When Tim Hunke graduated from high school in Detroit in July of 1965, he went right to work. The Chevrolet Engineering Center hired Tim as an Apprentice Wood Model Maker. After diligently saving his earnings and shortly after 1966 began, Tim saw a stunning Z16 Chevelle in the Paint Shop at Engineering receiving touch up work after over a year of knocking around the Tech Center. Inquiring at the Sales Department, young Mr. Hunke found out that indeed, the car was to be sold. He had to have it.


$2485.00 is the amount Tim remembers paying for a very special Z16 on about February 18, 1966. Delivery took place from Verhoven Chevrolet. Although he was aware of the special nature of the Z16 SS396 car, Tim didn’t realize until later just how special THIS particular Z16 was!

19 year old Tim Hunke in his just-purchased 1965 Chevelle Z16!        February, 1966 photo.

Being a proud, 19 year old owner of an almost-new Z16 Chevelle warranted a few photos within the first few moments of ownership. Tim’s father took some slides (right and above) that were made into prints. They are dated March, 1966 on the back.


The license plate (below right) is Michigan, 1966.


Note some of the background cars in these photos: 1957 Chevrolet, Nash Metropolitan, ‘63 Plymouth, and a brand new ‘66 Riviera backing out of the driveway across the street.


This #1 Z16, as evidenced by the photos, never had bumper guards. They were an option (but not required) on all other Z16s. It did receive new redline tires when it left Chevrolet Engineering to replace the worn original tires. Since the 14” goldlines all Z16s came with were only used on those 201 cars, a set couldn’t be found in February of 1966.

As many car stories go, a girl becomes involved. In this case, Tim met Karen and they made future plans. Unfortunately, the Z16 Malibu SS wasn’t in those plans (buying a house was), so Tim sold the car in October, 1966—but with a stipulation: If the buyer was going to sell the car, Tim was to get the opportunity to buy it back. And buy it back he did in 1969.


Since several years had passed, the paint had deteriorated and was checking (presumably from excess thickness: Engineering had painted the entire car after converting it to the prototype Z16 and had touched it up or possibly painted it a third time). Tim stripped the car and resprayed it in his garage with the correct Regal Red lacquer. To jazz it up a bit, he added a black stripe the length of the car at the top of the fenders, doors and quarters. Also added were Astro chrome steel slot mags, and air shocks. Not to leave anything to waste, Tim installed the Z16’s mag wheel covers on their other car - a ‘61 Dodge - for a time.

The smooth lines of the Prototype Z16 are very evident in this Summer, 1966 photo (left).


Of particular non-automotive interest is the tot on the trike blazing down the sidewalk across the street . She moves at such speed so as to blur her image!

Tim Hunke at work on the Prototype Z16 in Summer, 1969 shortly after he bought it back (above left). The Astro mags (left) came before Tim got around to painting the black stripe.


And meet Karen Hunke. Here is the young couple on vacation in the Summer of 1970. Note Tim has repainted the car and added the black stripe visible here on top of the left quarter (above right).

A fantastic photo of the Z16 (above) was taken in the Summer of 1972 with Karen and their two year old daughter (and dog!). This scene is at their country acreage retreat and could easily be a Chevrolet ad of the era! See the USA, in your Chevrolet……...


The Prototype Z16 never had a hitch, so pulling the camper was out of the question. It is shown here shortly before the Hunkes sold it for the 2nd and last time. Note the black stripe along the top of the fender, door and quarter. This is how the car appeared in the next owner’s photos circa 1973.

A great debt of gratitude is owed Tim and Karen Hunke for their willingness to share photos and stories of one of the world’s most important musclecars. They have fond memories of it.


One recollection Tim had was the AC Experimental Sample label on the air cleaner. He noticed it right away when he bought the car from Chevrolet Engineering in February of 1966, but thought nothing of it. Tim also remembers taking the Z16 to Verhoven Chevrolet for warranty work that first summer in 1966. While he was (and is) very particular about the appearance and care of his vehicles, Tim wasn’t afraid to let the Z16’s 375 horses loose. The M20 4 speed was rebuilt or replaced twice and the rear axle also received attention—all on Chevrolet’s nickel.


Tim retired from his General Motors employment in 1998. His last ID badge is shown at right.


A final note: In conversation, the Hunkes mentioned that they still had the original wheelcovers that came on the Z16! They agreed to sell them and Dave Miner has reinstalled them back where they belong!

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#1 Z16 Chevelle Malibu SS396



Original Owner

Mr. Tim Hunke







#1 Z16 Chevelle Original Owner

#1 Z16 Chevelle Pilot Car Prototype