The new Chevelle was available once again in Sport Coupe (pillarless 2-door hardtop) and Convertible body styles which were actuallly 2.7 inches longer and about an inch lower than the ’64 Chevelle. There were also numerous chassis refinements, most minor. The Super Sport or SS models changed the most, now with blacked-out grille (1965 Chevelle SS-only), revised mouldings, with more and bigger SS badges.
378,618 Chevelles were built during the 1965 model year. Out of those, 88,112 were Super Sport or SS models, of which 71,984 were Sport Coupes and 9,128 were Convertibles.
Less the modern-day add-ons (steering wheel, steering column-mounted tach, 3-gauge cluster & those hideous floor mats) this shows nicely the openness and simplicity of the Chevelle’s interior. Even the ones with center consoles don’t feel crowded like modern cars. Come to think of it, the absence of a center console could be a sign that this car didn’t start out life as an authentic SS.
1965 CHEVY CHEVELLE GETS THE L79
The Muscle Car Wars were raging and horsepower output was rising fast. The 1964 Chevelle SS was initially launched with a 220hp 283, which was bumped midyear up to either a 250hp or a 300hp 327. For 1965 more power was needed. They robbed the Corvette’s parts bin for the edgy 350hp 327 V8 (RPO L79). This peaky engine, in the light midsized A-body was nearly unbeatable by anything but a big block.
1965 CHEVY CHEVELLE GETS A BIG BLOCK
But the big news on the engine front is the rare Z16 option package, which dropped in the new 375hp 396 big block V8. Just 201 were built, 200 sport coupes and 1 convertible. The new 396 was the result of Chevy’s ”Mystery Motor” program, at at time when Ford was developing its 427 Side-Oiler, and Chrysler the 426 Hemi. Early prototypes of Chevy’s 7-liter Mystery Motor were being spotted around in race cars of various types, when it acquired the nickname “porcupine head” because of the offset intake and exhaust valves. By the time of its release as a production engine, the displacement had been reduced from 427 to 396 cubic inches. The 427 would return in 1967, but not in the Chevelle.