Last week’s photo showed the right front corner of a 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS convertible. The photo came from General Motors Co. as part of its celebration of Chevy’s 100th anniversary.
We didn’t expect you to know it was a convertible from that shot of the headlight and grille, of course, nor that it was the Super Sport version of the Impala. Any big 1966 Chevy was good enough to get your name listed.
The 1966 was a mild restyling of the curvaceous 1965 Chevy, and a number of readers guessed the 1965. The 1966 had sharper lines and rectangular taillights instead of the double or triple round lenses that had been a Chevy’s standard since 1958 (excluding the teardrop lenses for 1959). Here is some information that GM posted along with this blue Impala:
“Chevrolet had five different full-size series and 19 different models for 1966, including the Impala and Impala Super Sport (SS). Triple taillights made Impalas immediately discernible from other full-size Chevys, which had two taillights per side.
“The Super Sport model gained famed a few years earlier with a 409-horsepower engine that was tough to beat on the drag strip or stock car track. For ’66, the Super Sport’s top engine was a 425-hp 427 ‘big block’ V-8. This example features a 390-hp version of the 427 engine.
“The Impala Super Sport included SS front fender emblems, Impala SS-accented grille and rear deck badge, SS full wheel covers, vinyl-covered bucket seats and a center console. They were offered in convertible and two-door hardtop body styles.
“A 6-cylinder was the base engine in the ’66 Impala SS, but customers clearly preferred the V-8. Only about 900 6-cylinder SS models were sold – a mere 0.007-percent of the total production.”
GM also gave a few specs for the 1966 Chevrolet: wheelbase, 119 inches; weight, 3,500 pounds; base price, $3,199.
So much for history. Chosen randomly from the correct entries in last week’s contest was Larry Williams, of Martinez, who wrote: “In 1966 the police department I was in purchased the ’66 Impala police cars. Because of a transmission shortage, the plant called our purchasing agent and wanted to know if it would be OK to put Powerglide (automatic) transmissions behind these high-powered engines. However, they did not call the police department to verify. So, we wound up with 396-cubic-inch, single-exhaust, Powerglide cars that would not get out of their own way!”
He wins a prize from The Augusta Chronicle. Other readers identifying the Chevy were:
AIKEN: Howard Jones wrote: “It is definitely a snippet of the 1966 full-size Chevrolet. Chevy offered four different series – Biscayne (the entry-level model, used mainly in fleets), the Bel Air, the Impala (which was Chevrolet and GM’s best-seller for many years), and the Caprice (the new top-line Chevrolet).
“Biscayne was discontinued in 1972, the suffix ‘Classic’ was added to the Caprice in 1973, the Bel Air was dropped after 1975, and Impala after 1985 (only to return at midyear in 1994 as an SS model). Also, Caprice was retired after 1996, only to come out of retirement as a police vehicle (built in Australia, no less!) in 2011, and may soon return for the general public someday.”
AUGUSTA: Wayne E. Fields said it was the 1966 Chevy, and added: “I had a ’65 impala two-door hardtop, burgundy with the 327 and automatic. Daddy bought it brand new. I was in first grade when he bought it.”.
Also, Alvin Roberson and Lowell Fritsche, who said, “The grille guard gives it away as an SS model.”
CANTON, GA.: David Anderson wrote: “My parents had one of these fine automobiles; well, maybe it is a bit of an overstatement to call it a fine automobile. I am sure my mother was not calling it that on more than a few cold winter mornings when it would have to fast-idle under the carport for about 20 minutes to get the engine warm enough so as not to stall when pulling into traffic. Still, we were kids back then and did not care about that, and I still have many fond memories of trips and vacations in that car.
“This 1966 Impala replaced a yellow 1965 Impala, and when I was looking for my first car in 1971 I was looking at 1964-66 Impalas because of those memories. I really wanted a red 1964 Super Sport Impala with a four-speed, but my father pretty much said there was no way he was having a teenage son on his policy with a V-8, four-speed car, even though I had to pay him back the cost of the premium. My second choice was a yellow 1965 convertible, but it appeared to have been left out in the rain with the top down on more than a couple of occasions. Before I could track down another one, my father had put a down payment, my down payment, on a 1967 Pontiac Le Mans and that ownership experience is a whole nother story!”
CLEARWATER: Willie Green Jr. said, “I had one.”
CUMMING, GA.: Chris Rhodes wrote: “Back in my high school days, I had a friend who restored his father’s Impala coupe to serve as his first car. In the days before readily available, turn-key crate engines, he built a 383 stroker engine using a 350 block and a 400 crankshaft to increase the engine’s displacement. This is a common aftermarket option today, but it was cutting-edge technology in the mid-’80s.
“He finished the engine build in January, and we took the old girl out over the course of a couple of Friday nights for her initial shakedown and tune. After jetting the carburetor and tinkering with the ignition timing, we finally got her dialed in. The car was a handful off the line, but would go like stink once it hooked up and started moving. We had a blast cruising Windsor Square and running the stoplight drags on Highway 25.
“Over the next couple of years, he went through the transmission, rear differential and suspension, finally installing rear tires meaty enough to take full advantage of that motor’s torque. Those were the days … “
EVANS: Larry Heath wrote: “It was available with numerous options and engine choices up to 427 cubic inches. The full-size car did not have the same muscle-car following as did the SS 396 Chevelles; however; there was an SS version available that could be made into an excellent performance car with the right option choices.”
Wayne Wilke wrote: “The car is a 1966 full-size Chevrolet; 1.2 million were sold that year, and 46 percent were Impalas. The rest were Caprices, Bel Airs or Biscaynes. The 283-cubic-inch V-8 was the most popular engine.”
FRANKLIN, N.C.: Dale A. Sanford wrote: “The auto pictured is a 1966 Chevy Impala SS convertible (this car has a white interior). The sales for the 1966 models dropped by 50 percent from the 1965 models, primarily because of increased interest in the Chevelle SS396 and Pontiac GTO intermediate-size- cars and the rise in pony cars.”
GROVETOWN: David Miles
KEYSVILLE, GA.: Glenn Widner wrote: “The time was 1966. Young men just out of high school and didn’t have a college deferment was about to be caught up in the giant maw of the military called ‘the Draft,’ because of the rapidly expansion of the Vietnam War. They could only dream of the day they were discharged and could buy a 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS, which this is, or, in my case, a 1968 Dodge Charger. Actually, this could be an Impala or Caprice. Time does fly.”
LINCOLNTON, GA.: John Tebeau
MARTINEZ: Jeff Miller wrote: “In ’66, Chevrolet jettisoned the 65’s triple round rear lights and went to a triple rectangular configuration.”
Jim Muraski wrote: “This was the first year that the Caprice was its own series, after being offered only as a trim option on the Impala the previous year.”
Larry Cirincione wrote: “The vintage car in this week’s paper is a 1966 Chevrolet Caprice. My first car was a canary yellow one with a black vinyl hardtop that I paid $50 for. The photo brought back a lot of memories.”
Christopher March wrote: “The Impala SS came with one of the following engines: L-30 327, 275 HP; L-35 396, 325 Hp; L-36 427, 390 HP; or the L-72 427, 425 HP.”
Also, Ed Lake and John Hayes
NORTH AUGUSTA: Tim Davis and David Frazier
TRENTON, S.C.: Cindy Shea
WATKINSVILLE, GA.: Joe Arp
NO CITY LISTED: Jim Griffin, Lamar King and Rucker Vaiden