Driver's Impression - On the Autocross Course This wagon performed exactly what we've come to expect from Hotchkis Sport Suspensions and was a total blast to drive. Even with OEM (read: very slow) ratio steering, navigating the autocross course was quite manageable. This nimble wagon also drove "small," which made threading the cones much easier. As for the brakes, well ... the Chevelle had the best brakes of all the cars I tested that day. These stoppers worked perfectly for the weight and balance of this car; they were confirmed, consistent, and complimented the suspension quite well.
I used the weight of this car for an advantage on corner entry and had much fun throwing it through the gates, then catching it at the apex and hammering the accelerator pedal to motor on down the course. The initial offset slalom posed no problems for the Chevelle grocery getter and I got great turn-in and smooth transfer back to power entering the crossover. After the offsets that approach the end sweeper, applying the brakes smoothly and uneventfully slowed the car allowing me to get over the hump and transition back to throttle a lot sooner than almost any other tested car. Back across the course to the power section found a light engine ping but this was momentary. Can this unassuming, tan wagon handle this job? A definite vote of "yes" from me.
What I particularly like about the Hotchkis suspensions is the predictability. I often tell people that there are no surprises; a Hotchkis car will come around on Tuesday but pre-warn you Sunday. I was able to plan and control my track line placement, and found the car very neutral and well-balanced. You'd never expect a grocery getter to get an "A" for my part of this automotive flog fest but this one sure did! Like its older sister, the Newman Car Creations 210 Wagon, I loved every minute spent behind the wheel. -Mary Pozzi
Driver's Impression - On the Street What is it with the Suspension & Handling Challenge contestants and station wagons (Newman Car Creations brought a '57)? Or should I ask, what's with the tan '65 Chevelles, as DSE had one too? Either way, we had a blast driving them all. Who knew a plain-Jane '65 wagon could be so much fun or so nice to drive?
This entry got top marks in the comfort category. Tilt wheel, power windows, and custom-stitched bucket seats got my attention at first, as they were somewhat unexpected, but it was the ride quality that left a lasting impression. Simply put, it was outstanding. Maybe it was heavier than a Chevelle hardtop or sedan, but we wrote in the test log, "BMW ride quality. It doesn't float. It just soaks up the bumps." It's hard to fathom that a 45-year-old car with large 18-inch/35-series rolling stock could deliver such an impressive combination of ride/handling.
Also getting good grades were the Baer brakes, which had very reassuring pedal feel. Hit the whoa pedal and the long A-body stopped quickly and straight.
There was a big numb spot on center with the steering, but other than this it delivered good feel on the road. - Jim Campisano
Hotchkis Sport Suspension '65 Chevelle Wagon Specs Engine Type: Gen I ZZ383 small-block Block: GM Fuel Delivery: Barry Grant Speed Demon 750 carb
Drivetrain Transmission: Bowtie Overdrives built 700R-4 Rearend: 9-inch style with 3.25 gears and limited Slip