1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 (Meatball 1)
Last updated Oct 31, 2011
I bought this on 5/19/68 from the original owner who was about to loose his commercial drivers license from street racing too many times. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was an original 360hp, 4spd, 4:10s from the factory with Keystones all around. It was stolen in 1970 while I worked night shift. I got it back a few weeks later. Found in the woods by the cops, totally stripped. I bought it back from the insurance company and bought a used drive train with the money they gave me. I started racing it not too long after. It’s had a colorful assortment of engines over the years and a bunch of different four speeds. I had the first vertical-gate shifter in my area. They are great! I was running a pretty much stock 396/325 with headers and a 427/400 tri-power setup, good for 13.1s all day on 7” cheater slicks. Hurt that motor when it broke an oil line driving home from the track. Put in an L88 I picked up. Had roller rockers and big tube Hookers with 4:88s and went 11.8s on 8” tires while still street driven. That was bad-assed in 1970. Took it off the street and bought a hood, put on a TR2X and 2-660s, a bit more cam, 5.13s, and I was running 11 teens in B/MP. The record was 10.91 so I did ok for a local guy. Then some smartasses named Sox and Martin bumped it to 10.30s. So much for competitive. That was around when Bill Wilcom started Heavy Eliminator at 75&80. The first bracket program I know of and it was custom made for me. If I didn’t break something I would always do real well. Won a lot of trophies with it. I broke the rear a couple of times at York US30. Much better traction there. I had it going 11 flats with the 8” tires and was burning up clutches. I knew I needed to lighten the car but I couldn’t bring myself to cut it up. I bought a firebird that had burned up..litterally…and built Meatball II.
Best et was in 1971 at 75-80. 11.00 at 124 driving thru the clutch. 427 L88 w/2-660s, Super T-10, 5.13s, 8" tire. Will go much faster with new drive train but I don't want to cage it.
Car was original 360hp, 4spd, 4.10 rear from the factory. Only other option was the knee knocker tach.
After I rebuilt it mechanically it needed the body repaired and paint. The thieves rolled it on its side when they stripped it. There was a fella working out of an old tire recapping shop near our farm who drank a lot. Some of the guys said he could really paint and did good work if sober so….I asked if he’d be interested in fixing my car and putting a metalflake paint job on it. I think he was surprised anyone would trust him with a nice car and we agreed on a color (something close to Marina blue of course) and what to replace, etc. He then told me he could do it all for around $350. That was CHEAP, even then, if the car turned out, so I was a little concerned but I’ll tell you what….it took a couple weeks but man it turned out beautiful, especially at the extremely reasonable price…$350 flat. After that he became very busy and did real well for himself. The car stayed that color until 87 although a bit rough by then. I’d bought a stock hood when I started to race it and, since I worked in sheetmetal, I made an exact replica of the “Grumpy lump” so I could run a tunnel ram. In B/MP it looked real good…had a set of Cragars all around. The light weight 4”ones on the front, which are might rare now, with Stahl tires. When I redid it in 87, it finally had all the old paint taken off and the usual Chevelle repairs. Windshield and rear window foundations had to be redone. My friend, Danny McCardle, found probably the last existing real GM rear quarterpanel. The left side had been damaged pretty bad when stolen. Bought what new trim I needed and the car turned out immaculate. I had installed a 1970 Corvette LS6 454 prior to the paint but changed my mind and freshened up the L88. Cut the pistons to make a little more gas friendly, 11to1, took out the roller and installed a flat tappet. With the ported heads it was still a stout combination. I changed the engines in Dans garage while he had the front end off, prepping it for paint. He said he’d never had anyone do that before. Besides, you could get a 427 in a 66 if you punched the right codes on the order sheet so it seemed appropriate. I put on a set of Keystone Vortecs, which looked very close to Centerlines, and it looked sharp. I left it like that until about 5 or 6 yrs ago. The motor was getting a little tired ( I drive it) so my sons helped me change her around a bit. They bought me all the Hotchkiss parts for Christmas. I installed a power disc conversion and a 79 Z-28 power steering box along with the swaybars and urethane bushings, 2” spindle drop, Weld draglites..15x8 and 15X10 with BFGs. I had Moser narrow one of their nice 12 bolt housings to my specs so I had to weld on the link perches. This was so I could run 3” backspacing on the rear. They said it wouldn’t work but all I had to do was relocate the shock mounts to the opposite sides and TA DA. Plenty of room for 295-50-15. Well, not plenty, but enough. Everyone thinks it’s mini-tubbed but it’s stock with a lip trim. I de-tuned an old Comp eliminator 493” that I had because it was just too nice a motor to scrap. Ordered the new crank it needed from Ohio, .100 offset grind on rod journals makes them 2.100 (sbc) with a 4.100 stroke. BME 6.345 rods, Arias pistons, T&D wrist pins, all roller valve train and those old Chevy “C” port pro stock heads (this was a mid 80s comp eliminator setup) and a TALL single plane. Ram clutch, Tremac TKO600 and that thing would haul ass….after you got up to 4000 rpm or so….pain in the butt in slow traffic. That had to go. I have a Vintage air kit going in and a 555” Dart “Big M” with Edelbrock rectangular port, cnc’d heads that have been show polished, Team G with a 1050, SRP pistons that I will have to massage a little for plug clearance on those heads, Carillo rods, and a host of accompanying goodies. I bought almost all of these engine parts off e-bay and some at Carlisle Pa. Been scrounging for a couple years but its gonna be real nasty and real, pump gas, street friendly. Computer says about 850+ at the crank at 7500. My kind of fun and yeah, I do all my own work except the paint. That's the only way an old farm guy can afford it.
Permanent Link to this Car