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327-350 HP! 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS Garage Find

Here’s a pretty special find, a 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS. These have graced the pages of Barn Finds before but this example is harboring an original bearing, in spite of the fact that its best days, for now, look like they are behind it. This second vintage Chevrolet Nova (’66-’67) was popular in the early to mid-’70s and they are that much more so today. Let’s dig in here and see what this mid-’60s muscle car is all about. This Chevy is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $12,800, reserve not yet met.

The year 1966 was a crossroads for Chevrolet. It was all about horsepower in that halcyon year and GM’s number 1 sales division had a lot of the bases covered. The Impala SS had a 425 HP big-block engine available as full-size oomph was still in vogue, though starting to fade. The SS396 Chevelle came into its own ready-to-do battle with the corporate cousin, the Pontiac GTO. The Corvette, like the big car, had that same 427 CI  big-block engine but it was the ‘Vette and there was nothing else like it. The big hole in the line-up was the lack of a 2+2 pony car. Ford was firmly ensconced with its Mustang, now in its second (or third) model year and Chevrolet’s competitor, the Camaro, was still a model year away. And the Mustang was a sales monster; what to do? Someone at Chevrolet thought, “Here’s an idea, shove a 350 HP engine under the hood of a Nova, a car roughly the size of the Mustang, and nice looking to boot, and see what happens”. And that’s exactly what happened and what we have here is the result of that imagination, 55 years later.

The text, unfortunately, is light but the images are pretty descriptive so they’ll help with the deciphering. The seller claims that this Nova has been sitting since 1975 and the years have not been kind to any aspect of this car. The seller claims that this Chevrolet Nova was equipped with an RPO L79 350 gross HP, 327 CI V8 though the images of the engine are snippets of valve trains and not the entire engine. Legitimate? Having a heavy-duty twelve-bolt differential under the back end pretty well attests to that engine’s existence as lesser versions didn’t use it. And is typical with that motor, there is a four-speed manual transmission in place. Nova Resource claims that 5,481 Novas were so equipped in ’66, not rare but highly collectible today.

The exterior of this Nova is shaky. It’s a garage find but it has rust and scale in a lot of places. It’s not terrible but it’s going to take metalwork to effect proper repairs. The underside has some serious scale blooming and should involve a thorough inspection. The faded Butternut Yellow finish highlights small pockets of body panel rust here and there. Again, the body of this Nova is far from deleterious condition but it clearly has issues. The good news is that there is no obvious evidence of hard crash damage, a detriment that so often affects old muscle cars. Note the period-correct, lone Cragar S/S mag wheel at the northwest position.

You can smell the mold emanating from the interior – it probably has that unique old-school scent, and then some. I’m not trying to be ugly, but if you have schlepped around enough old cars, especially those that are “finds” of some sort you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s basically all there, center console included, but I’m still trying to figure out that lava flow all over the rear floor-it’s a time capsule from long ago. True to form is the column-mounted tachometer which probably hasn’t felt a rev impulse in many moons.

The seller claims, “This is a very weird car“, it doesn’t seem all that weird at all, just a shoved away muscle car that hasn’t had its day in the sun in a long time. Something is up with the engine, that lack of a comprehensive image is troubling. But that said, this Nova SS is one to investigate further, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. Jamie

    This car has been discussed on stevesnovasite.com, and there’s no proof that this is a legit L79 car. Missing all the L79 pieces. The body is completely rusted out, and I mean completely. If what’s left of the engine are actual L79 pieces, then it would be best used in a recreation on another body. What a shame if it is legit. Unfortunately, I think time has run out on this car.

    Like 13
    • Steve R

      That figures. The sellers selection of pictures telegraphs at a minimum, the intake and exhaust manifolds. Pictures of important components are not omitted by accident.

      Steve R

      Like 11
  2. Autoworker

    Was the L79 350 hp 327 a solid lifter engine? My brother (teenager) owned one of these in the early 70’s. Outran a 429 interceptor cruiser. The officer knew where we lived. Mom and Dad made him sell the car.

    Like 11
    • Tom

      No, it was a hydraulic lifter cam. I installed one in the 275hp 327 in my ‘67 Nova SS, along with the L79 carb and intake and it really woke it up. Fantastic cam!

      Like 6
  3. Jamie

    They had the 151 hydraulic cam.

