By on June 9, 2013

Considering the recent entries in my “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner”, it’s looking like I’m going to have to “go with the flow” and dig up another memory of my early automotive history for this entry in “Bodacious Beaters”.

This time the subject is the very first car I ever owned—and it was one of these: a 1966 Chevy II Super Sport with 283 cubic inches of Bowtie Smallblock under the hood, and the venerable two-speed aluminum Powerglide under the SS console shifter!

Aged 1966 Chevy II SS (3)

At the time, it was about the coolest automobile I could afford. A bit stodgy looking, in comparison to the popular “Pony Cars” of the day (read that: Mustang and Camaro); but an SS coupe nonetheless, sporting bucket seats, console shifter, and a real-live V-8 engine! Yeah, those features are fairly commonplace in today’s market, but back then they were something special. And taking into account the two cars I had trained in, and had previously had to come up with a decent excuse to borrow (I’m still amazed my Parents actually let THAT happen)—a late-50’s Ford Sedan with inline six and “three-on-the-tree” shifter, and a mid-sixties Ford Country Sedan S/W with a small V-8, column-shift automatic, and manual steering(!)—the SS was fairly a quantum leap in “special”!

Aged 1966 Chevy II SS (5)

Yes, it wasn’t particularly quick or fast—that Powerglide definitely not helping the cause in either department—and it didn’t handle anything like a sporting-type of car—although the lame “mono leaf” rear springs did provide a rather “jouncy” and otherwise unbalanced ride—but I just contented myself to crank up the in-dash stereo and cruise it. When I moved back East to NYC, my Parents—and subsequently my Sister—inherited it. She enjoyed it for sometime, cruising around the family’s new North Carolina digs, selling it when it needed more repairs than she cared to have performed. Got some good dough for it, even for back then in the ‘80’s.

Aged 1966 Chevy II SS (6)

So much for the memories—now to consider the example featured here in the photos: what appears to be also a 1966 Chevy II SS.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m especially attracted to exterior finishes that exude “character’. This one’s got that stuff “in spades”! Given the fact that the metal—under what’s left of what has to be at least a few paint jobs—is really not rusty beyond what is seen on the surface, this one has had to have spent a great deal of time in a very dry, very sunny area—such as the high Mojave desert or a similar place. I have a feeling the beautiful resulting patina will not continue for long in its new Los Angeles Beach City residence. Glad I caught it when I did—difficult lighting and all.

Aged 1966 Chevy II SS

I don’t know if it’s still got the original 283 (the front quarter flag badging indicating V-8 power, but not the 327, which sported additional displacement clarification), but it has most of the other identifying SS trim and equipment, as far as I can tell. Yeah, the seats have been upholstered in non-original vinyl, but that left rear quarter paint fade around the recently gone-missing badging makes up for that, nicely!

Aged 1966 Chevy II SS (1)

On this one, I might be tempted to do an interior, driveline, and chassis resto—but I’d leave the exterior finish alone. It took a lot of time and previous effort to get a Bodacious look like that, for sure!

Phil has written features and columns for a number of automotive periodicals and web-based information companies. He has run a successful Auto Repair Business in the past for many years (See “Memoirs of an Independent Repair Shop Owner” on this ttac site). He can be contacted through this very site, or

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26 Comments on “BODACIOUS BEATERS (and road-going derelicts): CHEVY II FADED...”

  • avatar

    Man, the paint erosion on many of the vehicles you and Murilee photograph is just a mind-bender to someone in the saltbelt.

    Nothing roadable up here ever shows that much sun damage because everything south of the door handles would have rusted away 20 years earlier.

    Chevy IIs and Novas always spoke to me because of their balanced and compact bodies. Always handsome and well proportioned, especially the 2drs.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in California right now. I saw an absolutely clean 87 or so IROC Camaro convertible. As well as various Hondas and such that died many years ago in my Rust Belt hometown.

      I found myself up early thanks to the time change and went for a walk. My hotel is located on the auto row. I found an 07 Mazda 5 that probably has more miles and less love than my 08. The inside of the wheel wells looked brand new! Just warps my rusty brain too. Same thing for the Carolina’s south and the southwest US.

