One Of Only 201! 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS396 Z16

It’s like finding hen’s teeth, it is, in the case of this 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS Z16. This is the model that was the forerunner of the SS396 Chevelle. All assembled in Kansas City in early 1965, the Z16 is arguably the rarest Chevrolet Chevelle ever produced. As of this writing, the whereabouts of 65 of the 201 have been identified, whether this Beltsville, Maryland example is among that inventory or not is uncertain. Nevertheless, it’s a rare find and it is available here on eBay for a current bid of $38,100, reserve not yet met, or a BIN price of $99,999 (gulp!)

This was the car that would put Chevrolet on equal footing with the Pontiac and its, headed for legendary status, GTO. The story goes that Chevrolet wanted to produce a full run of Z16s for ’65 but was held back by internal rivalries that were aimed at not diminishing the GTO’s sales momentum. Chevrolet was essentially told to wait until ’66 for full model production but use the 201 Z16s as a tickler.

This example was supposedly owned a drag racer named Malcolm Durham and served as his daily driver. Durham was employed by Hick’s Chevrolet of Washington, D.C., and had connections at Chevrolet that put him in the position of being able to seek out and acquire special cars. As an aside, Durham, who was black and has since passed, was considered the Jackie Robinson of drag racing and held in high regard for breaking drag racing’s color barrier. The NHRA lists Durham as one of the top 50 drivers of all time.

How the current owner came into possession of this Z16 five years ago is not referenced in the listing but as can be seen, it’s a roller and in challenging shape. The body has deteriorated quarters but it appears that the seller has replacements. The trunk pan shows what may be some perforation as does the body in isolated locations. The underside displays surface rust but it doesn’t appear to be invasive. Most importantly, this Malibu SS still has all of its unique Z16 trunk lid trim which sets it apart from lesser Malibu SSs. Also, the frame, as is specific to Z16 models, is a convertible, fully-boxed piece with the convertible bracing still in place. Beyond that, and some missing trim, the body is basically all there.

The original engine is unfortunately gone. The seller states that Durham removed it for inclusion into his race car and substituted another big-block engine of unknown provenance for the original motor. The built-with 396 CI V8, dubbed the L37, developed 375 gross HP but is not to be confused with the better known 375 HP L78. This Z16- unique engine employed a hydraulic lifter camshaft as opposed to the solid lifter component in the later L78. As for what you get in its place? Uncertain. And you’ll need to put it together. The seller also has a four-speed manual transmission included with the sale.

The interior is about as you would expect it, it’s a bit rough but not too terrible. The driver’s seat is done and the dash pad is cracked but the rest of it is in reasonable shape. The plastic instrument panel bezel is dechroming itself, a common issue with age, but it can be replated or replaced. Most importantly, the rare 160 MPH speedometer, a Z16-only item, is still in place. And, the dealer-installed A/C, added in 1966, is evidenced by the instrument panel vent.

Once again, we are encountered by a “Youstabee”. This Chevy used to have the unique and rare L37 engine, but no more. That engine was only installed in a Malibu SS Z16 so without it, you really don’t have the guts of what makes these cars so special. And it particularly matters in this case due to the current lofty bid price and the rather notable BIN price. There is definite value to this car because of the rarity of the model and the fact that this example has the right clues with the trunk lid trim and the high-velocity speedometer.  The devil is in the details with the included engine, however. If it can be built into something reasonably similar to the original, it will help justify the value. Then again, there are already 24 bids in a respectable range so there are those that are showing favor for this car, regardless of the engine situation. One day to go in the bidding, where do you think it will top out?

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Comments

  1. J_Paul Member

    This particular car has been for sale for quite some time, and was even featured here previously:

    https://barnfinds.com/1-of-200-z16-malcolm-durhams-65-malibu-ss/

    https://barnfinds.com/crazy-rare-find-1965-chevelle-z16-1-of-201/

    I would imagine that trying to sell a high-dollar car would be tough in the days of COVID, but what do I know? I recently bought a new car and the dealer told me they were immensely busy. Go figure.