    Like 4
  4. Brian A Davis

    We owned a recreation of an L79 that seller claimed was real but we never found any proof. It was a lot of fun and the next owner after me almost beat a 65 GTO tri-power that owner kept stock looking but was heavily modified and had fuel injection hidden. My old Nova was all original but the Goat got it by a bumper. Both were good friends at the time and the race was awesome. Oh and the goat could pull the front wheels off the ground at the drag strip… wish I had a video of the race but that was years and years ago when video wasn’t as convenient. Beautiful car but had to let it go because I needed the money.

    Like 7
    • Gary James Lehman

      Fuel injected tri-power?

      Like 3
      • 19sixty5 Member

        Likely he meant nitrous… but there is a guy that did a really nice EFI conversion to a factory Tri-Power setup.

        Like 1
  5. Steve Weiman

    “ completely untouched original L 79 350hp Nova” ………. Yeah sure it is, The most important part of the entire car, the completely untouched original engine has not a single picture anywhere in the ad. And no, the casting number of the cylinder head doesn’t count, casting number was used on any hi compression 327 that year. The sight of that Michigan plate…. Ouch…. The whole car has been doused in salt and humidity…. Everything about this listing screams: you’re gonna get burned baby……….. :(

    Like 17
  6. Rbig18

    It is virtually impossible to validate a true L79. The rear end, larger fuel line and exhaust hangers help but they came on other specs too. I have a 67 version. The body tag is 118 but the just means is was an SS body by Fisher. Fisher didnt know what engine GM would put in the body. Mine is a 117 Vin. Meaning it was a real ss but a 6cyl. It’s now a L79 but not original. I don’t believe this claim.

    Like 5
    • AMCFAN

      Bummer, This is a find everyone wishes they could find. I too had to look. When I was a kid there was a guy at the end of my street that had a 67 SS Nova and I thought it to be funny but it was a factory six cylinder.

      When I started to drive I looked at an SS 327 4 spd. like this. It was cheap. It ran and drove OK. Wasn’t as awe inspiring as a 1969 390 AMX……I never looked back.

      Like 5
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    The picture of the strap hooked to the gas tank support should tell you everything you need to know about this car.

    Like 9
    • 19sixty5 Member

      You don’t attach your winch cable to the gas tank strap? You’ve been missing out all these years!

      Like 2
  8. bikefixr

    Wow, that is ROUGH, and sitting at $14K+. If he gets that, then I want $200k for mine because all it needs is a seat seam and a small paint blemish fixed. Damn. There isn’t a part on that car that doesn’t need serious attention. It’s gonna end up as a collection of repop parts.

    Like 5
    • Johnny

      I didn,t know anyone would buy RUST. I think the saler is bidding on it himself or their their is alot of dense people out their. I sold a car (67) comaro-) had a real good body,but my cousin messed up the tile for $75 and I was asking $40 for it. I told the guy I was asking $40 and the reason.The he asked me if I,d take $75? I told him I sure would and he gave it to me and he drove the car home.

      Like 1
  9. BigBlocksRock

    Owned a 68 Chevy ll with a L-79 & 4-sp in HS. Performed quite well. Miss that car, I wish I knew then what I know now.

    Like 5
  10. Ron

    The presence of a specific component on a fifty five year old car isn’t proof of anything with regards to the cars original configuration, parts get swapped all the time and on a car of this vintage there is rarely a paper trail to document the changes. The only thing that the presence of a specific component proves is that is what’s there right now…

    Like 2
  11. Dave

    You mentioned that old car smell…the 1971 Fury cop car that was featured here brought that smell back to memory. How it smelled when I came out of work and the windows had been closed on a hot summer day. That was 46 years ago. Nobody bid on the car, by the way. If only I had the room.

    Like 0
  12. Matt

    I just don’t understand people. Yes, in 1975 who would’ve thought what this car could be worth today (assuming it’s a real L79). If you put it away because “no it’s not for sale and I’m gonna rebuild it someday” then why not give a s$&t and store it properly. Instead, a beautiful car (forgetting about future collector value or status) dissolved into a rusted piece of garbage. It’s a shame. Somebody would’ve loved having that car simply for what it was or what they wanted to build it in to.

    Like 0
  13. Kevin

    Another shameful example of a once great classic, left to rot and become a parts car,I’m having a hard time believing that a serious buyer has bid this up to $14400,as of now.

    Like 0

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