The compact Corvair with its rear-mounted aluminum engine was too revolutionary for most Americans and was criticized by Ralph Nader; but enthusiasts loved it. Nineteen-sixty-five was a stellar year for Chevrolet, as sales topped the golden year of 1955. The full-size Chevrolet line was totally revamped, as was the sporty compact Corvair. Other models received trim changes, and the oneyear-old Chevelle received a front-end restyle.
Under the hood of all this new sheetmetal, the choices of powertrains had been proliferating at an amazing rate. Eight different engines, in a wide variety of outputs and tuning, gave an astounding array of choices. Just five years earlier, many makes offered no more than one choice in a car, and now it seemed every manufacturer wanted to let customers build their new cars the way they wanted them. Apparently thatis what the customer wanted, as sales for all makes soared to new heights.
The full-size Chevy line was one of the best looking since the mid-fifties. As with other GM big cars, the lines were smooth and flowing, devoid of excess chrome trim, and they were luxurious on the interior. They were also the largest Chevrolet models to date. However, the sporty and modern lines made them appear to be trimmer cars than their predecessors. All traditional Chevrolet styling cues, such as the round taillights, were in evidence. At mid-year a Caprice Custom option package was offered for the Impala 4-Door Hardtop. This was essentially a luxurious interior trim package designed to compete with the new Ford Galaxie 500 LTD. For 1966, the Caprice would become a regular model line.
Otherwise, the model line was the same as in 1964, as were the powertrain offerings. Mid-size Chevelle models received a new grille and rear end treatment. The 300 line added a new 300 Deluxe that included a 2-and 4-Door Sedan, plus the 4-Door Wagon from the prior year's 300 line. The Malibu and Malibu SS lines were the same as last season. The sporty Corvair received its only major styling change of its lifespan for the 1965 model year. The squarish lines of the original Corvair were now rounded, and all body styles were of a hardtop design. This was a sure sign that Chevrolet intended for the Corvair image to be sporty and not economical. Overall styling was very pleasing, even in the 4-Door Hardtop design. A new sports model was the Corsa, which was offered in 2-Door Hardtop or Convertible versions, powered by a 140-horsepower engine.
The rear-engined Corvair 95 wagon (i.e. van) was around for one final year. Sales of the newly introduced Chevy Van were eating away at the Corvair vans' market, and there was no need for Chevy to continue with two competing designs. The Chevy II and Corvette were both carry over designs, with only minor trim changes. The Chevy II Nova line dropped the 2-Door Sedan variant. Up front, the grille was cleaned up a bit to look more like its Chevrolet stablemates. Corvette models saw refinements in a new hood design, new grille and new sill moldings. Also redesigned were the instrument cluster and interior door trim.