Big Block Barn Find: 1965 Chevrolet Impala 396

Knowing a car’s history and moreover, its “story” means the world to people buying cars to enjoy. Many “flippers” don’t want to ask too many questions so they can maintain plausible deniability about accidents, non-original parts, or what took it off the roadway back when. This one-owner 1966 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe in Waycross, Georgia is not an original SS or “Super Sport” model for one reason only, and the story gets better from there. The listing here on eBay includes a number of interesting details. At the time of publication, this barn-bound Chevy has attracted one bid of $8,500, but it will definitely go higher.

This is not the usual interior shot we would expect! Where are the Flintstone Floorboards, the wires hanging from under the dashboard, and the sorry excuse for carpeting and upholstery? Instead this looks like a car that’s covered the claimed 81,568 miles while receiving excellent care.

Tip your hat to the seller (technically the second owner) who documented the “as-found” condition then cleaned up the car to help bring the best value. Back to our “Day Two” story:¬† the original owner wanted an SS, but had to have a bench seat, so he worked with the dealer to order this Sport Coupe with the 396 and TH 400 three-speed automatic transmission, along with dual exhaust and a sturdy 12-bolt rear end. Bow-Tie experts will notice the SS hub caps installed by the dealer before the first owner took delivery.

This highly original-looking 396 nearly topped the engine options for ’65, the first year of this Mark IV big block. I’m guessing this is the 325 HP version, not the solid-lifter 375 HP version. Thanks to chevyhardcore.com for some details. Sadly the motor appears to be “stuck” and will need more than a new battery and some starting fluid. It deserves a complete tear-down, even if no paint is applied during the rebuilding process.

Opinions vary on these “Day 2” modifications, the type done by owners very early in the car’s life. Shame on anyone who would say this car should wear non-SS hub caps after hearing this car’s story. Hopefully, the new owner will consider an overhaul of safety items and minimal refurbishment. Once restored it will just be another perfect ’65. Why not drive and enjoy as-is, at least for a while? How would you treat it?

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Comments

  1. local_sheriff

    At current point it’s in a condition where the next owner should focus on its mechanicals, then after engine is spinning freely and brakes are safe it can be enjoyed for a while. The rust present under the trunk lid and undercarriage should be kept under control though.

    Further pics and inspection of its floors, trunk and chassis mounts would be mandatory before I’d throw any $ in the seller’s direction. Could possibly be a very interesting barn find; best of luck to the next owner!

    7
  2. Chuck

    I had SS wheel covers on my 65 Impala convertible, non SS, and did not think I was guilty of some unwritten car guy law.

    19
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Good one Chuck, breaking the law. I am with you. Kind of confused on the payments in the last photo? With the BB not a problem with the SS caps. Or a 327ci. The caps look good.

      3
  3. 36Packard

    Dusty but nice.

  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    It’s an owners choice on hubcaps or anything else on a vehicle. IMO rebuild the engine, fix anything else that needs work and upgrade at least the front brakes to disk and you can drive it. Pretty much everything else can be done as time and money permits.

    7
    • Gordon

      I had a 67 Malibu that was a 283 4sp with bucket seats and a console and it came from the dealer with SS hupcaps. I don’t see any reason why they would have changed them so I always assumed that’s how it was delivered from the factory.

      4
      • 86_Vette_Convertible

        If the hubcaps were like the ones on this 65, pretty sure they weren’t OEM. I bought a 67 Malibu new and from what I remember you had 2 wheel/hub cap options only and SS hubcaps weren’t an option. You had the option of dog dish’s and disc brake wheel/cover options and that was it as far as I remember.

        1
      • local_sheriff

        While I don’t know of all wheel covers/hubcaps available for ’67, I do know that wire wheel covers were a dealer installed option for ’64-65 Chevrolets and some buyers preferred them, even on their SS cars.
        It isn’t impossible that some dealers would have some SS covers laying around and would slab them on an already well-optioned non-SS vehicle to make it look better on the lot

        4
    • Troy s

      If someone wanted SS wheels on their shiny new car all the power to them. That’s not even day 2 stuff really. If they could get the dealer to install mags or whatever, heck, it was all about enjoying the new purchase. After all, it was going to be driven, not judged.
      The 396 was what you got if you needed extra oomph for hauling boats or trailers, effortless highway driving up grades, or maybe it just made sense. No different than what the other GM guys were doing, Ford and Chrysler same offerings. The fact it’s a Mark IV big block, an engine that has earned legendary status over the years, gives some folks the false impression they were all high winding competition engines. Not all of ’em. Just a nice full sized car with great curves.

      7
    • Ross

      The spinner cap came with 2 choices. 1 being the SS for the Super Sport. The other was the Chevy Blue Bow tie. Chevy had a plain hub cap for the 65 Chevy impala. They also had a Spinner Cap.