    Like 15
    • jerry z

      No mention of any documentation on the car. For $99K, I would think some trail of paperwork would be appropiate.

      Like 13
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Ooops, thanks for the heads-up J_Paul. I looked but couldn’t find it.

      JO

    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      And still a “No Sale” deal.

      “I know what I’ve got.”

      Yep, and you’re keeping it.

      Like 7
  2. Arthell64 Member

    The original owner used this car the way it was intended and my guess had fun with it. The money it will take to buy it and restore it may not be so much fun but I do like these cars.

    Like 6
  3. Troy s

    I don’t get it, Oldsmobile countered with the 442 in late ’64, I’m sure Buick had a GS in ’65, so Chevy has to sit back and eat it till ’66? I get that there were no 409 Chevelles, none built at the factory anyways, and there was a hot version of the 327 available that none to many people bought, I always thought these were delayed because of the Corvette for some reason or another.
    She’s very rare, needle in the haystack kinda stuff, but without the original engine she’s no longer pure. Doesn’t matter what big block it has now as it’s not the special one it came with. Some here will call a ’69 Z/28 without the original engine just another Camaro…so is this just another Chevelle? I’m lost on it money wise but it sure would make for a nasty street/strip–show car. Never happen of course.

    Like 13
  4. Beyfon

    My story on these has nothing to do with Z16.
    Back when I was a kid in the 70’s my uncle was rear-ended in his Auto Union AU1000 and ended up buying an Acadian Custom Beaumont Hardtop Coupe. (Same body as this car, but 6-cylinder and 3 on the tree.) It had ultra high mileage as it had been used as the road trip car for a Country Music band traveling all over Northern Sweden for gigs. To me it was a really cool car, but I think he only got it because they were 6 in the family and there weren’t many cars around where you could fit them all. It was truly ultra-reliable. By the late-70’s he had over 1.3 million kilometers (800,000 miles+) when my cousin was driving it, trying to save a spilled ice cream cone and veered off the road at 50 mph hitting a light pole straight on. Normally those were fatal accidents in old cars but in this case the car just clipped the metal light pole straight off its base and careened over it.
    It had hit by the frame rail on the driver’s side so the left front wheel was some 3-4” behind the right one but my uncle just tied some heavy chains around that frame rail and a huge pine tree and kept reversing hard until the frame was somewhat straight again. He hammered the hood and front bumper somewhat straight against the garage floor but had a problem with the steering box that had cracked. Somehow the Acadian used a different steering box than the Chevelle and no replacement would fit. At the end he fixed the old steering box with bondo and baling wire and drove the car for another 2-3 years. That car just refused to die!

    Like 20
  5. Steve R

    This car has been the subject of many threads on Chevelle specific forums. It’s the real deal and is well known among collectors. Sometimes the threads discuss whether it’s real or not since this car is brought up nearly every time it’s listed for sale. There is a long list of Z16 specific parts which include many suspension and trim pieces, which are unobtainable and this car still has. As for price, it’s obvious the seller wants too much money since it hasn’t sold. This isn’t a case of a rare car waiting for the “right” buyer, anyone that would be interested already knows about it. It’s a matter of pricing. Eventually the seller will come down.

    The missing engine isn’t as big of a deal as people suggest, it was common in these cars. These aren’t like most muscle cars where the drivetrain and a few pieces of trim were all that differentiated them from more pedestrian models, these cars were basically one off (actually 201) builds with substantial changes over the typical 65 SS. The real debate among collectors is whether it gets restored to stock or the way original owner had it when he drove it.

    Steve R

    Like 14
    • JeffD

      I disagree Steve. Finding a useable 4 bolt #962 block dated for this car is extremely difficult and expensive. Finding the original #3310 carb with peanut float bowls, ( no, that is not the correct one in the picture), is impossible, and even if you did, would cost you two times the block cost!!!! Engine parts are a big factor here, looks like the only originals might be the intake and heads. The rest of it you have to find, and 1965 is the worst year to need big block parts for, so that is the reason. Collectors know this, they generally research it before spending six figures on a project. It will sell eventually for a high price, but likely three forths of what it’s listed at.

