1965 CHEVY IMPALA TOP-SELLING CAR IN U.S.
Full-sized cars ruled the marketplace back in the 50s and early 60s. Chevy’s Impala did battle with Ford’s Galaxy 500 and the Plymouth Fury for sales dominance, and in 1965 the Chevy Impala became the best-selling vehicle in America. It was the first model ever to break the 1-million-unit-mark in one production year, a record that has never been broken.
1965 CHEVY IMPALA REDESIGNED
The 4th-generation launched in the 1965 model year with a totally modern, sleek new body. Much cleaner and more devoid of chrome dressing. The old X-frame was replaced with a modern full-perimeter frame with coil spring-suspension on all 4 corners. The windshield angle was more laid down, and pillarless models got frameless windows. Not only was the exterior sheet metal all new, the interior was completely restyled.
1965 Chevrolet Impala INTERIORS
1965 CHEVROLET IMPALA INTERIORS WERE SHARP
Chevy really did it right with the 1965 Chevrolet Impala, especially to top-line SS models. The dash was full of glitz and glamour, the door panels were nicely-detailed with tuck-and-roll upholstery and plenty of brightwork, the center consoles looked like they were straight out of a fighter jet, even the carpets were nice. And that one center speaker in the top-center of the back seat with the Impala emblem in it was just plain bitchin’. These were not expensive cars at the time of their manufacture. In fact, their being the best-selling cars in America was by design. They were meant to appeal to, and be affordable for just about everyone, and as such they were not expensive cars. But they looked expensive. That was obviously a huge part of the Impala’s appeal.
BELOW: Nice seats with high-quality vinyl seats and nice chrome trim.
1965 Chevrolet Impala ENGINES
ABOVE: The 327 small block came in two flavors in the 1965 Chevrolet Impala, 250hp and 300hp.
1965 CHEVY IMPALA ENGINES
While a 6-cylinder was standard, most were ordered with small block V8s. The W-series 409 V8 was discontinued early in 1965, replaced by the new 396 big block. 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions were offered, and the only automatic continued to be the 2-speed Powerglide.
409 MARK I BIG BLOCK IS TOP ENGINE
As the 1965 model year kicked off, the biggest and most powerful engine you could get in the Impala was the 409, which was a W-series Mark I big block, similar to the 348. This would be the final year for the 409 and the Mark I big block in general, having launched in 1958. It was replaced late in the 1965 model year by the new Mark IV 396. However, at 375hp, the top new 396 couldn’t match the top 409’s output at 400hp. All Chevy big blocks up to modern times were based on the Mark I, or W-series big blocks, the 348 and 409. They were Chevy’s first foray into not just a bigger engine, but one that was much more advanced, and complex. These Mark I engines had staggered valves to aid breathing, at a time when most OHV engines had all their valves lined up, for production purposes. They also used a unique combustion chamber that was in the top of the cylinder bore, rather than in the head, and the head surface wasn’t square with the cylinder, it was angled. This unusual setup was abandoned in the Mark IV big blocks.
BELOW: 348s and 409s are easy to spot. They have these unusually-shaped valve covers that look like a flattened-out “M”, done to give room to the spark plugs, which enter the combustion chambers at a near-vertical angle.