MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of GM Media Archives, Travis Lipinski, Tom Sturm
Published 2.24.2021

1964 Chevelle Malibu GM Media Archives RESIZED1964 Chevelle Malibu (GM Media Archives)

Back in 1964, my uncle and I visited our local Chevrolet dealership in Detroit to purchase a new Chevelle model. I was there to see and go for a ride in a great new car. As a young kid, I remember sitting in the back seat and being amazingly comfortable with its quiet ride. I sniffed that new car smell that was always a special experience when buying a vehicle.

1964 was the best of times for purchasing a new car. General Motors had so many great looking vehicles to admire and enjoy during that model year. I remember the color on the 1964 Chevy Chevelle that my uncle bought was called Daytona Blue.

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle advertisement GM Media Archives RESIZED1964 Chevrolet Chevelle advertisement (GM Media Archives) 

The 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle were divided into two series. The 300 series offered the lower-priced models, and the popular Malibu series featured the more prestigious models. The Malibu became immensely popular among young drivers as hot rods.

General Motors hit a home run with the 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle. The sales leader that year was the Malibu four-door sedan model priced at $2,457. The Chevelle Malibu two-door hardtop series that my uncle bought was also popular.

Catalog of 1964 Chevelle models GM Media Archives RESIZEDCatalog of 1964 Chevelle models (GM Media Archives) 

In 1964, Chevrolet discontinued the convertible in the Chevy II line but replaced it with a great looking Chevelle convertible which sold for $2,695. The Chevelle Malibu four-door station wagon was available as a nine-passenger or six-passenger model. When Chevrolet introduced the new Chevelle, it was a vehicle marketed to fit between the compact Chevy II Nova and the full-size models, so some dubbed the Chevelle a “senior compact.”

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible GM Media Archives RESIZED1964 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible (GM Media Archives)

The 1964 Chevelle models were assembled at plants in Baltimore, Kansas City and a new factory in Fremont, California. They offered that squared-look design that many consumers enjoyed. The Chevelle also offered many great options to choose, including air conditioning, a rear armrest, a pair of front seat belts, heavy-duty brakes, tinted glass, rear bumper guards and many other accessories. The standard Chevelle engine was the popular 194-cubic inch six cylinder also found on the Chevy II Nova line, or drivers could choose the 283 cubic inch V-8 with 195 horsepower.

1964 Chevelle with other models being tested in Fremont GM Media Archives1964 Chevelle with other models being tested in Fremont (GM Media Archives) 

The Chevelle models were designed and developed to compete against Ford’s popular Fairlane models. Some automotive historians called the Chevelle models “conventional,” however, they became a sales leader for General Motors in 1964.

1964 Chevelle models on the assembly line GM Media Archives1964 Chevelle models on the assembly line (GM Media Archives) 

Production of the new 1964 Chevelle models came in at 328,400 units. The full-size Chevrolet models were also great sellers that year, however the Corvair’s production had tumbled to 191,915 units. The Chevelle continued to be popular throughout its production run from 1964 to 1977. Some automotive journalists called the new 1964 Chevelle models, “New style, new size, new spirit, and new car.”

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle 300 Travis Lipinski1964 Chevrolet Chevelle 300 (Travis Lipinski)

Finally, I should also mention that the Chevelle models created a huge interest among muscle car fans and American hot rodders. For example, Tom Sturm’s 1964 Chevy Chevelle was a great looking hot rod admired by many fans all over the world.

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle hot rod Tom Sturm RESIZED1964 Chevrolet Chevelle hot rod driven by Tom Sturm

During the 1960s, many muscle car owners competed with other racing fans across the country. Today, the 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle models remain a great example of our excellence in automotive design.

Bibliography

Dammann, George H. “Sixty Years of Chevrolet.” Crestline Publishing, 1972.

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Corvair Chevy II Corvette Engineering Features, Chevrolet Engineering Center, General Motors Corporation.

Kowalke, Ron. “Standard Catalog of Chevrolet 1912-1998.” Second Edition.

Rupp, Steven. “This Vintage 1964 Chevelle was one of the first with big block.” Hot Rod, September 17, 2020.