      Like 11
      • Steve R

        Those parts only matter if the car is restored to stock. If someone goes the day two route, as the original owner used it, they can use vintage speed equipment which is much cheaper and more readily available. The car will be more unique since most Z16’s have been restored to stock. Beyond being less expensive it would also more likely be driven, which seems to be a popular theme on this site.

        Steve R

        Like 8
      • Tom Member

        Jeff I agree.

        Steve, love your comments but on this one, with only 201 ever made how do you NOT restore it to stock? I think there is a responsibility to cars like this among people like to make the car right.

        I would be like finding a 69 Trans Am painted Red with no motor and not making it right. Like JeffD mentioned, it’s going to take a lot of money but there is, in my opinion, a duty to source the right parts and paint the car the right color during a concours resto. This IS one of the cars that WILL continue to be collectable.

        Like 1
    • stillrunners stillrunners Member

      Steve – it actually been proven/documented it was Malcolm’s car ? Just asking I know it’s rare even without documentation but to through his name around – maybe why the high asking price ?

      • Steve R

        I believe the ownership is documented, it’s not brought up in this thread, but the guys with knowledge of the car speak about its history dating back to the mid-60’s. You’d have to search out other threads on the car to know for sure. It seems that every time the current seller lists it for sale threads are started on various Chevelle sites, one of those may go into detail about its paper trail. I’d be surprised if whoever eventually buys the car doesn’t ask for iron clad documentation prior to purchase.

        Steve R

        Like 2
  6. RedLamar

    Much respect to those who have detailed knowledge of Z16’s, especially this one, and to those who are engaging in the discussion as to what is or is not original on this one / them. I hope you will keep it civil and that we can all enjoy learning more about them. Since learning of these from an article years ago about actor Dan Blocker having one I have been fascinated by them and read everything I can find on them.

    Like 10
    • Fred Alexander

      It would be interesting to see #1, if Dan Blocker’s still exists somewhere, #2 if Jay Leno might have one of these in his collection – – guess I could quiz thru Dr. Google but it’s more interesting throwing out the questions to the group on here.

      Like 2
  7. Chas358 Chas358

    IMO since the original engine is missing this is just a rusty ’65 Chevelle. If someone wants to pay $99K for it…good for them. It’s a shame since these are so rare.

    Like 8
    • Classic Steel

      I concur no orig engine is why it stopped at 50k plus.

      Not a 99 k car..to me its like dropping a 396 in my 64 chevelle not 65 and driving it ..
      yes i know the car for sale was a all original at birth bit not now

      Fyi they make aftermarket emblems to clone for 1/3 of price 🤔

  8. 433jeff

    Yea,may the spirit of the z16 live on in a cheaper clone. Holding back the chevy for tge Gto, thats nice.

    Like 2
  9. Kelly Waldrop

    201 to 200. Friend of mine had one in 1971. BB long gone. 327 in its place. Spun bearing and sat. Rusted and used as aroundy round racer.

    Like 3
  10. Bigbird

    This will be a buy for the group of people that have parts and maybe own another Z16. It is just like the Impala Z11’s, if you travel that circle you may have access to the parts needed to complete a car for a price they can afford. Too much for the average joe……

    Like 5
  11. Big Mike

    Isnt the engine what makes it so rare? Makes no sense to put such a high BIN price.

  12. Vince H

    I have seen two of these. Both were red. In 64 the 442 had a 330 cubic inch engine.

    Like 3
    • moosie moosie

      A friend of mine had one in Red, it was a theft recovery. He bought it minus the motor, hence the theft recovery. He put in a worked 283 and had a very nice street car, back then (1966) they were not collectible yet.

