Former Drag Car: 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle

First up, yes, I know this Chevelle looks like a 1964 model. That’s because this 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle has a ’64 front clip attached. Beyond that, this Chevy has a tres cool, old school, dragster vibe about it. There’s quite a bit of good, but also some not so good to consider here, so let’s take a deep dive. This ’65 Chevelle is located in Oakland, Oregon, and is available here on eBay for a current bid of  $4,050, reserve not yet met.

I owned a ’65 Chevelle Malibu SS between 1971 and 1973, I wanted to do exactly to mine, what’s been done to this example. And that’s a challenge as you have to build a streetable racecar that has some reliability, especially when it’s the only wheels that you own, a typical situation for a teenager. Mine never got close to this but it was an enjoyable dream just the same.

First up are the radiused rear wheel openings. The ’64 and ’65 Chevelle have only partially opened rear wheel wells so getting out your saw and cutting away was how you made the giant drag slicks fit. The job performed here is pretty well done. And the jacked suspension, front and back, was a necessary part of the execution too. There is rust in this Chevy, actually, rust in a lot of places. The trunk pan is shot and the floors have been fixed with irregular sheet metal patches attached with sheet metal screws. A problem? Well maybe, depends on what you want to do with this Chevelle. If you are looking for a vintage restored racer, you’ll have your work cut out (no pun intended) for yourself. If you want to take this beast to the track, you could just keep it as is, less metal equals less dead weight on the strip. As for the mixed-match front end, probably the result of a crash and a ’64 clip was available. That said, I do prefer the ’65 grille to the ’64, it’s a subtle difference but a subjectively cleaner look.

Under the hood is “a large journal 327, 11 to 1 compression, big hyd. cam. with roller rockers, unalite electronic distributor” backed up by a “Shaffer clutch. Transmission is a Doug Nash 5 speed with liberty gears. rear end is a 12 bolt 4-11 with Richmond gears”. It’s a trip down memory lane! The seller claims that this Chevy “runs and drives” but could use an alignment – not exactly overwhelming praise for something that looks deserving of it. Other improvements include: “New brakes all around including lines, wheel cylinders, shoes, master cylinder, front drilled and slotted disk break (sic) set up. New fuel tank, sending unit, and fuel lines. solid motor mounts, transmission mount. and ladder bars”. I love the ladder bars, I haven’t seen a pair of those in years!

The interior is racecar rough, somewhat gutted with rusty and/or patched floors. The original style bucket seats are in place but they are not in the best of condition. Again, it’s a trade-off, restore this Chevelle by repairing or replacing all of the damaged or missing interior components or run with it as is, in complete street/strip brawler mode. Of note is the tachometer, it appears as a period piece to match this Chevelle’s era.

I like the racecar “chi” that this Chevelle throws off and I’d be inclined to keep it as such, but maybe repair some of the body and interior and bring it up a bit to a less deteriorated condition. Since it would be tough to undo all of the significant racecar mods that have been installed, this Chevelle is probably beyond returning to stock form or trying to perform a full restoration, there are better examples available for that task.  How about you, race, restore or something in between?

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  1. Classic Steel

    Well its a race car with butchered wheel wells and hood cut for sure 😉

    I guess technically any car that beat another car on the drag strip, red light Or survived a teenage driver back in the day is considered a drag car these days.

    I would have liked to see some sketching or letters in side by a rattle can to confirm real race car too. 😂. Names like “Night Stalker” ,”Addict”,”Asphalt Alligator’, “Voo Doo” and “Door Blown in Crusher “.!!

    Who needs drag sheets, website or past paper trail heritage to say raced at xx race way for years holding the top ten posts.

    Like 5
  2. Reinhold Jung

    That’s one way to get ridd of some of the root in the rear quarter fenderwells?

    Like 3
  3. Dave Patten

    Looks like a new fuel tank was a good idea, its the only thing keeping the trunk floor off the ground!

    I’d be more concerned about the frame rails where the lower rear control arms attach. Common area for this era Chevelle to rust away.

    If the frame is solid, make it a sound and maybe not so pretty driver (and have fun cruising in it!)

