Rare Optioned: 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS

Chevrolet hit a grand-slam in 1965 with their completely redesigned “B” body full-size car. How big a grand-slam? How about 1,046,000 Impalas? And that doesn’t include the Bel Air, Biscayne and mid-year introduced Caprice trim levels. And out of the Impala count, 243,000 were of the sporty SS variety and that’s what we have here for review. Located in Rosewell, Ohio, this 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS is available here on eBay, the current bid of $8,300, reserve not yet met. Thanks to local_sheriff for the tip!

SS or Super Sport did not necessarily mean big power. It was more of a bucket seat, center console, badging and wheel cover identifier. The SS model could be optioned as a performance model with powerful engine choices, four-speed manual transmissions, and heavy-duty suspensions but most weren’t. They were usually equipped with the standard V8 engine or maybe one up in size to the first optional engine. Some were even built with in-line six-cylinder motors. This example is typical, it is equipped with the standard 283 CI V8, good for 195 HP. But where it gets interesting is in the transmission selection. This Impala is equipped with the standard three-speed manual transmission but the shift is on the column and not via the SS mandated center console. Having owned a few Impala SS models from the ’60s, I have seen this arrangement before but it is rare, very rare. Had the original owner specified a four-speed manual transmission, it would have had a floor shift via the console. Anyway, how’s it run? Don’t know, the seller claims that it has been in storage for 30 years and he has not tried to start it.

The body appears to be pretty straight and sound. There seems to be a bit of surface rust on the frame in a few places but not perforation. Same with the body, particularly along the bottom edge of the rocker-panel. The seller adds that the floors and trunk pan are fine. Of particular note, this SS is still wearing its original Delco spiral shock absorbers. This was the first year for a return to a perimeter frame on “B” body Chevrolets, the last use being in 1957. The early ‘65s had problems with cracking in the front portion of the frame as it turns in and starts to curve upwards toward the engine compartment. There was a service bulletin issued for correction and the solution involved welding. By mid-’65 the problem was resolved and this frame design stayed in use, largely unchanged, through ’70.

The interior looks original and would seem to be in good repair. The seller states that it needs a good cleaning and I would concur. The dash pad and upholstery fabric appear to be free of cracks and tears. Note the center console with no shift lever.

So, here we have a case of a rarity but does it translate into value? Probably not a whole lot more than if this car had an automatic transmission with a console positioned shift lever but maybe a little more. The money movers on Impalas are generally SS equipment, big-block engine (which in ’65 was a 409 CI V8 for the first half of the model year and a 396 CI V8 for the back half of the year) and a convertible top. Regular SS models like this do command some respect in valuation, especially the ’65 and ’66 model years. I think if I owned this Impala, I would have to fight the temptation to keep from installing a floor shift – that console just looks lonely or naked or both. And that would be wrong, it would kill this car’s uniqueness. How about you, what would you do?


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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Nice ride for sure. I never knew about the overdrive in these. It does seem strange. Why not just get the four speed? And get rid of the red floormats. Nice job on the Ebay ad.

    Like 2
    • Ken

      “Why not just get the four speed?”

      Most likely because a) the original owner’s previous car was a three-on-the-tree, and he preferred that method of shifting over a floor shift four-speed, and b) it was cheaper. The SS could also be ordered with a straight six, and 3,600 people chose that option in 1965.


      I’d leave it the way it is. It’s a super rare option. I’m not going to second-guess the original owner’s preference. It’s what he wanted.

      Like 15
      • jerry

        general motors did some really strange things back in the day ,for instance there is a 69 chevelle ss running around here 2 door hardtop 307, automatic on the tree bucket seats no center console radio delete, steel wheels dog dish hub caps I asked the owner why would anybody order some thing like this? his reply better than your junk dodge! my car is rare! yea right! gut less chev!

        Like 2
      • JOHN Member

        Rare options? The standard and only available engine in the 1969 Chevelle SS was the 396. Of course, it is possible the original 396 COULD have been pulled and replaced at the dealership when ordered, however, extremely, extremely rare. But that would not make it an original car. Regarding buckets, consoles, column shift cars, I remember quite a few SS’s with a bench seat automatic, not that unusual. I graduated high school in 1970, which I think was about the top of the heap.

