Live Auctions

Original Big-Block: 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

The owner of this 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 has recently removed it from long-term storage. It is an original and unrestored classic that needs very little to take it to the next level. It features no aftermarket additions and wears its survivor badge with pride. There’s little doubt that a cosmetic refresh would have it shining magnificently, but the buyer may choose to address its minor rust issues and retain the rest of the car in an untouched state. With these muscle cars growing in stature, popularity, and value, it could also represent a sound investment. Located in Pleasant Hill, California, you will find the Chevelle listed for sale here on eBay. Reasonable bidding has pushed the price to $13,500, although I’m unsurprised that this figure remains short of the reserve.

The Regal Red paint that graces the panels of this Chevelle shines nicely. It is made more impressive when you consider that this car is unrestored and original. It has recently emerged from storage, and years of isolation don’t seem to have hurt it too much. There is some rust for potential buyers to consider, but this is limited to a few spots around the wheel openings and some that has appeared around the back window. Addressing both would be easy and could be completed with patches rather than the buyer performing panel replacement. If I bought this car I would follow the patch path because the remaining steel in the car is as it rolled off the production line. Diving under this classic reveals floors and a frame that is spotless. Life in California has helped preserve this gem for the next owner to enjoy. The panels look extremely straight, with no significant bruises or marks. The owner has just stripped and restored all five wheels, and they wear the original dog dish hubcaps. The trim and chrome are in good condition, while there are no issues with the glass.

Chevrolet’s big-block V8s have achieved legendary status across the globe, and that’s what we find in this classic when we lift the hood. The L35 version of the 396ci monster punches out 325hp. Those horses find their way to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. This Chevelle is a genuine muscle car capable of storming the ¼ mile in 14.7 seconds before winding its way to 124mph. It comes with equal helpings of good and bad news for potential buyers. The owner confirms that it is a numbers-matching classic and that he has recently rebuilt the carburetor and replaced the exhaust from the manifolds back. He says that the car drives nicely and that the engine feels strong. However, that big-block does have a knock that reveals itself at high revs. He believes it is coming from the #1 cylinder but isn’t sure of the cause. If I were to slap down my cash on this classic, I would be investigating that as a priority. It may be minor, but I would rather find out immediately than risk hearing a loud, potentially expensive bang followed by total silence.

The originality of this Chevelle continues when we survey its interior. The first owner ordered the vehicle with an AM radio, bucket seats, and a knee-knocker tachometer. These items are intact, and nobody has added any aftermarket components. The interior remains serviceable, but it needs some attention to lift it back to a factory-fresh state. The covers on the front seats are split and damaged, and the buyer will need to source replacements to achieve this look. While we receive no photos, the seller indicates that the headliner is pretty bad. Sourcing a headliner for around $200 is not difficult, but the seat covers will leave buyers with a decision to make. While a replacement set for the bucket seats will lighten their wallet by around $350, there may be a color inconsistency between the new covers and the existing rear one. If the buyer wishes to maintain an even appearance, they could add a further $200 to the total for a new back cover. Otherwise, this interior appears to need nothing. The dash and pad are in excellent condition, as is the carpet. There is some wear on the steering wheel, but a skilled new owner could restore this in a home workshop. With those items addressed, the interior would present nicely.

For potential buyers, it is decision time with this 1966 Chevelle SS 396. If you were to hand over your hard-earned cash for this classic, what would your course of action be? Would you address its minor rust problems and treat it to a cosmetic refresh? If you chose to leave the car largely untouched, that would be easy to understand. It is often said that vehicles like this are only original once, which makes the preservation option a valid choice. It will be interesting to gauge your feedback and see how many of you would return it to a factory-fresh state. It would also be interesting to know if you might consider making a bid on this iconic American muscle car.

Comments

  1. PaulG

    From 1976-1980 I was driving, buying and selling over a dozen of these 66-67 SS-396 chevelles and learned a lot about them. This would be a perfect example of a survivor that just needs a refresh and could probably be done with enough care than it would have enough originality that I would feel comfortable showing it as such. Repairing the area around the rear window will probably be the most difficult to get right. Engine refresh and interior less so.
    Really nice car that I’ll be keeping a close eye on…

    Like 18
    • Steve

      What’s the deal with the VIN number and the VIN on the door plate, Car color on one is RR the other one reads DD

      • Pnix

        DD on the VIN plate has nothing to do with the paint code.
        From chevelles.net:
        DD was initially to be used by dealers for “Delivery Date” but few were stamped. Why more were not stamped is simply speculation. Maybe dealers simply opted to not stamp it since the dealer paperwork would show delivery date or maybe they found their new car prep personnel were stamping them too hard and damaging them. Whatever the reason, few were stamped as should not be a concern.

  2. James A Martin

    Wow big block and 4 speed, why isn’t this a 40000 plus car? Seems to be the norm at Kissimmee.

    • Doug from MD.

      Kissimmee is a specialty auction the prices are never the norm. A two week auction that draws big buyers from all over the world. Basically a who’s gonna out spend the other guy. Even the announcers couldn’t believe the prices of this years auction. Those prices won’t dictate the market at other states or auctions not to say prices will be much cheaper either. Classic cars are big bucks and no end to the insanity.

      Like 1
  3. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Looks like a really nice original car that represents what most of these looked like back in the day and not over-restored fakey.

    Like 5
  4. FrankB

    My brother-in-law had a car exactly like this in 1968. He taught me how drive a manual in that car. After killing the engine a few times, I got the hang of it. Now, at 70 years old, I still prefer rowing through the gears as opposed to an automatic.

    Like 11
  5. moosie moosie

    I wonder how many Red Chevelle SS 396 cars the seller has ? In the pictures of underneath the car you can see the right front of a ’66 SS 396 peeking out more than once.

  6. Ron

    Bidding is over $26k and still rolling…

  7. Bud Lee

    I’ve been led to believe passenger side rear view mirrors are not original to older SS’s . Is this true ? Can someone claify ?
    I’m not knocking this car at all . Even if every part on it came from a box . I’d be more than happy with it .

    • Pnix

      A passenger side rear view mirror was a dealer installed option on 1966 Chevelles.

      Like 1
      • Biginch396

        its a option and yes factory

    • Biginch396

      its a option and yes factory

    • Chuck Dickinson

      Right hand mirrors were always an option–dealer install, NOT from factory at this time. However, the RH mirror on THIS car is not correct. It’s not the mirror used on Chevelles, but the mirror from an Impala which was an entirely different design used ONLY on full-sized 65 & 66 cars.

  8. trav66

    Sweet little ’66! (shout out to Steve Earle) I’m drooling, the epitome of muscle car! Favorite year and set-up. The engine sounds like there may be a valve spring broken, that would be the first thing to check. I’m keeping an eye on this one also, curious what it sells for.

  9. Gregory A Forrey

    The big 396 was 375 HP

    • moosie moosie

      1965 Corvettes that had the 396 as an option had 425 horsepower.

  10. Bruce

    Engine noise that sounds like valve train , Chevy fuel pump noise ? Changed many for a noise .

    • trav66

      Bruce, I didn’t think about the fuel pump. Good idea. It doesn’t sound like a catastrophic problem whatever it is. Even if it’s in the valve train it wouldn’t be too difficult to remedy. Doesn’t sound like it’s in the rotating assembly. At $32,300 with a day to go. Wish I had $50,000 burning a hole in my pocket!

  11. trav66

    Sold for $34,100. Seems like a helluva deal for a running, driving, all original SS.

    Like 1

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