396 Powered! 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS

When I was 14, the year this car was built, an SS 396 was my number one dream vehicle. Even though the whole “Super Sport” thing was just an appearance package, it was an exceptionally cool one. This is a pinnacle car, a 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS with a big-block 396-cubic-inch V-8 still under the hood. It’s available here on Craigslist in Lancaster, California, near Los Angeles, with an $8,500 price.

The car is true to its outside-storage-in-southern-California heritage. The paint is toasted, and so is the interior, but the body appears to have only surface rust. Some underside photos would confirm that, but they’re missing here.

All the important SS bits are there, except the unique-to-the-SS hubcaps, and maybe they’re in the trunk. All the badging appears to be there, as well as the console shifter for the automatic transmission. The door panels are missing, and the instruments aren’t visible in the photos. The chrome looks pretty good—there’s surprisingly little of it on this car. The ad is terse and doesn’t confirm that the 396 is original to this ‘66, but the car overall doesn’t appear to have been touched for decades. “Stock, needs restoration, pretty much all there” is what we get. The Chevy does look very stock.

There’s no question this car is worth restoring, and it’s a good base for a ground-up transformation. Hagerty lists a ’66 Impala SS as a $33,500 car in #2 condition, and $55,100 in #1 Concours. The 396 is obviously a plus. That engine is rare—in 1965, only a tenth of one percent of Impalas had the 396. But the great likelihood is that this car is going to need just about everything other than rust repair. And I see a nasty dent in the front passenger fender. Will you be upside down when the last bill is paid? If you really have a jones for the SS 396, it might be worth rolling the dice.

The Impala debuted in 1958 as part of the Bel Air line, then became its own upscale thing the next year. The SS appeared in 1961, with an array of power choices up to the she’s-so-fine 360-horsepower 409.

As Motor Trend notes, “After ’62, the SS became primarily an appearance package, but it could still be ordered with Chevrolet’s largest engines and beefed-up chassis components.” The SS line was deep-sixed for 1970. Until 1964, Impalas used an X-type frame, but 1965 and later cars—like this ’66—have a perimeter frame. 1966 was also the year the Caprice was introduced, but whoever bought this Impala clearly wanted performance.

Comments

  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    Wow, that is one dirty car!

    Like 1
  2. Al T

    Looks solid though….. and AC (less the compressor and brackets). Somebody installed Caprice tail lights at some point.

    Like 6
    • Chuck Dickinson

      The rear seat is also from a Caprice. The taillight switch was a fairly common change back then. They do look ‘classier’ than the std. Impala lenses.

      Like 2
  3. GMB in Maine Greg Brookbank Member

    Those are 1966 Caprice taillights; ’66 SS’s had slightly different ones… no chrome bars through the lense. So much for the ‘very stock’ idea–

  4. Gary Haas

    Caprice tail light lenses.

  5. Stuart

    Looks like the 66 Impala SS my wife owned when we got married. Hers was a blue 327 with a white vinyl roof. One of those you wished you kept.

  6. Larry D

    @Jim Motavalli

    Well, put it there, brother. I, also, was 14 y/o when this 1966 Impala SS was built. So we both reach milestone ages this year. I hit mine about 2 weeks ago.

    As far as the impact these cars had on us in our youth, let me tell you a story about a car that hit me like a ton of bricks.

    As a kid, I subscribed to Hot Rod and Car Craft Magazines. I read them religiously cover to cover each month. So, I was aware in the spring of 1965, Chevrolet would be releasing to the public the first of its Mark IV Big Block 396 engines. They would be in the full-size Chevrolets, in a mere 201 Chevelle SS cars to launch the SS 396 model which would become a gigantic success and of course in the Corvette.

    I had a neighbor below me who had a daughter my age and a son a couple of years older. That boy told me one day that his older sister and her husband had just bought a brand new ’65 Impala SS and they were going to bring it to their house that afternoon for everyone to see. Remember when people used to do that? And remember when people actually looked at someone’s new car and nodded their approval? That was before people got jealous when someone bought a new car.

    Anyway, I went to my neighbor’s house so I would be there when they arrived. In just a bit, they came rolling in. The car was a 2-door hardtop in Madeira Maroon with black vinyl interior. And yes it was a Super Sport. But the first thing that blew me away about that car was the 396 Turbo Jet emblem on the front fender!! That was a totally new design and the best and coolest looking emblem I had ever seen on ANY car! They got out of the car and left the doors open so we looked inside first. And holy guacamole!!!! It was a 4-speed!!! I was in shock. I believe that was the first factory 4-speed car I had ever seen.

    We all looked all around the inside and the woman complained about her husband getting a 4-speed because she said she would never be able to drive it. Everybody agreed but I wondered to myself why she couldn’t learn to drive it???

    So, after perusing the interior and that beautiful fastback exterior of that ’65 Impala SS, he opened the hood!!!! Oh. be still my heart, those gigantic Chevrolet Orange valve covers were total, pure eye candy!!! I had read about these engines in my magazines and now I was finally seeing one in person. I was flabbergasted. It just hit me like nothing had before. It was simply beautiful.

    Let’s see, it’s been 57 years since that event changed my life. My wife says she finds it incredible that anyone would remember such an event and that it would remain such a vivid memory.

    But to a true car nut at that age, yes, it did do that.

    Long live the Big Block Chevrolet engine. And congratulations to Chevrolet for recently introducing the new earth pounder 632 cubic inch Big Block with 1002 hp! I want one so badly.

    Like 23
  7. Rw

    Listen to Steve Earle song Sweet little 66.

    Like 2
  8. Mike

    The first year for the Caprice, was mid-year 1965. It was an Impala sport sedan with a much nicer interior. It was made to compete with the Ford LTD. 1966 was the first year for the Caprice line, which also included a station wagon.

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