25 March 2014

Car Stuff: Fantasy Garage #4

Just how large will my fantasy garage need to be? That's one of the many wonderful things about imagination: It doesn't know any boundaries, nor does it require any.

A lot of automotive historians point to the middle of the 1960s as a pivot point of sorts for the American automotive industry. Many argue that beyond 1965 the Big Three started to get a little too drunk on their own success, which led to complacency and stylistic overindulgence. Others suggest that the introduction in 1965 of the Ford LTD (and soon after, Chevrolet's hasty response, the Caprice, followed in '66 by Plymouth's VIP) initiated an upward climb of mainstream, lower-priced car brands that eventually caused a commoditizing of luxury, which had the (possibly?) unintended effect of cheapening true luxury cars and led to the decade referred to by some as the Brougham Era (not meant in a complimentary way).

For me, 1965 stands out because that's the year when Plymouth, Ford, and Chevrolet all had full lineups of full-size, compact, and mid-size offerings. The compacts—the Valiant, Falcon, and Corvair—had all arrived for 1960 (and after overestimating the public's desire for innovation, Chevrolet would course-correct by adding the more conventional Chevy II/Nova for '62). Ford was the first to fill the space between compacts and full-sizes with its Fairlane, also in '62. GM graduated its Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac "senior compacts" to mid-size status for '64 and added a Chevrolet variant, and Plymouth went the opposite way for '65 by adding larger-bodied cars above a refreshed version of its '63-'64 full-size Plymouth, which was already somewhat smaller than its competition and after losing a few inches in length became the '65 mid-size.
All of this is long-winded preamble to this week's fantasy garage choice: a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Super Sport like this one, but a convertible. It's actually difficult to choose just one car out of four years' worth (1964-'67 is considered the first generation of GM intermediates) of models from four brands; I'm also very partial to the '64 Olds Cutlass, the '67 Malibu, and the '66-'67 Pontiac LeMans. (Given what I wrote at the top of this post, maybe I'll come back and add another one later.)

(Above: 1965 Buick Skylark; 1964 Oldsmobile Vista-Cruiser; 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible.)

So why the Malibu SS? All four of the 1964 GM A-body intermediates were attractive designs that were simply styled and had a sense of rightness to their proportions that it seemed the full-size cars were already starting to abandon in pursuit of size as a marketing tool. I just find the Chevrolet version the most appealing, and I prefer the styling details like the grille and tail lights on the '65 to the '64.

Also, as you can see from the top picture above, the SS model has clean sides with no trim other than the molding around the wheel openings and along the bottom of the body side, which I think highlights its looks to best advantage and looks nicer than the side trim on other Chevelle models. And let's be honest: an SS would be worth more, especially with the bucket seats shown below and a console.
And there's one other reason. In 1965, for that one model year only, Chevrolet offered a color choice that is one of my all-time favorites. Called Evening Orchid, it was a metallic silvery purple that was not especially popular and is thus quite obscure, and in the Chevelle line it was only available on the Malibu SS, so of course my '65 would have to be that color. (Pontiac also offered the color for '65; their version was called Iris Mist.) You can see it in the catalog image above left, though this is an illustration and not a photo so it's appearance isn't as accurate. The white interior looked especially nice with the orchid exterior, so let's add that to my imaginary car.

Here's a photo I found via Google image search:
This appears to have been taken in low sun, so the full effect of the color isn't quite coming through. Let's try one more:
Much better, and both of them have the white interior. Cool wheel covers, too.

(Image credits, from top: #1, 4, and 5 were cropped from images on Old Car Brochures; #2 and 3 are from Classic Car Catalogue; #6 is from chevellestuff.net; #7 is from chevelles.com.)

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