Winner of Best Stock Chevelle at the 2009 Super Chevy Car Show in Fontana.
Chevelles have been in my life ever since I graduated high school in 1964 in San Diego. My graduation present to myself was a brand new 1964 red El Camino with a 250 HP 327 and a 4 speed. I soon joined the Kings Men Car Club and began drag racing every weekend at Ramona Drag Strip. Soon Carlsbad Raceway opened and I continued my weekend drag racing. My 1964 El Camino ran 14:20’s at about 97 MPH.
In 1965 a friend of mine showed me his new 1965 Chevelle SS. It was dark blue with a light blue bucket seat interior. When he opened the hood, my jaw dropped open. His SS had a 350 HP 327 and a 4 speed. The chrome valve covers and chrome air cleaner along with the aluminum high rise manifold made me sick with envy. My 250 HP 327 soon had a new set of Corvette valve covers, but it just wasn’t the same.
In 1966 I made my final payment on my 1964 El Camino and sold it so I could buy a new 1966 Chevelle SS 396 (with chrome valve covers, air cleaner and an aluminum intake). My new Chevelle was red with red bucket seats, PS, PB, AM Radio, and a 375 HP 396 4 Speed.
Since I was already in a car club and drag racing every weekend, it didn’t take long to install 4:88 gears, a Hurst shifter, headers, a scatter shield, and a 40LB Schaefer clutch assembly. With 10″ M&H slicks the red Chevelle SS 396 was turning low 12.20’s around 116 MPH. And Monday through Friday it was driven to work every day.
For 3 years this car was the fastest street driven car in San Diego. The fastest dealer sponsored muscle cars in San Diego at the time were (1) a gold 1964 GTO belonging to Pete Kasey of Kasey Pontiac. It had a 421 HO motor and was trailered to the track from the dealership every weekend. (2) a red Oldsmobile 442 tri power from Brooking Olds that was trailered from the dealership every weekend. (3) a white Mercury Cyclone from Priestly Lincoln Mercury that was trailored to the track every weekend. (4) a white March Motors Mustang that was also trailered every weekend. These cars never beat my 375 HP Chevelle in any heads up race or in class or handicap elimination’s. Every weekend they would unload from the trailer and I would drive in off the street. Every weekend they would only see my taillights in eliminations. Needless to say there were many SS 396 Chevelles sold in San Diego in the late 60’s. My Friday night hangouts included the Burger Bar in Escondido and the A&W Drive In in Oceanside. On Saturdays I would be drag racing at Ramona, Carlsbad or OCIR.
In 1975 I took a job in Orange County. My 1966 SS 396 was changed into a highway commuter with 3:08 gears and a stock 360HP 396 motor. After a few months I moved to Orange County and traded the Chevelle for a Silver 427 Corvette (We all do dumb things once in a while). A year or so later the 427 Corvette was sold to a friend and a newer rubber bumper Corvette was bought. This Corvette was eventually traded for a 1968 Z28 Camaro that needed a motor and trans. The Camaro was fitted with a blueprinted LT1 350 and sat in my garage for 15 years. I never really liked driving the car or working on it. It was just a good deal and a good looking car.
In the fall of 1998, a good friend of mine from Ventura (Frank Sanez) was asking me about the Camaro. Frank restores muscle cars, and had helped me find the Camaro. We were talking about my old 1966 Chevelle and I told him how I missed the car and in fact still had my 375 HP 396 motor sitting in my garage. A few weeks later Frank called me and said he knew of a red 66 SS that used to be the fastest Chevelle in Ventura during the same time frame my Chevelle was racing in San Diego.
Frank gave me the number of a guy named Scott who had bought the 1966 red SS 396 Chevelle from Ventura in 1970 and shortly after moved to Palmdale. I called Scott and asked if he still had the car (he did) and asked if I could come up and see it. Scott told me he purchased the car with a blown motor and had kept it in a storage garage since the early 70’s.
I drove to Palmdale for a look and after spending a hour moving stuff out of the storage garage soon found a dirty, dusty “brother” to my red Chevelle. The outside was very dusty, but the windows were rolled up tight and the interior looked and smelled almost new. It had a wood grain 2 spoke steering wheel and a black bucket seat interior. The 4 speed console was sitting upside down on the back seat and looked new.
Both original license plates were face down on the floor. The front plate had never had a bug splattered on it because it was a drag race car. (When I went to register the car, the DMV at first thought the plates were fakes because they looked so new.)
The original leather key fob was in the ignition along with the keys. I also have the original leather key fob from my 1966. The glove box had the original owner’s manual and protect 0 plate. The odometer read 20,045 miles!
Scott knew I had fallen in love big time, the emotions were too hard for me to hide. I guess doing cartwheels before negotiating a sale price is not the best approach. This was a rare find and I was going to be an owner no matter what it cost. I went back the next weekend to pickup the car. Frank offered to help get the car cleaned up, detailed, and running. I started rebuilding the 396 375HP. Needles to say the 1968 Camaro had to go to help pay for the new car and work needed.
Frank had lived in Ventura all his life and was always into cars even back into the 60’s. His circle of friends came up with a few old pictures of the red 66 SS 396 racing and at car shows around Ventura. These pictures complement the dozens of race pictures I have of my red SS.
The drag racing lettering was sanded off the car but I decided to leave the original paint as is. It is not perfect, but it is original. If you look close, you can still see where a lot of the old drag racing lettering was. The gold flames on the roof were too thick to take a chance sanding off, so I decided to leave them on. I didn’t like them at first but they are growing on me. All the kids in my neighborhood love them and think they look cool.