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64 Malibu SS Convertible
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I am new to the forum and I wanted to dive right in and tell the story of how I got here and my Chevelle journey.

I purchased my first 1964 Chevelle back in the summer of 1986. For those of you who remember, when looking for used cars, we used to use a weekly news publication called the RECYCLER. It was a print version of Craigslist that came out every Wednesday in Los Angeles. My friends and I had managed to figure out that the Recycler was distributed through the San Fernando valley starting in North Hollywood, so we would drive to a specific 7-11 that got the papers first. We would skip right to the car parts and car sales section looking for deals and call at 5:30 / 6:00 in the morning. Many times, we were too late!

In the 1980’s, sixties muscle cars were just old cars. This was long before Year One was selling reproduction parts and if you wanted parts, you had to go to the junk yard, swap meets or find them in the Recycler. Restoring muscle cars wasn’t a thing yet, but we were buying original survivor cars, doing engine upgrades and racing them on the street.

At the time, I was at the end of high school and all my friends were driving Mustangs, Falcon’s, Chevelle’s ‘Cuda’s, Roadrunner’s and the like. I was driving a Baja Bug. It was my first car, a car my parents bought me. I needed an upgrade and that was going to come from the Recycler.

I was specifically looking for, in no particular order…1966/67 Chevelle's or 1966/67 GTO two doors and convertibles.

Now, back in the 1980’s, there we no ATM’s on every street corner. So, if you needed money, you actually had to go into the bank and make a withdrawal. It was very common, when purchasing a car (or anything that required allot of cash) to put a “deposit/down payment” on something and return with the rest of the money. What was NOT common was to just walk around with a wad of money in your pocket. So, since I was ready to make a purchase, I withdrew $500 and set to finding a car.

My total budget was only $1,500 and that put me at the lower end of the field, but that didn’t leave me out of the game. In 1986, you could still buy $500 cars. They wouldn’t be nice, they wouldn’t be SS’s and might have a few extra doors, but you could still get a running car.

The first car I found, that was in my budget and on my list was a 1967 GTO convertible. It was an unrestored survivor car, red with a black top, had a 72 Formula 455 engine, 4 speed manual transmission and posi. It was $1,500. I went for a test ride, fell in love with it and put my $500 deposit down. This was around 7am (I got the recycler early). I then had to wait for the banks to open. It was pretty standard at the time that leaving a deposit and a handshake was a binding gentleman’s agreement that was unbreakable. But when I returned with the rest of the money, the car was sold and I was handed my $500 back. I was told that the buyer paid more than the asking price. I was heartbroken, (I was also only 17yo at the time).

So, the search continued.

The summer days marched on and it seemed that the Recycler was drying up, at least for what I wanted. There were tons of cars. But I didn’t want to drive something one of my friends was driving. At this point, none of my buddies was driving a duplicate. I didn’t want to be a copycat and drive a 70 Malibu like my buddy, but I had limited choices.

The 1964 Chevelle was NEVER on my list. They never left the factory with anything bigger than a 327, most were 283’s with 2 speed’s and they looked like something my grandmother would drive to go get denture cream. But there was one ad that had been in the Recycler week after week and after having exhausted all other options and having looked at everything else, I thought I would give it a try. The biggest issue was, the car was listed for $3,500.

I called on the ad, my buddy drove me over to have a look, THIS TIME WITH ALL MY MONEY IN POCKET, even though I knew I was more or less wasting the seller’s time.

I still remember when we rolled up to the house. The car was in a wet driveway looking like a swimsuit model that had just emerged from the ocean. The seller, expecting our arrival had just washed and dried the car and she was GLORIOUS.
I must remind you; this was a time before people were restoring these cars and 99.9% of classic cars were simply 25-year-old gas guzzlers. But this car was something else entirely.

The seller had owned the car since high school himself, having recently graduated from college, he had painstakingly searched junkyards and swap meets to find the best bits of chrome, the best interior trim and the best hubcaps. She was repainted pure snow white (not factory Ermine white). She had silver blue interior and the dashboard and door tops were painted to exactly match the upholstery. Inside and out was immaculate.

As I shook the seller’s hand I told him straight away, “I have to tell you, I don’t want to waste your time, but I only have $1,500, I’m sorry” and to my utter shock he said, “listen, take her for a spin and we’ll talk”. My heart began to soar.

Built at the Van Nuys plant only 5 miles away, this 1964 was a true Super Sport, 220hp 283cid, powerglide with air conditioning. She drove very nice, but wasn’t fast and did have a little bit of a smoking issue out both pipes.

