Long Lost Z16!? 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS 396!!!

By the mid-1960s, American car culture included the popular sport of drag racing. Even drivers who never planned to launch their cars down the 1320 dreamed about it, fueling a lively aftermarket of go-fast parts. Car companies knew that winning on the sticky strips translated into sales. Limited-production models pushed the “stock” envelope, and one such package was Chevy’s Z16 Chevelle. Only 201 Z16 Chevelles escaped the factory across model years 1964 and 1965. This oddly-presented 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS 396 Z16 in Stevensville, MD seeks a new owner here on Facebook Marketplace. Offered at $125,000, this Chevy’s owner claims it was purchased new by successful drag racer Malcolm Durham, who built an altered wheelbase Z16 called Strip Blazer III. Could this be that lost race car? Thanks to reader Patrick D. for this awesome tip.

Personally, I like to snap some decent pictures and bundle my listing with documentation when selling an ultra-rare muscle car for more than six figures, but I could be odd in this respect. Check out this video of the Strip Blazer III.

A video of what looks like the same car shows the gauge cluster removed, but this listing does show a 160 MPH speedometer as fitted to Z16 cars. It also appears to have the boxed convertible frame used on the Z16 cars to help keep them from twisting under the torque of the wicked and likely-to-be-modified 396 cid (6.5L) V8. With 375 HP on tap, the lightweight Chevelle became a street or strip terror.

The Strip Blazer III is listed in the Wes Eisenschenk book “Lost Muscle Cars,” and its whereabouts are indeed unknown, at least to the Durham family. The last story they heard was that someone had returned it to street use but still with the altered wheelbase. Nothing in these pictures suggests an AWB car, though it may well be a true Z16. Either way, if validated, it’s an amazing find. Do you think this is a real tire-smoking Z16 or simply a bunch of smoke?

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Comments

  1. TJohnson

    The major problem I see is with the air conditioning vent above the radio. No Z16, (or any other solid lifter cars from Chevrolet of this era), were ever available with air conditioning. The AC compressor could not keep up with the high winding of the engines

    37
    • Scott Williams

      There’s a lot of fishiness to this one. Wrong color, says it’s a automatic, and photos seem to be carefully chosen to only show a few Z16 details- but no engine bay shots.

      27
      • Johnny

        Looks like plain old Malibu side molding trim holes in the door and fender. The SS and Z16 bodies didn’t have side moldings. Just sayin’

        20
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member
      • exartist

        Not knowing a thing about what makes a Malibu a Z16, the photos set off a huge red flag for me. They seem to be strategically uninformative – – just a large enough sample to make you hungry.

        8
    • Roy Blankenship

      The Z16’s had a hydraulic cam. Still, I do not believe any of them came with factory air.

      2
    • JoeNYWF64

      I wonder if a Vintage Air brand compressor today CAN.

      • r s

        I think putting a smaller pulley on it to underdrive it would solve the problem, whether from the factory or aftermarket AC.

    • Adam Christopher Jones

      I have known about this car and the owner personally for 30 years ,this was Malcolm Durhams street car he got it painted blue to match his drag car and got the A.C. added as well ,when my friend bought it was being used as a work car for a house painter ,unsure of why the automatic swap but it was Regal red no vinyl too and very likely that Malcolm added the Malibu side mouldings,I realize this doesn’t authenticate the car I just wanted to share the info and I would be glad to own it

      4
      • JC

        Ditto.
        The ebay listing has specific information about the car offered.
        People with the financial means to buy this car would make it a point to get in touch with the fellow who listed it. (I do, and I did.)

  2. Scott Williams

    Better be a lot of documentation with this one – and it better have the original engine. IIRC, the Z16 motor was somewhat unique to these 201 cars.
    Oh and these were for the model year 1965 only – Chevy didn’t offer a 396 in anything in 1964.

    23
  3. Dan

    I bought one out of a barn in 1985 for $3500….convertible frame, 11 inch drum brakes, 160 speedo….only made in yellow, black and red….sold mine in 1990 for $55,000, been sick every since. One sold at Barrett-Jackson last year for $250,000….just sick…My yellow car sold new at a local hi-perf dealer….got some few pics I can post. Engine code was IX…

    31
    • Slickb

      Please do post them!!!! I want to and am sure many others wanna see it

      56
      • Dan

        Well I am not a member, so guess I can’t post them….ggrrrr…find me on Facebook and there is a car folder…..Dan Robinette…

        7
      • Brian Weyeneth

        A good friend has a red Z16 in his toy box. It’s stunning, no other way to put it. Then again, so is his GT40.

