As most of you know, I have some history with the 1965 full-sized Chevrolet. Back in 1990, when I bought mine, these cars were still very common in high-turnover wrecking yards; this was the result of high production (in fact, more 1965 full-sized Chevrolets were built than any other single year/model of American car in history) and low scrap value. Today, however, shredders that turn scrap cars into quick cash (I recommend this book to anyone curious about the recent technological advances in the scrap-metal field) mean that beat-up old Detroit heaps that aren’t worth restoring get funneled right into The Crusher‘s voracious maw. I find the occasional 60s full-size Chevy in wrecking yards these days, but 25 years ago they were as common as are Chrysler LHs today. That makes today’s find, a rust-and-Bondo-nightmare ’65 Bel Air coupe, even more special.
I found evidence of several distinct applications of body filler on this car. It’s like counting tree rings.
Because these cars all leaked around the rear window and trunk weatherstripping and the water ends up pooling here, even the ones from dry Western states rust like this. My ’65 sedan spent lived most of its life in Southern California and had similar rot.
Just for fun, I decoded the cowl tag. This car was built in the Janesville, Wisconsin plant in the second week of March 1965 (which happens to be the same week the first large contingent of American combat troops arrived in Vietnam). The paint color was Madeira Maroon Metallic, the interior was Fawn cloth and vinyl, and the car came with tinted glass, Powerglide transmission, and padded dash.
The sticker on the inside of the glovebox door indicates that the car was sold by George Irvin Chevrolet in Denver. A little research shows that this dealership— which still used alphanumeric phone numbers after all-numeric dialing became standard— was located at East Colfax and Gaylord, which is just a few miles from the wrecking yard in which I photographed this ’65. The great circle of automotive life, nearly complete.
The fenders came from some other ’65 or ’66 full-size Chevrolet, but chances are this car was built with a 283-cubic-inch small-block anyway.
A really resourceful Junkyard Finder would have scraped the yuck from this engine and obtained some block and head casting numbers. It’s a 283 or a 327 if it’s original… which it probably isn’t
Rather than research the 197 trillionth small-block Chevy engine built, however, I became much more interested in what was in the trunk.
Denver newspapers from 1982! Poor Marty Feldman— he died so young.
Meanwhile, the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union was brewing in Poland.
However, the Cold War was getting scarier and scarier during its final decade. Those MX missiles loomed large when Able Archer 83 freaked out Brezhnev’s equally doddering successor.
Mitsubishi started selling trucks under its own name (instead of with Dodge badging) in the United States in 1982.
So, our car-trunk history lesson tells us that this car got parked for the last time in the early 1980s, then sat outdoors in Colorado for the next few decades before getting sold for scrap.
That optional padded dash doesn’t look so great after 32 years at 5,280 feet.
Two-door big Chevrolets are cool, but you’d end up paying ten grand to make this one worth maybe four grand. A factory 409 or 396 ’65 Impala two-door with some weird options, sure, that’s worth restoring from basket-case condition. This car… well, let’s hope its few remaining usable parts get grabbed before it gets crushed.
This swift, silent, jet-smooth Chevrolet spreads whole mountains, meadows, vales, and streams before enchanted eyes. There’s no way some spacy-ass commercial like this would get by GM’s marketers today, because they know that Americans hit ‘em hard!