1965 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396
This car has been sold. To find your dream car, try Colin's Car Finder.
Classic American Muscle Car
Z16 was the RPO (Regular Production Option) code given to the 396 engine option in the 1965 Chevelle and was used internally by Chevrolet. The Z16 is the 1965 Malibu SS 396 and was almost never referred to by the Z16 RPO number except in a few non-public Chevrolet documents.
But the Z16 was much more than just the big 396 in the Chevelle SS. It was a complete package with many special and heavy duty chassis components including: Heavy duty suspension, special heavy duty rear axle, 4 speed transmission, special frame, special heavy duty power brakes, and unique power steering components. The interior was very special too. A 160 mph speedometer was only available with the SS 396. Mandatory options included a tachometer, deluxe front and rear seat belts, AM/FM stereo radio, padded dash and remote mirror.
The 396 engine specified for the Z16 was the L37 375 horsepower version. The L37 was a heavy duty engine with forged crank and pistons, 4 bolt main bearing caps, large port heads, an aluminum intake manifold with a Holley carburetor and an hydraulic camshaft.
The new Z16 was promoted heavily by Chevrolet. Many automotive magazines road tested or reviewed the special Malibu in the late Spring and Summer of 1965. Not every dealer received a Z16 since it was very limited in production but they were spread out geographically around the country.
Total Malibu SS 396 production was 201 cars with one reportedly a convertible. It is not known to survive. About 65 Z16 coupes in restored or unrestored condition still exist making them one of the rarest and most desirable muscle cars.
Z16s all appear to have been built in or near February, March, and April 1965. The exception was two prototype, pre-production cars that were, of course, built earlier. All were assembled in Chevrolet's Kansas City plant with the exception of the two prototype cars.
This Z16 is simply extraordinary due to its originality, owner history and documentation. Prior to being delivered to the original selling Chevy dealer it was tested and photographed by Car Craft Magazine. This Z16 was supposed to be delivered to Van Chevrolet in Kansas City Missouri but was instead sent to Allen Dennis Chevrolet in Olathe Kansas as a favor to Allen Dennis who was dating the mother in law of the soon-to-be original owners 23 year old son. The 23 year old son (who is alive and well today) arranged for his father to take a test drive in the Z16. If the test drive didn't work out, the car was going back to Van Chevrolet where another buyer was waiting. The son recalls that when the family arrived for the test drive there was a crowd of customers around this Z16 trying to buy it.
The hopeful young man didn't think his father would buy the Z-16 due to his love of imported sports cars, but when his father hit third gear and the Z16 got sideways he looked up and saw him grinning from ear to ear. The father turned to his wife in the front seat and said "we are buying this car right now" and bought the car on July 14, 1965. The father kept the car until his death in 1976 putting on 71,926 miles.
During the time the original owner had the car the original engine and drivetrain were never out of the car and no modifications were ever done. In the early 1970s work was done to the right rear quarter to repair a small dent. The interior was untouched. After his father's death the son couldn't bring himself to sell the Z16, instead selling his fathers collection of Ferraris and rare sports cars. The original owners son stored the Z16 until 1996 when he put an ad in Hemmings Motor News to sell it. The first caller was Joe D., a noted collector of original survivor-type muscle cars. Mr. D immediately agreed to the price and the car went to Texas where it was made part of his prestigious survivor collection.
In 2003 Mr. D made a decision to restore the Z16. He had one of the country's premier Z16 experts and restorer Chris Daniels do the work to preserve the extreme originality of this untouched example. Chris has indicated he believes of the approximately 65 surviving Z16s this is one of only 6 with its original engine and drivetrain. Chris believes that you probably could not find a more original assembly line component complete Z16 than this one. During the restoration every single factory body panel was used and only a few interior pieces were replaced along with the exhaust.
A year or so after the restoration Joe D. sold the Z16 to a collector in California. Not long after that Joe D. getting a bad case of sellers remorse bought his Z16 back from the California collector. In 2008 the Z16 moved to another prestigious collection, and while the 2003 restoration was still exceptional, the Z's new owner wanted absolute perfection at any cost and commissioned an exhaustive, six-figure body-off restoration to Pebble Beach standards, including a complete drivetrain rebuild and post-restoration sorting in the CCA workshop. This is now a true 100-point Z16 that is also turn-key ready if its next caretaker wishes to go get it sideways in 3rd gear like the original owner did during that fateful test drive in 1965!
Of course, like any car brought to you by CCA, the history of this one is airtight. Besides being able to contact the original owner's son and every owner since by telephone today, it is also fully documented with its original Protect-O-Plate, original owners manual, original registration receipts, copy of its original build sheet, Z16 Registry certificate, numerous other documents and vintage pictures. In the world of rare muscle cars, few are as historically important as a Z16, and none are harder to find with this level of originality and documentation, let alone being the recipient of such a stunning and costly restoration. The Big Block Chevrolet legend started here!