a styling trick that also blossomed in the Corvette ranks in 1968. The 300, Malibu and El Camino pecking order rolled over, as did most mechanicals, but the two-door station wagon variant did not return. Six-cylinder and V-8 lines also remained in place, with the latter again consisting of either 283- or 327-cid small-blocks.
The garden-variety Chevelle SS fitted with either six-cylinder or small-block power didn't return either, but that wasn't bad news. Beginning in 1966, it was big-block or no block for Super Sport lovers as the SS 396 Chevelle went from limited-edition showboat to mass-market muscle car. Cutting back in standard frills lowered the SS 396's price by roughly $1,500, surging production to more than 72,000. Optional front disc brakes and familiar Rally wheels appeared in 1967.