      Like 2
  13. Fred Alexander

    $99,000 BIN price – – – pass the dope to the dope – – – he’ll be buried with this car. not bathing in $99, 000 – –
    Nuff said.

    Like 1
  14. blkadder

    While this is a cool car, I am not sure of the value of this rusty Chevy. I would like to know a bit more about the M151 that shows in the pictures.

  15. Jim Benjaminson

    Personally I thought all of these cars were red but I’m no Chevy expert. A local fellow had one of these and that car still exists. The prototype – re: the FIRST car – resides in Bob Marvin’s collection in Warroad, Minnesota, along with 100 other high-dollar muscle cars. 99 big ones for a car without its original engine – don’t know what the owner is smoking but its time to sober up!

    Like 2
    • J_Paul Member

      From what I remember when reading about this car before, it was originally red but the owner repainted it to blue, to match his race car.

      From the factory, you could also get yellow and black, as well as red.

      Like 1
  16. SS

    This person is a fool. I have owned and reconditioned several 64-67 malibu’s. their asking price is incredibly ignorant.

    Like 1
    • 1st Gear

      Ignoring a Z16 and allowing it to reach this condition should be a crime,as should be the BIN. Yes, what’s left is indeed special,and when put into perspective,a rolling chassis ’65 Z16 is worthy of note and respect. When I noticed this,I got goose bumps, because that come by only once in your life.

      Like 3
  17. Joe Haska

    WOW! This is why, I like reading Barn Finds, someting like this turns up and I just don’t get it and then the comments come rolling in ,and I go OMG, I never knew that. The other side of that is, my wife who says ,why would you care, if you knew that, or not ? Oh well.

    Like 1
    • Stevieg

      I’m with you Joe! I’ve learned a lot on this site, some of it makes me feel like Cliff Clavin from the tv show Cheers lol. But I am glad to learn it all, useless or not!

    • Tom Member

      That right Joe….and WE understand !!!!!

  18. TimM

    If the original motor was under the hood and it wasn’t rusting out around the windows, maybe just maybe it would be worth 99K but with those parts not being original!!!! No way!!!! Some one needs to get a grip on reality or stop watching Barrett Jackson or Mecum!!! The 65 did have the best grill in my opinion!!!

    Like 2
  19. Jack Member

    I have only seen one Z16 and that was late in the year 1965 in a dealer’s showroom in Richmond VA. It was yellow and looked like the Z16 in Hot Rod Magazine for that time. The Z16 had a hydraulic lifter cam and was not the same engine that was in the bad actor L78, but I doubt the Z16 was weak.

    The L79 327 350HP Chevelles also had a hydraulic lifter cam and they gave the big block GTO’s all they could handle back in 1965 at the dragstrip. There would be about 15 GTOs and Chevelle 327s apiece using four speeds battling it out each Sunday. I don’t think any of them had the new Z16 emblems on the Chevelles because they only made about 200 of them nationwide.

  20. JoeNYWF64

    Anybody reproducing that speedometer?
    Wonder if the dealer cut a hole in the dash plate to fit the a/c vent or swapped in a non a/c dash plate.
    2 MUCH rarer chevy’s IMO are the ’68 caprice coupe with hidden headlites(only ever saw 1 !) & a ’69 camaro RS with the 230 or 250 strait 6(never seen any! lol).
    But there are no production figures for the latter 2 options to prove either.

  21. Gary

    Already off the market, probably just testing to see what interest there was.

  22. Paul L Windish

    Rare, but without knowing what the engine brings to the table, someone is going to put a ton of money into something they will not get a decent return on. With the BIN price, one would think everything original would be there. Certainly not worth it to me.

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie

      @ Paul L Windish,,,,,Most aficionados do cars like this up, restore , ETC. not to realize a return on their investment. But the BIN on this Z16 is unrealistic without the original engine ( in any condition ), even with it it might be a stretch.

      Like 1
  23. David

    I thought all Z16s came with power windows.

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