    Like 3
  4. TimM

    Get it on a lift to see the rust first then count the sheet metal screws coming through the floor before you drop a dime on this one!!!

    Like 7
  5. Steve R

    The seller never suggests it’s an old race car. The modifications are more in line with a street racer, not something that saw serious track time.

    The reason you don’t see bolt on ladder bars like this on cars any more is because they don’t work. If they did, guys going to the track would still use them. They have been relegated to duty on “day two” cars that only see action sitting in a parking stall at the local car show.

    Steve R

    Like 2
  6. jerry z

    A little rough but I like it anyway. The Doug Nash 5 speed did it for me! This is the type of car to just beat the snot out of it and not care what other people think.

    Like 6
    • Dusty Stalz

      I dig it too. The only thing I’d add is power brakes.

      Like 1
      • Stevieg

        Stopping is over rated lol.

  7. Jimmy

    I’d love to have it and pull the motor change the crank out to a 350 crank and bam a 302! Now that’d be a lot o fun right there, I don’t care what ya say!

    • Chip Starr

      Jimmy, you make a 302 by putting a 283crank in a 327, or by boring your 283 1/8” over.

      Like 8
      • Joe

        Better yet, Find an OLD 283, bore it 1/8, and a 1/2 stroker. Called a 4 by Half ! 352, and they SCREAM !

        Like 1
  8. John S.

    Everything is neater when you’re cruisin’ in a beater!

    Like 4
  9. martinsane

    Is the wheels, tires, motor and tranny worth over 6k? Thats the current bid with reserve not yet met. Also not a fan of the Washington State plates on an Oregon car. May be title and licensing issues for the next sap, i mean owner. All that said i do like the street racer vibe but i cant imagine that body sticking around after a couple 6 grand launched.

  10. Dave Mathers

    My first NEW car was a 64 Malibu SS 327/250 4 speed. The 300 HP came out later. Silver w/black buckets, factory tach, 3.50 posi and not much else. I put 175,000 miles on it over four years. I sold it to a guy who let it get hit and killed by a train. I raced it in F/S with 8.00 x14 M&H slicks. I was down to the Stock Class final one Sunday and my buddy came over and said to use his slicks. 9.00 x 15 M&H. I launched at six grand as always and the car made a funny sound but hooked HARD!! Won the race but in the shutdown area the car was all over the track. Came back to my pit and told my buddy I think I blew one of your slicks. He looked and NOPE!! Climbed under the car and it had launched so hard it ripped the upper crossmember out of the frame. Took me a week to move everything (fuel tank, etc.) and weld it back in. 64 had TWO rear upper control arms, 65 and later only had one. I really miss that car.

    Like 4
    • Camaro guy

      😁 I did the same thing on a 63 Impala 327/4 speed the good old days launching a stick shift at 6 grand 👴

      Like 1
    • j

      WHAT ??? The 64 to 72’s were the same 4 links… 73 to late G bodies were the same design. Add the braces from a Wagon, Camino, OR F41, and you had a strong setup, with good bushings, you could launch at 8200 all day. I did it in a 1970 A body !

      Like 2
      • Dave Mathers

        I stand corrected!! It was FIFTY SIX years ago and I truly thought that I remembered that the 65s had a single upper control arm. Funny thing about memories!! LOL

        Like 1
  11. Mr Mikey

    If you ordered a ’65 Chevelle late in ’64, the early ones came with a ’64 front clip, because the ’65 front clips weren’t ready yet. The purchaser had the choice of keeping the car as delivered, or exchanging it for one with a ’65 front clip.
    I had a ’65 El Camino that came from the factory with a ’64 front clip, but it was registered as a ’65.
    Although relatively rare, this might be how it originally came from the factory.

    Like 3
  12. Troy s

    I like it, maybe more than that jacked up 442 a day ago, but it’s not a strip only car. Of course the plates, but that 327 with the massive tunnel ram and a hydralic cam, she’ll go alright but it seems overkill on the induction, especially with only 4.11’s. Cool 5 speed and all but I get the feeling it was a street machine for the most part.
    No solid lifters….for the rpm’s this would need. Am I wrong here to think that?Neat car just the same.

    Like 1

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