Garage Find: 1966 Chevrolet Impala Convertible

I’ve always had a soft spot for Chevrolet’s ’66 Impala, I owned a convertible version for about seven years and it was one of my favorite cars. That being the case, when this ’66 convertible surfaced, I knew I had to take a gander at it. This example is located in Wallingford, Connecticut, and is available, here on craigslist for $9,000.

Full-size (B Body) Chevrolet production in ’66 was about 1.4 M vehicles with about 655k Impalas and another 119k Impala SS variants rolling off of several different assembly lines. Between ’64 and ’67, the Impala SS was its own series with a unique four-digit I.D. carried within the VIN so their authenticity is easy to ascertain. As the mid-size, A-body Chevelle got traction and grew in volume, it slowly drew away from the Impala’s sales success, the SS model in particular. But in ’66, the Impala was on top of the world in terms of moving metal.

The seller of this ’66 convertible has it listed as an SS model, it’s not. The VIN has not been provided, but the lack of bucket seats/center console is a dead giveaway that is further reinforced by the non-SS Impala fender badge and the erroneous Super Sport emblem, hiked from a ’67 Chevelle SS396, affixed to the quarter panel. The few included images are poorly positioned so it’s difficult to get a comprehensive look at the entire car. From what can be seen, however, the body of this Impala is straight and it appears to be rot free – again, hard to know based on the images and the lack of listing details. The seller states, “solid car, needs cosmetics“. One thing that a prospective buyer will want to check is the condition of the floors and the under-rear-seat panel. These vintage convertibles were notorious for water intrusion around the fitment of the convertible top, I know from experience with both a ’66 and ’68, and the collected water will work its worst. And speaking of convertible tops, the one on this car will need to be replaced – an easy part to source but a tedious replacement process. The red finish, however, still presents pretty well.

Under the hood is the new for ’66, 275 HP version of Chevy’s venerable 327 CI V8 engine connected to a Powerglide automatic transmission. This engine is a good choice for a car the size of an Impala, though the big-block motor, with its prodigious torque, is more adept at getting the large car rolling. The seller states that the engine turns so we’ll put this one in “non-runner” status. The engine appears to be basically stock with the exception of chrome valve covers and a Holley carburetor. Chevrolet used Holley carbs, as well as Rochester units, on this 327 engine in ’66, so it could be original or a later replacement.

The interior appears to be in fair shape, mostly just dirty. The image is not particularly revealing but is obviously revealing enough to note that the aforementioned standard SS bucket seats are not present. From what can be seen, the front seat does not appear to be ripped – Chevrolet’s vinyl selections in the ’60s were pretty tough stuff.  There is some dash rust starting, just below the instrument panel, so that will need attention. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the original radio has been replaced with a non-OEM unit. Fortunately, it looks like a non-DIN style radio in place so the opening probably has not been cut and can be reoccupied by an original unit.

In restored form, a ’66 Impala does pretty well value-wise. My experience is that the similar ’65, as well as the ’66s, will return better value than the corresponding ’67 to ’70 models. This example needs a closer look but it may be a solid basis for a rejuvenation project. It would be interesting to hear from any former or current four-generation Impala owners, how was, or is your experience?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Speaking of “soft spots”, might want to check the frame. These notoriously had bad frames, somebody at A.O. Smith wasn’t doing their job, or more likely, a poor design and iffy metal. My ex brother in law has or had, a ’66( or ’67) ragtop like this, beautiful topside, when he got it home, there were gaping holes in the frame, something he never thought of checking. Chevy sure made a great car in the mid 60’s. Again, $9g’s to start, seems a bit optimistic, I see on TV auctions, $9g’s buys a pretty nice car and you can drive it home. Up to you, I guess.

    Like 8
    • bry593

      If the engine looks like it was fished out of the ocean, can you guess what all those parts closer to the ground look like?

      Like 2
    • Kurt M Koenig Member

      My first car was a schoolmarm ’66 Impala two-door hardtop most definitely *not* an SS – 283 V8 and two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission – passed down from my stepmother to me in perfect albeit very boring condition with high 40K miles as a Christmas gift in 1974. Five years later I gave it to a tranny shop mechanic in lieu of paying the diagnostic fees for a blown transmission with about 150K miles, dents up one side and down the other, stuffing coming out of the upholstery (possibly accelerated by smoke damage from the time a carelessly discarded cigarette butt ignited the stash of fast food wrappers under the front seat), and more to the point of this thread, a chunk of angle iron welded in by a local mechanic in Verona, WI to repair the rusted-through frame. Under the driver’s door if memory serves. Nonetheless, I got good service out of that car…

    • Bill McCoskey

      Howard,

      The frames on these can certainly rust terribly! I had an almost identical 66 Impala convertible, but mine was a true SS car, in White with black interior.

