The Chevrolet Chevelle made its debut in 1964 as a mid-size coupe meant to compete with the Ford Fairlane. Chevrolet hoped it would be as popular with families as the Bel Air was in the late 1950s. The Chevelle came in a wide range of body types: two-door coupes, pillared two-door sedans, four-door sedans, pillarless four-door hardtops, and convertibles. It was also offered with a choice of 11 engines, from the base inline six-cylinder engine to a V-8 with 396 cid.
Among all these choices, the luxury line was dubbed Chevelle Malibu, which could be purchased as convertibles with six-cylinder or V-8 engines. High-performance Chevelles, denoted with the letters SS (for Super Sport), represented Chevy’s early entry into the muscle car race, led by the Ford Mustang. The Chevelle Malibu SS396 might be the best of all worlds: It could be purchased as a turbocharged convertible with bucket seats.
The El Camino, a hybrid of a car and pickup truck called a coupe utility, was made based on the Chevelle body starting in 1964, and was sold as a muscle car. The El Camino had Deluxe, Malibu, SS, and SS396 editions.
For model year 1966, the Chevelle got the famous curvy “Coke bottle” body styling that was so popular. But the second generation was not introduced until 1968, when the Chevelle was completely redesigned with a long hood and short deck with “kick-up” in the back.
In 1969, former race car driver Don Yenko created his own trademark line of Chevelles, Camaros, and Novas. His limited-edition Chevelles are particularly popular with collectors, as they have the most powerful engines installed in a mid-size car at the time, a 427 cid V-8.
Chevelle got its most extensive redesign in 1973, when Chevy introduced the boxy “Colonnade Hardtop” intended to comply with new federal safety regulations protecting passengers from injury in roll-overs. The Chevelle name was discontinued in 1977, and the following year, the all the cars in the line were sold under the Chevy Malibu moniker.