        Like 1
  2. Andrew Franks

    Make it very nice, leave it alone except for a tan interior. I hate black interiors and they are very difficult even with air conditioning in my summer climate.

    Like 3
  3. local_sheriff

    The 3spd overdrive was a light duty unit destined for the smaller engines, ie L-6 and 283. It allowed the car to be spec’d with steeper rear end gearing for acceptable acceleration while still keeping RPM low at highway speeds. I’ve seen a few SS Impalas with regular 3spd, however this must be the 1st I’ve seen with the 3spd overdrive.
    As for the interior maybe,just maybe, a really thorough Green Clean wash will help, but I fear this can remain a rather smelly environment without new soft goods. Something to keep in mind when bidding…yuk!

    Like 2
  4. mtshootist1

    well, I had a 63 Chevy II with a 194 six, and column shift, I could beat 283’s and 327’s off the line, most of the way down the quarter mile with that column shift. The old man bought a new Chevy station wagon, in 67, I think it was an Impala, with a 396 ci, auto transmission, when you stomped on the gas, and that four barrel kicked in, it almost threw you in the backseat. (as a teenage hotrodder) I rarely got the chance.

    Like 8
  5. jerry z

    Sorry but 3 spd w/OD is nothing to write home about. That’s a lot of weight for a 283 to pull. Pull out the drivetrain and install a BB with a 4/5/6 spd and beat the hell out of it!

    Like 10
    • Tom Bell

      Yup, and another original car down the toilet.

      Like 19
      • Kman

        Yup. Make it how you want it and drive the wheels off it.

        Like 2
    • Rattlehead

      at the very least a 4 speed. but the 283 will run out of pooh-pooh pretty damned quick.

  6. Classic Steel

    Not to be scrooge here but has anyone used their phones to expand the pictures shown of frame under the doors. It shows sadly craters and drill size holes within the frame .
    Its a cool car and i like it …but just saying some patches or new frame possibly needed.

    Like 3
    • Danno

      Does anyone make an aftermarket frame for 65 Impalas?

      Like 1
    • PatrickM

      Yeah. And the bidding is up to $10,000.00, already. Basically, I like this car…a lot. Just can’t afford it. It isn’t too far from home but, if it lived near the lakes, I wouldn’t even consider it. With the rust issues already shown and mentioned, the one who finally gets it is going to have a a lot of work on their hands. Good luck, my friends.

  7. JoeNYWF64

    I wonder how many of the million plus ’65 big chevies are LEFT?
    I heard they rusted bad – was it in the frame?
    I think the rarest ’65 big chevy is the 4 door only Caprice. Only seen 1 !! back in mid 60’s & still remember seeing it & where i was! Same with my sighting of the rarest of ’68 big chevy’s – the caprice coupe with hidden headlites. Only ever seen of those 1 too! Just one of each!
    I bet even some old timers here may not have seen either of them!

    Like 3
  8. 65mpala

    As far as the dashboard goes, the dashpad was an option. This one has the steel dash. It’ll never crack.

    Like 3
  9. socaljoe

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chevy with a column shift and a console. This is a perfect example of how rare options (or lack of) doesn’t mean it is worth any more money.

    Like 3
    • JoeNYWF64

      It’s very odd where they put the optional clock & i guess if you got it, u HAD to get column shift cause the clock is where the shifter would be(stupid!), though shouldn’t the optional clock be up higher to the right of the speedo? – what’s up there? lol

  10. Gaspumpchas

    IMHO, sure would be cool with the 3 on the tree and the 283, but that frame is shot!! I see holes in it. Jim is correct but here in the rust belt, they never corrected the problems so 65-67’s all had rotten frames, I had a nice 66 impala that I patched the frame on for years then I had to give in to the iron worms. Unless you want to go to the trouble of changing out the frame with a good used one or go with an aftermarket, this is a parts car. sorry for the negativity, but this is a polished turd.

