1966 Chevrolet Impala Base (66 Chevy)
Last updated Aug 15, 2008
This was purchased as the family car in May 1966. My dad wanted a Pontiac Tempest but my mother didn't like it, so they settled on this car. I inherited the car in 1973 with 109,000 miles on the clock and an completely clapped out engine. I found a mechanic willing to rebuild it, and he had the smarts to cam it properly for the rear end it had. The car weighed 3700 pounds and would run like a scalded cat on the fresh engine. Unfortunately, by the time I got it the thing was a rustbucket, the upholstery was shot, and the springs were gone (it had a full turn busted out of the driver's side rear coil). Having NO money by that time (I was a student), I was faced with the choice of learning automotive mechanics or walking. I'd always heard that knowledge was power so I opted to learn. By the time I sold the car back to my dad (another 120,000 miles later) the body had been restored, the interior fixed, and the suspension completely replaced.
I had the chance to buy it back from him again for a measly $500 (I think he'd have taken $200) in 1996, but I was out of garage space and the car had 350,000 on the odometer. I wish I'd had space for it.
It had a 250 CID (bored out 0.060" to an actual 258 CID) with a three speed saginaw box shifted from the column. The reliable top speed was only about 95 MPH because it was as aerodynamic as a brick. But it would carry 6 people in comfort and had a huge back seat -- come to think of it, the bench front seat had a lot of horizontal space as well. ;)
The car had NO options on it whatsoever. No PS, no PB, no PW, no PDL, no AC, no radio. It had the poverty hub caps for 1966. It was basic transportation. It did, however, average 19.5 MPG even under my heavy foot.
Having no money, it had no aftermarket enhancements. Had it not been for the junkyard in West Terre Haute, IN, and the good ol' boy owners, it wouldn't have had the parts needed to keep it together. Many times they sold me parts for less than they had asked because they were literally taking my last dollar, and they couldn't turn me down. All the parts used on the car were genuine GM parts recycled from wrecks and junked 65-66 Chevys.
Because GM used such soft springs to give their cars a cushy ride, they all aged badly. I ended up using springs from a 283 Impala wagon in the front and from a 327 Impala station wagon equipped with a tow package in the rear. They gave the car a nice rake and greatly improved the handling.
Permanent Link to this Car