Front fender emblem for 1965 Malibu SS 396 Z16.
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The Z16 Malibu SS. Option RPO Z16 was introduced mid-year, 1965, to give the public a preview of what was to come the following year. Adding RPO Z16 to the Malibu SS was the logical choice in which to introduce the new Mk IV big-block 396 V8. This special Malibu SS included a host of performance and comfort options packaged in a sporty two-door hardtop or convertible. Chevrolet had finally played their ace in the hole.
Chevrolet produced just 201 Malibus with the rare Z16 option; 200 hardtops and just one convertible. Most of the Malibu Z16's went to top GM executives and famous personalities such as the late Dan Blocker of TV's Bonanza fame.
A small number were shipped to dealerships and made their way into the hands of the general public. With RPO Z16, Chevrolet had laid the groundwork for the introduction of the 1966 Chevelle SS 396 as a stand-alone model.
(source: Chevell Fan )
The Malibu emblems reassigned to the front fenders behind the front wheel wells, the blackened out rear taillight panel and the front fender mounted 396 flag emblems as well as a rear trunk lid Malibu SS 396 emblem, the most significant designations of the Z-16, were subtle identifying cues to distinguish the Z-16 from other models in the Chevelle lineup.
Built on the Malibu SS model, the Z-16 was an impressive showcase of engineering ability. The car included a Muncie 4-speed transmission, slightly wider Firestone Gold-line tires, simulated mag wheel covers. To compensate for the heavier engine-bay-filling 396 V8, the car was built on a stronger convertible frame along with a brawnier suspension that included front and rear sway bars, heavy duty control arms, as well as mammoth 11-inch brakes and hydraulic power-assisted steering for more responsive handling.
New interior appointments were added including front and rear seatbelts with retractors, a wood grain steering wheel, a dash-mounted clock, a 160 mph speedometer and 6000 rpm tachometer and a multiplex AM/FM stereo system with underside dash mounted controls and more. All these features increased the base sticker price by more than half.
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