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      Did this apply to ’65-’67 cousin cars from cousin GM divisions too?
      Why didn’t earlier & later ones have the frame problems?
      Lousy steel? – i would expect that in the ’70’s, not ’60s!
      Too thin of a frame in certain areas?
      Certain frame areas designed where even water does not dry out easily?(roughly 1/2 of the country does NOT salt their roads!)
      So i guess if the frame cracks, say midway under the big 65-67 chevies, those cars can not “impersonate” a unibody, like a 1st gen camaro?(which is 1/2 frame & half unibody)
      & still be safe to drive?
      Surprised there were no recalls, considering how insanely many were sold & how few are left.

  11. ted

    I knew someone 20 years ago had a 67 impala 427 4spd light yellow. Us car in Canada. It was no effort to burn rubber in 3rd. What was production numbers for this car. Curious of value today. It was show room

  12. TCOPPS TCOPPS Member

    I bet that interior is a quite musty.

  13. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    65-70 B body Chevy’s frames tended to rust where the trans crossmember attached. When they were 15-20 years old, the body structure ( especially the rocker panels) was solid enough that you often didn’t realize they were rusting that badly until the crossmember would bang against the floor on acceleration or braking.
    If you’ve never driven a 3 speed with overdrive, you are missing out on some automotive fun. My first car (’55 Delray) had a V8 with a 3 spd and overdrive. Tri 5s with overdrive all had 4.11 gears. Routinely got 22-23 mpg, freewheeling when in OD, could shift without clutching. Around town usually drove in 2nd OD, put the engine in a sweet power band. I have a 55 Nomad that I’ve had since 1975, has a ’65 283 with the column shift 3 spd OD, 4.11 rear with a P case posi. I was going to put a Camaro 5 speed in, but the more I thought about it, I decided I liked the column shift and OD too much.

    Like 3
  14. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    You gots “mud in yor tires “…….seeing to much on the rockers….

  15. Rustytech Member

    The frame under this one looks like Swiss cheese in the picture of the rocker pinch weld. Look it over carefully!

  16. JOHN Member

    The three on the tree is an anti-theft device! How many of today’s generation could even figure it out?

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      I think the question to ask is how many 3 on the tree shifters will actually go into the gear you want when you want it.

      Like 1
      • Gaspumpchas

        Miguel, you are so correct, and if the worn linkage jams you will have greasy hands from jiggling it under the hood! Alll makes!!

      • Miguel

        I still have two in the back yard that do that to me, which is why they are in the back yard.

  17. jimmy the orphan

    Stops on a dime give’s ya 9 cents change Dash board just won’t crack. I was drive’n up grape……………………… Oh never mind. This is a cool car but GaspumpChas is right. Come up here to Wa. find ya a frame in good shape. I had a 56 2dr. post black and white with that thick plastic still on the seats. Ever ride around in the summer with seats like that ? It sure kept the seats nice but oh man talk about sweat ! I ripped the plastic off and the seats were just like new. Anyway it had a 235 with the 3spd overdrive. I bought it from a nurse who just retired. She got it new. Told me she lived alone never married. She was probably a lesbian but I didn’t think about stuff like that very much in those days. Gave her $600 bucks for the car. She was a nice lady gave me coffee while I counted out the $. It had 4-11 gears I jacked it up and counted the turns. The 235 6cyl. has good low end and it went real good with the overdrive set up. I babyed it and a year or so later put a 283 with 194 heads and a carter AFB in it. 4sps were not that easy to come by at the time. So I left the 3sp overdrive in it . It really hauled the mail then. kept it for quite awhile. BTW John your right I’d like to see that too. Later JIMMY

    Like 1
  18. Jim Lee

    That was my wife’s car when we were dating in 1971. Except it had a bench seat. I could never drive the dang thing. One time we were parking down on the river with the radio on and wore the battery down trying to start it. I pushed it and my wife popped the clutch as the front wheels went in the water. She drove it home. This was 1971. We’re still married. Traded car in for 1973 Chevelle Deluxe which was a good car but big doors!

    Like 1
  19. DN

    Of course Chevrolet sold a record number in ‘65- Just look at the flat-faced eyesore from the previous year. I would imagine many were promptly traded in!

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