        This derelict is totally suspected of being a dud dressed to look like a big winner. Pass.

    • Fred W

      You didn’t do so bad Dan- $55,000 in todays dollars is $105,000.

      2
    • Kevin Kendall

      Yes it’s owned by a guy in Acworth,Ga.

    • Chris Daniels

      Hi Dan
      I remember when you found that car. Very complete and original.
      Chris D. California

  4. Rich Romanowski

    I owned a Regal Red Z16 until 1981 and was dumb enough to sell it to help my ex wife finance a small business venture. Business failed as did the marriage. Should have dumped her not the car. I have a lot of knowledge on these and I’d love to see some pics with those rear moldings removed to see if any of the 3 available colors show up. Those moldings were valued at well over $ 1,000 as s set used back in 1980 as was the die cast cross flag air cleaner emblem exclusive to these Z16s. I once met a guy here in Chicago that had a GM released parts booklet for the Z16 and though I never saw however I can believe it existed as he was a parts manager of a huge GM parts warehouse. Mine is part of the Z16 registry but I still think of it often. Used to make me mad, now I just laugh.

    15
    • Dan

      Mine is in the registry…they think it was the last one made…..Arrr…..

      4
  5. Hans

    A Z16 expert would have to inspect it to verify. Note that in 1965, the Z16 396 rated at 375HP came with hydraulic lifters but no automatic was available, 4 speed manual was required…

    From the chevelles.com site, here’s are the mandatory options and options available: https://www.chevellestuff.net/1965/chevelle/gallery/gallery_z16.htm

    The RPO Z16 Chevelle was only produced in Tuxedo Black, Regal Red, and Crocus Yellow.
    Black vinyl tops were offered and only Black, Red, or White interior colors were available.

    Mandatory Options Included:
    RPO A47 ~ Rear seat belts
    RPO A49 ~ Custom deluxe front seat belts w/retractors
    RPO B70 ~ Instrument panel pad
    RPO U50 ~ Vacuum power brakes
    RPO L37 ~ Turbo-Jet 396, 375 HP engine
    RPO M20 ~ 4-speed transmission, 2.56:1 low gear
    RPO N40 ~ Hydraulic steering
    RPO U16 ~ Tachometer
    RPO U69/U79 ~ Stereo adapter with AM/FM radio
    RPO Z13 ~ Remote control outside mirror

    Other options available but not mandatory include:
    RPO A01 ~ Tinted windows (all)
    RPO A02 ~ Tinted windshield
    RPO A31 ~ Electric windows
    RPO C08 ~ Vinyl top
    RPO N34 ~ Wood grained plastic steering wheel

    37
    • Midwest Jeff

      When I saw this listing earlier this afternoon, my initial thought was Bah, Humbug! But I didn’t not know anything about this performance package to make an informed comment.

      So, by reading the various posts, this Chevelle has a wrong color, wrong transmission, and wrong option (air conditioning).

      Now I can post Bah, Humbug!

      21
    • P.T.Cheshire

      AM / FM Stereo and Power Windows were standard on all 201

      1
    • Carl

      I thought the Z16 was rated at 425 hp. That is what the original Holley 3310 came on. Also was a solid lifter cam. I’ll have to go back into my old GM parts books and look for that one.

      • Troy s

        425 horse in the Corvette, which had solid lifter cam, I believe an open air cleaner and free breathing exhaust manifolds….same engine carried a 375 horse rating, at least in the mid sized Chevelle in ’65, which used hydraulic lifters and more restrictive exhaust manifolds, not sure about the air cleaner if it was open or dual snorkel.
        The Z11 Impala of ’63 had the mystery 427 with w shaped valve covers and carried a 425 horsepower rating…maybe you were thinking of the Z11.

  6. Billy

    How do you un modify the wheelbase and put the factory stuff back under the front?
    Thats a lot of work. Then get new quarters and fenders, don’t know about this one. look at the crossmember, looks like a stock one, If I was building an altered wheelbase race car, I am sure that would of gone bye bye and a custom one installed. The paint shows obvious spots of red probably the original color, painted over with a mop in the blue you see today. If it is a z16 car, which it might very well be! I don’t think it was the altered one.
    Chilly wind hole above the radio is odd too.
    Judging from the quality of his tow machine and the other fine products laying in the yard I would be very skeptical to hand over 125 large.