      1
  5. CCFisher

    I understand the original owner’s rationale for the SS wheel covers, but today, being a “plain” Impala with a 396 makes it more interesting than an SS in my eyes, so I would go back to the original wheel covers. All the better if it was originally equipped with dog-dish hubcaps.

    3
  6. TimM

    SS or not it’s a great looking car with clean interior and a big block!! Maybe the price point won’t go through the roof being the SS emblems aren’t present!!!

    4
  7. On and On On and On Member

    Always thought a 65 was the best looking Chevrolet. So well balanced. Had a 2 door 65 Biscayne I bought for $100 in 1971. Had a leaking rear main seal. 6-stick.

    5
    • bog

      On and On – LOL ! I bought a two door ’63 Biscayne that also cost me $ 100.00. In 1982 !!! Also a big straight 6 with 3 speed on column. Drive-train perfect. Huge hole in drivers spot that two large towels stuffed in there fixed quite well. Then sheepskin over entire front bench. All the body work had been done and it was sprayed flat black. Dog dish hubcaps. Tires were horrible and had to replace 3 due to flats within a month of purchase. LOL ! They cost more than car, as I replaced spare too…just in case. I named it “The Lumbering Behemoth” ! Great for a Chicago “sport” we called “Snowbanking”…..

      • On and On On and On Member

        Hey bog, mine was in Chicago too, NW side up by Taft HS. I worked at Mitch’s Texaco at the time. Northwest Hwy and Nagle.

        1
    • bog

      On and On – I know exactly where you were. I lived in the “Bowmanville” neighborhood, next to Rosehill Cemetery. Sold it to the guy I rented my house from, as he owned a repair shop and had plenty of Chevy customers. Never told him how little I paid for it. LOL. Then I bought a brand new ’83 Mazda RX7…cash. He was really surprised to see me drive that home !

      • On and On On and On Member

        Get This, I traded mine in for a 73 Gremlin I ordered new. Had everything H.D. added to a basic model 232 6 with a 3 speed. HD radiator, shocks, springs, heater, larger tires and rims anything I could add for cheap. Was a goofy looking thing, but I liked it. Got 20mpg too. Unfortunately I was driving home from Evanston one night west on Oakton and some guy hits me from behind doing 60-65 out of nowhere………Totaled. After that his insurance bought me a 73 Capri……….loved that one.

        1
  8. Karlos

    I LIKE the car! Always amazed me that GM would use such a small air intake on the air filter to supply the big engine. Fine on a 283, but a 396? Leaves me gasping for breath, just to think about it.

    2
  9. rpol35

    Indeed, the “6437” portion of the VIN indicates this to be a V8 equipped Impala two door, not an Impala SS (Impala SS models had their own unique model number between ’64 & ’67; in ’68 the SS option became just that, an option and no longer a separate model with an identifying VIN).

    The most powerful engine offered, originally, in the ’65 Impala was the 400 HP 409 CI. At the end of January ’65, the 409 was replaced with two flavors of the new Mark IV 396, CI, 325 HP and 425 HP; the 375 HP (L37) never made it to the full-size car. Along with the 325 HP 396 engine came the new Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission as an option (not available on the 425 HP version). The 396 425 HP engine was replaced in ’66 with the new 427 CI, 425 HP engine. Rare to see a ’65 with a column shift and a T-400 transmission.

    As an aside, I believe in 1967, one could order the “strato-bench seat” option in the Impala SS.

    4
  10. Gray Wolf

    I have a ’66 Impala S/W with a 396, 400 trans and 12 bolt. Thought about making it an SS, but I am having so much fun shocking people as I blow by them! Big Block+Big Car=Fun!

    1
  11. Del

    I find it strange that a non runner would be bid this high.

    In my opinion this unit is not worth 2 grand

  12. Roy Blankenship

    If I were a younger man, I would buy this car in a minute! My first car back in 1970 was a ’66 Caprice with this engine/transmission combination, 2.73 open rear end. I took it to the track and it ran 15.30’s on 8.25 x 14 Hercules whitewall tires. Later, with Thrush mufflers and G70 Polyglas tires, it ran 14.9’s at an NHRA track. These are real sleepers, if you open the mammoth secondaries on the Q-Jet when you launch, it bogs, chirps the tires, but you are off while the other guy is frying his tires and never catches you. I won a lot of money on the street with that car, it would go through the traps in second. The Turbo 400 will bang shift if you start in L1, shift to L2, and then pull it back into L1. I used that method to keep it in the horsepower band. It will shift eventually if you hold it in L1, but you are out of breath by then. Fun facts to know and tell….

    3

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