Was The ’64 Chevelle The New ’55 Chevy?

Recently we came across this article on MacsMotorCityGarage.com where they were comparing a few striking similarities between the 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle and the 1955 Chevy platforms. Perhaps General Motors was trying to recreate the magic and success of the 1955 Chevy’s when they launched the new A-Body platform. Read for yourself and see what you think!

When the 1964 Chevelle was formally introduced to the motoring press in August of 1963, writers were immediately reminded of another Chevrolet of the not-too-distant past: the beloved ’55 Chevy from nine years earlier. Indeed, the similarities were striking.

The two cars share an identical 115-in wheelbase, and they are within but an inch or two in overall length, too. Both cars used similar body-on-frame construction, weighed in at around 3000-3200 lbs, and were powered by the familiar assortment of Chevy 6 and small-block V8 engines. And so on. The two Chevys are enough alike, in fact, that it was suggested that the ’55 Chevy must have served as a model or benchmark in the development of the Chevelle, and that notion has persisted to the present day.

It’s not quite true, of course. The Chevelle was based on a General Motors corporate platform that was designed for the use of four GM car divisions. This intermediate-sized A-body package, which began development early in 1962, gave Buick, Olds, and Pontiac a replacement for their ’61-63 senior compacts (see our feature here) and it gave Chevy a product to fill a significant gap between the compact Chevy II and fhe full-size Biscayne, Bel Air, and Impala.

As the full-size Chevrolet grew in size and price in the ’60s, beyond its original base, some traditional bow-tie customers were being left behind. The new Chevelle, with its ’55 Chevy-esque proportions and prices starting in the $2300 range, was sized just right for these buyers, and it was priced right too. Sales took off, sending the production volume past 338,000 cars the first year.

The well-equipped Malibu was the best-selling model at nearly 150,000 units, while the sporty Malibu SS with bucket seats, floor shifter, and special trim sold another 76,000 copies. Chevrolet division had another winner on its hands, and this same basic package with annual sheet-metal changes would be offered through 1972, when GM’s A-body Colonnade series arrived.