This is the rarest, most significant Chevelle in existence. It is one of the most historically significant Chevrolets, one of the most important muscle cars, and a milestone among automobiles.

#1 Z16 Chevelle Malibu SS396

 Engineering Prototype


Documented and accepted as the first Z16 built.
Only 200 Z16’s followed.


The Z16 was used to introduce the new 396 engine.
This Z16 is the pilot car built by Chevrolet Engineering!!


The first SS396 Chevelle. This is THE Chevelle that spawned ALL SS396 and SS454 Chevelles that followed. L78, LS6 -
they all started with THIS car.


All factory Mark IV big block Corvettes, Camaros, Novas, Impalas likely followed this car.  None known have an earlier build date. 

In late December, 1964, a Malibu SS rolled off the assembly line at Chevrolet’s Baltimore, Maryland assembly plant. It was a nice SS and loaded with options, but really not that special: Regal Red with a black vinyl top and black interior and options were power steering, power brakes, power windows, tilt wheel, AM-FM radio, two speed wipers ……..and a 300hp 327 with a four speed trans. It is probably not a coincidence that the car was equipped this way. According to former 1960’s Chevrolet Engineering employee Art Armstrong, Engineering specified the equipment they wanted and the car was ordered by D.H. McPherson or a subordinate to have as many options and details as near their specifications for the Z16 as possible.


Upon completion the third week of December at the Baltimore plant, instead of the normal shipment to a dealer, this car was immediately shipped to the Chevrolet Engineering Tech Center in Detroit, Michigan where it arrived by December 21, 1964. The Engineering Center then began the task of converting this car into the first Z16. Many of the unique Z16 parts were, of course, not yet in production, so many of them were hand built and fitted. Apparently, once the prototype parts were deemed satisfactory, they were approved for production.


D.H. McPherson was the executive in charge of the project and reportedly drove this prototype for some months after it was built. Art Armstrong believes it very likely the car saw time at the Milford Proving Ground (Chevrolet’s test track and facility near Detroit) as was common with pilot cars and test mules. The official assignment of the car to the Engineering Center was for an “experimental check”. It was sold by Engineering (through a dealer) in February 1966.


Chevrolet General Manager “Bunkie” Knudsen, introduced the Z16 at Chevrolet’s Desert Proving Ground in Arizona in February or March, 1965. An article in the May, 1965 issue of Mechanix Illustrated confirms this. The first known Kansas City built production Z16 was built in late February, 1965, so it stands to reason that the two prototype pilot cars were two of the cars at the introduction.


While the #1 Z16 appears like all other “normal” Z16s at first glance, there are a great many small details that the Chevrolet enthusiast will pick up on. “Sample”, “Experimental” and vendor tags and markings on many parts make the #1 Z16 not only unlike any other Z16, but a true one-of-a-kind car!



The #1 Z16 was a very unmolested car prior to being restored in 1989. The original, untouched interior was intact.  The engine had never been out, and all sheetmetal - except for a strip at the leading edge of the roof where it had rusted under the vinyl top - is original.


This car has been owned by noted Z16 collectors Chris Daniels and Terry Gunter (each have owned nine Z16’s, with Chris restoring many himself).  Floyd Garrett purchased the car in 1989 and hired Doug Garrett (no relation) to restore it.   Dave Miner later owned the car, along with three other Red Z16’s.

#1 Z16



Chevelle Report



Information presented is believed true by the author (Dave Miner) and every effort has been made to verify the facts. Information is offered with no absolute guarantee of
accuracy.  Errors and omissions, though unintentional, may occur as I am human. It is called CHRISTmas for a reason!



#1 Z16 Chevelle in other publications

More information on this #1 Z16 on the pages below!


Scroll down this and each page for many photos!

#1 Z16 Chevelle

Original Owner and Photos!!!


#1 Z16 Chevelle

#1 Z16 -  Other Old Photos

#1 Z16 Special Parts