    2
    • JC

      No one claims this is the altered wheelbase car. This is a car documented as being sold new to Mr. Durham by Hicks Chevrolet, one of his sponsors.
      The ebay listing has specific information about the car offered.

  7. J_Paul Member

    While keeping in mind that the photo is at an angle, it seems like the removed door molding line is underneath the Malibu SS emblem, and the emblem itself should have been more centered between the wheel and door.

    So…this car had side trim at some point—which, as another commenter pointed out, was not part of this package—and then the emblem was popped on there, in the wrong space, after the trim was removed…hmm.

    10
  8. Del

    More verification on this one definitely required.

    To many things wrong

    12
  9. BlondeUXB Member

    Apparently GM made more than 201 sets of emblems…

    12
  10. doug

    I’m calling BS on this one. Where is the picture of the trim tag? Dan Blocker had a yellow one when it was new.

    11
    • Del

      Wonder if Blockers car is still around ?

      2
  11. Danko

    If we could see a side view the wheel base would tell the tale

  12. Brian McHale

    Who ordered AM/FM & Z16?

    3
    • Hans

      The Z16 was marketed to promote the brand new 396 engine. As part of the campaign, it was sold/loaned/given to celebrities and other high-visible entities. So GM loaded these up for maximum visibility. Very few were sold by dealers to the average consumer.

      4
    • Scott Williams

      I believe all 201 cars had the AM-FM. Was standard.

      6
  13. Al

    Missed a ’67 Chevelle SS in ’99 friend had decades, tried to sell me for $900 needing full restore. I passed as was moving from CT to ID 8 mos later & I already had a ’70 vette conv I was going to restore but sold prior to the move. I liked them, but was always a ’70 SS 454 admirer. If I went old in that square body style, I’d prefer a ’66 GTO. Another friend called a cpl yrs later in ’02 to tell me he bought it, again, for $900. Then says it had a 427 in it, M-22. I thought it was a 396 but never looked under the hood. I didn’t even notice the fender emblem as I just looked down from the porch at it on the side of his house & wasn’t picturing another project. So then he tells me Ed brings him the title & it says ‘Baldwin Motion Performance’ on it. I was SICK!! Nauseously SICK. I never even thought to ask to look at the title. Lesson learned. Long story short, he threw it up on ebay a month later w/ no reserve, done nothing except towed to his house 12 miles away or so. Got $75k for it exactly as it was needing full restore. I always watch the auctions to see if someone restored it. It was a dark green it appeared under the light surface rust & faded paint. Then heard his brother used to race it at Ct. dragway in early 70’s.

    7
      • Al

        Someone sank a TON into restoring it. Like I said, I couldn’t even tell the color but I’ll bet when I saw it in ’99, it was painted over like a dark green. Lotta surface rust, looked like algae green. Interior black & pretty ratty needing everything literally. Was no hint of it being that bright blue but it is definitely it, as I’m friends with the Mason bros. For $900 to buy & restore was a hell of a deal for me then, but knowing that one paid $75k for it & then turned a complete whole do over to it to get it like new, was probably another $100k+ put into it.

    • Al

      @ Hans YES! That is it! It was Eddy Masons in Stratford he got from his brother. Wow, now I’m blown away. Beyond sick! I know that this ‘buyer’ had one hell of a time making the deal with this, as the ‘Greek’ that bought it from Eddy is no easy pushover & knew the value of this. The guy didn’t say in that article what he paid, but I know for a fact, it was $75k. As I asked the Greek, ‘did you throw Eddy $10k’ he says “NO, F him” lol! Yes, still lifelong friends they are lol. I’d have at least thrown him $10k. Geez, to read that was the FIRST one too. I can’t believe another big one was in my hands practically & didn’t even know it. I thought was a dark green but had to be dark blue as I’m literally colorblind in greens & browns.

      3
      • Al

        Found out the guy that bought it from my friend for $75k, resold it to another for $180k. That owner now, is Joe Gibbs who also put another almost $300k into the car. They believe it can be worth between $2M-$3m now. Joe Mason the orig owner I talked with, he’s partnered up with Joel Rosen at Motion Performance now.

    • Chuck Malo Member

      I’ve heard a rumor on two websites that a few C2 Corvettes were built with 365 HP (solid lifter) motors and factory A/C. That certainly does not make it true, however, maybe a few?

