Ready To Rumble? 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396

Wow, this 1966 Chevelle SS396 takes me back. The last time I saw a Chevelle configured like this was at the old U.S. 30 Dragway in York, Pennsylvania in the early ’70s. A common street/strip sight at one time, the value of a genuine Chevelle SS has become so astronomical that a restore-to-stock, and the ensuing dollar shower that follows, seems to be the current direction today. Anyway, let’s see what’s here. This Chevelle track car is located in Largo, Florida and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $13,100 with reserve not yet met.

Back to U.S 30 Dragway, it was actually an airport runway and one meet that I attended in ’72 was halted to allow a small private plane to land – imagine that happening today. Anyway, the ’66 Chevelle in question, emblazoned with the moniker “Midnight Rambler” across its flanks, was modified in a similar fashion as our subject car. What caught my attention, besides its completely cool vibe, was its Washington, D.C. license plate – this was not a trailered car, it had been driven up from the District, a distance of about 100 miles. Kinda dicey if you blow something up!

This Chevelle possesses a model number of 3817 which means that it is an actual SS396 version and the seller claims that he has the original 396 engine – it’s just not installed. In place of the original rat is a larger one displacing 454 CI and driving a deep pan-equipped Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission. From what can be spied, the suspension doesn’t look modified but there is a driveshaft hoop in place. The seller states, “Car starts and drives” so that snippet may or may not be helpful. Nice to see, and assuming that there is a lot of go here, are the front installed disc brakes. Those will help to slough off some of the 1/4 mile generated speed. There is no included image of the original engine.

The exterior of this car still presents well and the seller mentions that the sponsorships are hand-painted. Rust, the bane of this vintage GM A-body, doesn’t appear to be an issue and it also looks like this Chevy has avoided dragstrip guardrail introductions. There is something going on with the trunk pan, however, and the seller has included a replacement. The missing high beams are on old school trick that was used to funnel air through the openings and into a dual-snorkel air cleaner (Ford Thunderbolt style) but that doesn’t appear to be the actual case here. The skinny Ansen slots upfront complete the ’70s dragster vibe.

Due to the image quality, it’s difficult to tell much about the interior but obviously, a roll bar has been installed. The seats look like buckets from a first-gen Camaro – they’re definitely not Chevelle Strato-buckets but they seem to be in good shape. I noted an “Astro” vent ball in the lower driver’s side of the dash, and that tip, along with an aluminum firewall block-off plate tells me that this Chevelle was originally air-conditioned.

The big decision here is what direction to take with this car. Since it’s a legitimate SS396, it could be converted back to a stock example and that approach would be aided by the inclusion of the original engine. But the “yesterday’s drag persona” is cool too, and as I stated at the outset, it’s not a get-up found often anymore. Decisions, decisions, what would you do with this ’66 Chevrolet Chevelle?

Comments

  1. Tim Shue

    Nice to hear from someone else who spent time at us 30 dragway,I use to big wheel race on that track

    Like 7
  2. Mike Vickers

    Hand lettering is becoming a lost art. Would be a shame to lose what’s here. There are still good sign painters out there, one could be hired to pull patterns from this vehicle and replicate it after repainting, if that’s the route one goes.

    Like 3
  3. Lynn Dockey Member

    My buddy has a biscayne in the family that raced in York too. If I can figure out how to put a pic up I will

  4. Ron

    The block off plate on the firewall is probably for the heater, the A/C evaporator coil and expansion valve are still in place just to the left of the block off plate.

  5. ChingaTrailer

    Of greater interest is the obscure green sportscaster on the lift behind the Chevy – at first I thought it was a TR3, then an Austin Healey but I think it’s something even more obscure and I just can’t quite name it.

  6. Oldtrips

    That’s a Healey on the lift

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