396 Powered Convertible! 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu

Round two on the honesty front for the day, and located in California, Missouri, is this 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu convertible that has been cloned to appear as an SS396 model. And the seller is very forthright that this convertible is not what it appears to be. It is a looker nevertheless and worth a closer investigation. It’s available here on eBay for a current bid of $16,500, 46 bids tendered as of this writing.

Cloned muscle cars are a pretty common phenomenon and Chevrolet Chevelles seem to lead the pack on that front. They’re fine, provided that their true provenance is disclosed, not to mention that they make for a nice general driver alternative vs. fears of motoring about in a high dollar genuine article.

This example as all of the SS396 exterior trimmings including the badges, blacked-out grille and rear valance, vented hood, and correct rocker panel molding. The only thing that seems to be missing is the rocker panel molding’s continuation along the lower part of the quarter panel on either side. The body is properly aligned and straight and appears to be rust free – it shows very well in Marina Blue capped off with a white canvas top. Speaking of the top, the seller does state that it is manually operated but there is no word regarding its condition. Nevertheless, the images present it well.

Things get more interesting as you dig inside. The interior would seem to be SS396 correct though there are some missing items like the HVAC controls (this Malibu shows signs of having been an air-conditioned car), a missing radio, no center console added, miscellaneous wires dangling down from under the dashboard and a shifter that looks like it’s from an automatic transmission equipped car even though is example is advertised as possessing a four-speed manual gearbox. The clutch pedal is evident. The rest of  the interior, the black upholstery, door cards, carpet, etc. are standard ’66 Chevelle bits and all appear to be in good order.

Under the hood is a non-running 396 CI V8, 325 HP engine which would have been standard equipment in a ’66 SS396 Chevelle. The seller claims that the engine has been rebuilt with forged components but he provides no details regarding its non-running status. In stating the obvious, there is no carburetor, fan, radiator hoses, and the power steering pump is situated askew in the wrong location. Inquiries would have to be made to get more insight into the non-operational motor.

Continuing the tour, out back is a twelve-bolt differential that was either already in place or added by the seller; either way, it is correct for an SS396 clone and one of the items frequently missed when building a tribute. Also of note is the new fuel tank. With all of these changes and inclusions, this Chevelle has a lot going for it! It would be helpful to know more about the engine. If it merely needed the noted missing parts, it’s reasonable to assume that the seller would complete it and be done – voila, a running car! There may be more to the story that only the seller can answer. Years ago, I was dead set against cloned cars, they seemed like some sort of an undermining conspiracy. But in reality, I believe they have a legitimate role as long as they’re properly disclosed. How about you, are you accepting of a tribute or more inclined to hold out for the real thing?


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  1. Ken Jennings

    Nice car obviously, but I fear this is too much power for a convertible. Body flex will be extreme. A 327 should have been the top offering on these.

    • Ric Bogue

      I have seen a few 1966 SS 396 convertibles so the SS big blocks were available back then

      Like 2
    • George w Adams

      I had one of these in the day, and the convertibles handled the power very well, there was probably a little twisting of the body around the front door area on the convertible but I really didn’t notice much, it wasn’t enough to lose control of the car.

      Like 1
  2. Todd

    Convertibles came with fully enclosed frames for added strength. Car should be fine with the big block

    Like 14
  3. 1-MAC

    HAd a 66 conv’t with 372 hp l-78. The blacked out rear valance panel was not factory on any 66 Chevelle although was done on many to match the grille. All convertibles had a different frame so o problem there .The key giveaway is the lower rear quarter trim,only on the SS. Still the price is about half or less than the real thing and almost no one could tell. Since it is a Chevy all parts are readily available to complete.

    Like 1
    • Arthell64 Member

      The black rear accent panel that was being painted on ’66 SS Chevelles had been dropped to save time and labor. Shortly after this point Fisher Body in Atlanta did reinstate the black rear accent panel on very late production ’66 SS Chevelles.


      Like 3
  4. Gaspumpchas

    Lots of contradictions here, outward appearance is great, then you get to the interior with the wires hanging down, the guy could have at least stuck them up under the dash for the pics. The serious buyer would want a good inspection to see the quality of the work done, mill is still a ?. dam sam this sure is a looker in the Blue and torque thrusts. Maybe that’s a mystery shifter??? Stay safe and good luck.

    Like 4
  5. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Not a fan of clones, I like ’em as they left the factory. Be it a muscle car or a lesser model, I’ll always go for an original or a restored to original. That being said, this is a nice looking car. Hopefully, there’s not much needed to get it up and running but enquiries regarding the mechanicals would help. What’s left to do? Definitely more details needed before you pull the trigger.

    Like 2
  6. Steve Bush Member

    Agree with GPC that it looks nice but needs work. Current bid of $17k would make lots more sense if it were running. Add working AC, front discs and a power top and you’d have a very nice car.

    Like 5
  7. TimM

    Gone already!!! The good ones don’t last long!!!

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