Live Auctions

Roller Project: 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS

There are no shortages of descriptions that sellers use to describe their cars. They run the gamut from zero description to a tome, from a complete downplay to an over-the-top “give me a break, please” exaggeration and then all points in between. Sometimes the fun is in just perusing the listings to review the quality of the creative writing employed. With that thought, let’s take a look at this 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS, located in Everest, Kansas and available here on eBay for a current bid of $8,600, reserve not yet met or a BIN price of $14,500.

The ’66 Nova, and its near-identical ’67 successor, have been very popular cars with the performance set since the early ’70s. I can remember a time when a clean, non-cobbled example came up for sale, buyers flocked to it and this was just a five or six-year-old used car. While the SS was the preferred variant, a non-SS, two-door hardtop had a resale game as well; the two-door sedan, not so much so. Clearly, Chevrolet got it right with this version of the Chevy II/Nova. (The extended spring shackles weren’t part of the original design!)

This example is advertised as a true SS, the VIN prefix provided by the seller checks out, but what does that really mean? Well, The SS option was mostly an appearance package based on trim, wheel covers and badges as applied to the two-door hardtop body style. It also included bucket seats and a center console but not necessarily a performance engine as an in-line six-cylinder was standard on the Nova SS.  This example, based on the fender badge, indicates that it was originally a 283 CI V8 good for either 195 or 220 HP depending on the version. The VIN will delineate between a six and eight-cylinder engine but will not denote which six or eight-cylinder motor. A clutch pedal is present so that would attest to a manual transmission. A four-speed would have come with a floor shifter but a three-speed was column activated, even on a SS. There is a shifter opening cut into the floor but it looks more Sawzall performed than factory-cut at the Norwood assembly plant.  None of this matters at this point because, obviously, there is no engine or transmission present.

The exterior and underside look pretty solid, there doesn’t appear to be any perforation, just typical surface rust which is always the case it seems. The seller does reference rust-through on the top of either one of the front fenders but it’s not clearly visible. The original SS trim all appears to be present, the glass too. I’m not sure what the claim, “THIS IS A SEMA QUALITY PROJECT” means exactly unless the seller is trying to tell us that this is the grade of the body necessary for a zillion-dollar redo that is performed annually at SEMA and then televised. That said, there is a ton of Bondo in the various body panels; don’t know that is SEMA acceptable or not. Most car guys/girls that I meet generally are not looking to accomplish anything remotely close to a SEMA creation with their various projects. I guess this Nova is tailored to that higher-end target market taking into account its advertised, “NOT CHEAP” price. Is this a good start? If rust and the overall integrity of the platform is job one, then I guess so. It’s curious that this Nova is photographed with Chevrolet OEM style “mag” wheel covers when they are not included with the sale – they actually have some real value.

The interior is pretty well gutted which I guess helps if you want to get a good idea of the solidity of the floors. There are bucket seats present but according to ’66 Nova marketing material, they’re wrong; again, not that it matters in this case. The dash pad and door cards are done and the console is missing, but again, it probably doesn’t matter in this case assuming the seller’s presumed buyer.

What is this Nova really? It’s a roller that needs a lot of work, a base for a project. Is this something that would serve as the foundation for a SEMA style custom or resto-mod? Probably but I’m not the best informed on that topic. How about a base for a nicely redone/restored driver? I’d say yes to that too, but at what price? Let’s get a discussion going, what’s the logical thing to do with this Nova to get it back on the road and add some fun to it?

Comments

  1. Gaspumpchas

    SEMA quality? Guess the seller has never been to SEMA. I highly recommend that all gearheads go at least once. If that’s what the buyer wants and is willing to spend the $ to take it to that level, cool. Far from it but this is a really bossa nova.Think Jim is correct- SEMA quality = big bucks. Good luck to the new owner, there is one same color here in upstate New Yawk, 327 4 speed. Extremely cool and fast.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 5
    • Angrymike

      I love love love these old Nova’s, 66 is my favorite. My buddy has a home built 302 with 13to1 compression sitting on the floor doing nothing, it’d be perfect for this !

      Like 4
  2. Troy s

    Years ago it would have been powered and raced with a Corvette 327, built to the hilt and 4 gears forward, 4.11’s. Later a 355 small block and full manual turbo350 automatic, more gear, bigger tires in the back,.. painted black. Made great street/strip cars. Throwing all logic out the window head first, of course!

    Like 1
  3. Superdessucke

    Hurst used to make a “Universal Shifter” during the 1970s and 80s that you would have to cut the side tunnel like this because it bolted to the side of the tranny.

    I bet that’s what happened here. Unfortunately I know this because I installed one in a 1969 Camaro SS 350. Hey, they weren’t that valuable back then!

    Like 10
  4. Djjerme

    Ugh, this makes me miss my red ‘66 I had in high school. Built a 377 for it, and kept blowing up 8.2 rearends. Eventually sold it to my uncle.. really miss that car some times.

    If I wasn’t so deep in Bimmer’s I’d get another one like this for a project.

    Like 1
  5. Scuderia

    In ’79 (I was 17) a co-worker was selling a ’66 with a 396 I wanted it so badly but didn’t have the $2500 before it found another home. I likely wouldn’t be here today had I managed to get it…

    Like 2
  6. bikefixr

    I have a super-clean Red ’67 SS327. Great car. Everyone loves a Nova. I’d just drop a crate motor in and have fun.

    Like 2
  7. Tort Member

    Owned two 66 Chevy II SS’s. The first one was same color as this one and I believe rare because it was a 283 with a 3 speed on the column and with a small SS center console plate. Other was a 327 4 speed that I sold to a friend that has offered to sell it back to me. Great car, thinking seriously about bringing it home.

    Like 3
    • Jim

      Tort, I’d be interested in the 67 SS if still available

  8. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Weak point on these cars was the steering/suspension system. When these were still relatively new used cars, I worked as a front end/brake mechanic. These cars always needed tie rod ends, idler arms and ball joints.
    Just reminiscing.
    God bless America

    Like 3
    • Tort Member

      Also by a first hand experience they definitely needed a dual master cylinder. Stopped for three trains and many stop signs that day and I guess it wasn’t my time!

      Like 2
  9. SquareLeft

    Looking at the cowl tag, this one started life as a 3-on-the-tree car. Probably a 283, but you’d need to see the actual VIN tag on the door post to verify (cowl tags aren’t always accurate when it comes to L6/V8 IDs). 737-B is a blue bucket seat interior. The W on the bottom line is interesting – passenger side door mirror, which isn’t there now.

    I might actually be interested in bidding on this one!

    Like 1
  10. Paul R.

    I don’t think the styling change from the ’62/ 63/’s was an improvement. The cars look heavier and slab sided, the original Chevy ll had a cleaner, lighter look.
    The engine bay looks like there was no change, the shock towers and suspension set up looks identical to a ’62
    I had a ’62 and a ’71 . I ordered the ’71 with a 307 (compromise with parents), positraction, buckets seats and a 3 speed Muncie FLOOR shift. So three on the floor was an option.
    The 307 was no rocket, 200 h.p.. , but with that three speed she would pull close to 60mph in second.
    I still have the order sheet for the ’71, total price, in Canadian $ – $3400.

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