      I had bought it in may of 1980, with plans on driving the car thru the summer as my everyday vehicle. Around the middle of June I was driving on the DC Beltway [I-495], and as I drove west past the big Holy Cross hospital in Silver Spring, MD, I hit a bump or pothole.

      Both frame rails failed in front of the rear axle supports. Because the trunk floor was quite rusty, the back part of the frame slid backwards just enough for the drive shaft to pull out of the transmission. The drive shaft dropped down and as it’s front area skidded to the right side, it hit a pothole. The drive shaft dug in and this caused the entire back end of the car to pivot upward!

      It felt like the back end of the car went up a dozen feet or more [probably only a couple of feet at most], before the entire back end of the frame and rear axle came out from under the car. The car came to a fast stop, and it’s a miracle the gas tank didn’t catch fire, because the back half of the car was now resting on the tank.

      I walked away from the crash, but I did end up with 2 bruises across my upper legs, because when the car came back down, being a convertible body without a back frame, the body flexed to the point where the steering wheel pinned me between the wheel and the bucket seat, but just for a few seconds.

      The second miracle was that no other cars were damaged, and no one else was hurt. The third miracle was a police officer was driving in his cruiser only a few cars behind me, and he saw the whole thing. He stopped his car right in front of the frame & rear axle assembly, and made the traffic go around us.

      Didn’t get a ticket, because I still had my military ID showing I was in the Military Police.

      Yeah, these sure can have frame rot!

  2. 9K2164S

    A ’66 SS convertible was my first car in high school. The frame was rusted through by 1978, as was the trunk and rear floors. Just a $300 junker back then. I replaced it in 1979 with a $500 ’69 Camaro.

    Like 4
  3. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    It’s the perfect 3,500 buc restomod project.

  4. Geoff

    A convertible in Connecticut almost certainly means it got rust underneath especially if its already up in the cowl and dashboard. This looks promising but is almost certainly hiding some ugly surprises. Over priced and misrepresented as an SS I’d pass. Found one in nice looking red one in Texas in under a minute for $8500.00 Running driver quality.

    Like 8
    • Bill McCoskey

      Geoff,

      The owner may not realize it’s not an SS car, having simply read the script on the fender.

  5. Jamie

    Super Sport emblems on the quarters are from a ‘67 Chevelle

    Like 1
  6. Brian Fisse

    My best friend in high school in 1976 bought a 66 Impala SS convertible with factory 427 4-speed with the emblems for $950. It was clean and straight, butternut yellow with black top and knock-off SS hubcaps and white walls. Beautiful car, maybe 70K miles. Blew the tranny 6 months later and sold it for $750.

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      OK, I know this is trivia but the ’66 yellow code ‘Y’ is actually a different hue. It’s officially called Lemonwood Yellow and was available that year only.
      ‘Y’ for ’65 was called Crocus Yellow, a color that would return for ’67, now under the better known name Butternut Yellow. It’s my favorite solid GM hue

      Like 1
  7. Vince H

    I was trying to buy a 66 SS convertible with a427 590 hp 4 speed. We were 200 apart and neither one of us would budge on the price. To this day I regret ot buying it.

  8. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    My sister bought a new ’66 Impala convertible back in September ’65. Two weeks later she almost totalled it running into the back of a Volkswagen. It was yellow with a black top and interior, 4 on the floor. She and her husband didn’t opt for the SS option because, as she said it was basically too much money for just a bunch of emblems. At the time, I was not aware that with the SS you got buckets and a console.

  9. Vlnce H

    390 hp not 590

    Like 3
    • Hound59

      lol

    • Dave

      Nitrous and a turbo would give you 590…

  10. PAUL

    I am more interested in the black 1940 something convertible next to it! That looks like a really cool project!

    Like 1
  11. Arby

    Poor dirt application and a lousy job of piling on junk.

    Like 4
  12. Milt

    I had a 1965 Impala SS hardtop from 74 to August of 83. IMHO, the best looking car ever BUILT!!!

    Like 1
  13. john hugh

    2000 $ ILL TAKE it…plenty of rust hiding im sure

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