The seller told me he had painstakingly restored the car all through high school and college, but he had been storing the car (here) at his parent’s house and he was moving out into an apartment and could not take it with him. He told me the entire driveline was original and needed to be rebuilt and that he would let it go for $1,500, as it had been for sale for some time, but it had to go.

Without hesitation, I handed him the money.

Over the next few years, I rebuilt the 283, swapped the 308-rear axle for a 355 posi, rebuilt the front suspension and brakes, lowered the car, had the original 14” steel wheels cut and widened so I could fit fatties all the way around and still put the hubcaps on it (it had 1964 Impala SS spinner hubcaps).

But that’s not the end of the story… Oh no, this is where things take a hard, sad turn. Do not continue reading of you have a weak stomach.

LITERALLY, the day I turned my final wrench, the day I said to myself “My car is finally done…” this happened…

A buddy of mine and I had met some girls that agreed to go out with us on a double date. We were all going to meet up at a view point overlooking the city in a dirt lot at sundown. The girls were driving a red 1971 El Camino, us in my Chevelle.

While we were enjoying the view, a few other cars started to arrive in the parking lot. After some time, it added up to around 8-10 people, mostly guys. They were drinking and raising hell, as you do, when one of them walked over and demanded we turn down our car stereo. I wasn’t looking for trouble, so I obliged, but a few moments later one of the worst experiences of my life took place.

While we sat leaning against the front of our cars chatting with the girls, we started being bombarded with beer bottles. They rained down on my car like hail and I told everyone to “Get out of here”. The girls, who were parked opposite the trouble makers (my car being between) jumped in the El Camino, my buddy and I in my Chevelle and as I fired it up and was pulling the shifter into reverse, the driver’s door was yanked open. In a panic I stabbed the throttle, tearing blindly backwards, dragging whoever was opening my door with me. Not knowing where I was going and, in the dark, I drove straight back into a ditch. By then the hooligans had reached my car, pulling the drivers door open and then forcing it backwards repeatedly until they ripped it off it’s hinges. They clawed at me like zombies, doing their best to pull me from the car. I hung on to the shifter and steering wheel with all my strength, ultimately bending the shifter, console, steering wheel and steering column, but they eventually got me out of the car where they savagely beat and kicked me until they tired. I was a mess. But my poor Chevelle really took the brunt. They had stomped in the roof, hood and trunk. Pulled at the quarter window glass trying to break it, but only managed to pull the glass out of their tracks.

As they laughed with exhaustion, I eventually made it to my feet. My buddy managed to escape and jump into the bed of the El Camino and fled with the girls. I climbed into my still running car, still in reverse and resting in the ditch, I put it in drive and drove out. My buddy and the girls returned a few minutes later and somehow retrieved the driver’s door.

I was frantic driving down the mountain. Thoughts of turning around, driving back up and driving through the crowd in a murderous rage flooded my mind. I was an hour from home and decided to B line it there, it was after midnight when, on the empty streets I saw a police car heading towards me. I flashed my headlights erratically. They drove right past me. So, I flipped a hard U-turn, lit up the tires and chased them down, still flashing my headlights. I literally had to pull up next to them honking my horn to get them to stop.

I was a gruesome bloody mess, no driver’s door, face swollen and the first response from the police was LAUGHTER! They thought it was hilarious that I didn’t have a driver’s door. I explained what happened and begged them to follow me up to the view point, which they reluctantly did. When we got up there, all those idiots were still there. I thought “Now they are gonna get it!”. But in the end, the police only took names and numbers. No arrests.

Over the next year I tried to get compensation for what had happened, a few of the a’holes involved did appear in court on my complaint, but an older female public defender representing the guilty parties made a mockery of me in open court when I presented receipts for how much money had been spent restoring the car, including a receipt for a $1,200 paintjob. She stated that I was “Foolish” to have spent that kind of money on an “old car” to which she received a court room of laughter.

In the end, I received ZERO compensation. The car was a total loss. No insurance payout. NOTHING!

That was in 1989. I have spent the last 30+ years dreaming of that car. Always wondering what could have been.

Now, at 53 years old, I made it my mission to replace that car and that is where the journey restarts.

In June of 2021, I purchased another 1964 Chevelle and she is a dream car. A true SS, this time a convertible, blue with all the factory chrome and a 600hp LSX-454 under the hood. The story of this car is being written right now and I am documenting it on my YouTube channel, OPEN ROADER GARAGE and plan to share it with all of you here, on this forum.


More to come, the journey continues…PEACE!
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