      • Roy Blankenship

        You are correct, you could buy a 365-327 in ’64 and ’65 with factory AC. They used a larger pulley on the compressor to prevent overspeeding.

  14. Troy s

    Z16 was a loaded car, high profile type of car that really in my own opinion was the best version of the 396 Chevelle. Corvette motor with hydraulic lifters instead of solids so it was rated at 375 hp, exhaust manifolds were more restrictive too, but this is not the 375 horse L78.
    14 second quarters off the lot but it could stop good with the big car brakes.
    1500 dollar option in ’65 was huge, even though a rich cat just couldn’t go down to the local Chevy dealer and buy one. L79 327 was available that year too and to me that is a killer street set up in the early Chevelles…
    These are teaser photos at best, seller would be okay to show some full shots just for heck’s sake.

    2
  15. J_Paul Member

    Just looked at the ad again, and something stood out I didn’t notice before: Based on the photo of the underside, this car has no engine or transmission. And there’s nothing in the description that says one comes with the car with all the other “hard to find parts.”

    So, even if this turns out to be a real Z16—the missing tranny makes the whole “automatic” description moot—this is a $125,000 hulk that might never be restored to originality.

    3
  16. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car! I’ve always loved the 1965 Chevy Chevelle. Assuming everything on the car is all there, and everything is solid, with no holes or rust holes, then such a car can be a perfect candidate for restoration, or even a driving restoration, or even a restomod. Given its current condition, I’d be more than reluctant to pay the $125,000 asking price. It’d cost a lot of money to get the car up and running.

    1
  17. jerry Murray

    The remote mirror is incorrect. On the Z16 the whole head moved, not the glass. Stalk is also incorrect. The correct mirror was also an option on 64@ 65 Corvairs. I recently sold 2 of the mirrors.

  18. Lance Nord

    w.o.r.s.t. p.h.o.t.o. m.o.n.t.a.g.e. e.v.e.r.

    3
  19. Ted

    I again add it would be the bestest thing ever if we find a state, or better yet a prosecutor slash car guy to go after fraudulent car sellers. This advert isn’t good enough to use as TP.

    4
  20. JOHN D. FELDT

    Some body way back when , got their hands on some z-16 parts and cloned them onto a non SS Malibu body , after they took the body side moldings off. SS cars did not ever have middle of the body side moldings in 1965 only the plainer Malibu had them.

    2
  21. JOHN

    Somebody way back when , got their hands on some z-16 parts and cloned them onto a non SS Malibu body , after they took the body side moldings off. SS cars did not ever have middle of the body side moldings in 1965 only the plainer Malibu had them.

  22. Chasman358 Member

    Please ad decent PICTURES!!!

  23. TimM

    I’m always amazed by the knowledge of people on the site!! Some of you guys have a lot of good knowledge and it’s a pleasure to read what you write!!! So have a beer and relax and be proud you know what you know!! I never had one of these but I’m a little more in the know about what to look for!! My hats off to you all!!!

    5
  24. Rich Romanowski

    I’m a bidder for the moldings and emblem if he parts it out…

    2
    • Chris Daniels

      Hi Rich
      Many years no talk.
      Chris D. California

  25. plwindish

    Its for sure a “barn find”, a barn that had cattle as I’m smelling a ton of BS about this car. Buyer Beware!

    3
  26. jerry z

    There is a photo showing the VIN. If all the Z16’s are documented, the VIN should tell the story if it’s true.

    2
  27. Chuck Malo Member

    The same engine, when installed in a Corvette, was rated at
    425 HP. In the ‘Vette it had a solid lifter cam and supposedly better air exhaust, and maybe intake air flow.

  28. Chris S.

    Now on EBAY: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1965-Chevrolet-Chevelle/333270992369?hash=item4d987fc5f1:g:jKUAAOSwOPxdMRXj

    Questionable side trim and Malibu emblem on quarter panels.

    1
  29. foggydogg

    Read the ad, folks.
    Jeff Helms at chevelles knows about this car

    1
  30. JC

    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d0/4e/cf/d04ecfe60915084e02c1050bd69d2205.jpg
    Mr. Durham campaigned a 1964 Chevelle, which he bought new from Hicks Chevrolet where he worked. He used the motor out of his ’63 factory race car, a 427W Z11.
    Nice story written during his lifetime,
    https://www.hemmings.com/blog/article/the-foundation-shaker/
    I guess all the folks who bid the car up on eBay should have come here first for advice.

    1

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