    • 0 avatar

      Swedish sources once told me that the best two markets for finding classic American iron were Phoenix (best preservation) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (2nd best preservation but larger selection).

  • avatar

    Clear Coat and a mechanical restore – PERFECT! In my sordid mind, or what is left of it!

    • 0 avatar

      What makes you think clear coating this car will do what you want? I’ve seen this suggestion a few times on TTAC.

      Have you ever tried painting over rust?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Phil–My dad ordered one of the first Chevy IIs in Sept 61. Roman red, with red interior, straight 6 Powerglide, 300 series 4 door. My brothers drove it in high school, and then I drove it 9 years later in high school and part of college. Great memories.

  • avatar

    This looks like an easy restoration. I hope it doesn’t end up in the crusher.

    BTW, I always thought that the light 60s compacts….Chevy IIs, Falcons, Valiants, etc……would make great daily drivers. New paint, upholster, rehab the suspensions and drop in a modern 4 cylinder and modern transmission and you’d have a unique reliable car that gets over 30mpg.

  • avatar

    God, how I love chrome accents on 60’s hardtops.

  • avatar

    Restored cars only tell a story of how deep the owner’s pockets are. Or how much spare time they have. I’m more attracted to these road-going beaters in their natural patina.

    • 0 avatar

      “natural patina”

      This car does not have a uniform, protective chemical film like that formed on copper and bronze by exposure to atmosphere, the strictest meaning of “patina”.

      This car merely has a degradation of the factory provided coating material. Rather than protecting the metal beneath as does a real patina, this shrinking residue exposes it.

      Every definition I’ve checked does include a secondary or tertiary meaning that could embrace rotted paint or even skin cancer. But its use here seems to me an unwarranted elevation of neglect and defacment to the realm of classical art and architectural objects.

      In short, patina means a good thing.
      This is skank.

  • avatar

    “Balanced ” ~ I’m glad I’m not the only one who understands this long lost design concept .

    For the same reason I prefer the ’55 Chevies over ’56 & ’57 .

    I loved these admittedly stodgy little cars and had quite a few in the 1970’s , all with the I6 engine , a few Super Sports (RPO 347) . buy for nothing , tinker back to good health , drive ,get bored , wax & sell , do it all over again .

    Cheap , reliable ,fun to drive and easy to park made them sell boatloads to folks who didn’t want a Mustang nor Camaro but still wanted some style .

    When I cam to California in the Summer of 1969 , out in the Mojave Desert , right beside old Rt. 66 , were miles of piles of 1940’s & 1950’s cars unwanted , sun baked paint and upholstery ~ otherwise in VGC indeed ~ having grown up Down East I wasn’t ready for the incredible waste of all those wonderful old cars .


    • 0 avatar

      “For the same reason I prefer the ’55 Chevies over ’56 & ’57”

      Finally, someone else says that!
      I’ve always flipped for its bone-simple, Euro-like front end and tight overall proportions.

      YouTube has some swell old ads for the “1955 Motoramic Chevrolet!”

  • avatar

    Sweet – awesome material for a Ford powered restomod!!!!! Mustang II front end, sweet mod motor power feeding through a GT500 sourced TR6060 M6 and splitting the power to both rear wheels through a Ford 9 inch.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the great find! Back in the early 70s, I had a summer job that had me in company cars (usually the ones in their last summer before being junked). And one summer, I was assigned to about a 1968 Chevy II, six and Powerglide. It seemed to me that the car was OK in the mornings, then got sluggish and … well… smelly by mid-day. My manager didn’t believe me and he accompanied me on my route one day. Sure enough, after about 40 miles, it would only climb gentle slopes in low gear. Before he could find us a place to park it safely, the poor old Chevy caught fire and was never driven again. The company mechanic who towed the remains in suspected that the temperature idiot light had burned out and the thermostat stuck. Rest in peace, old Chevy II.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    An uncle of mine had the same car that he bought new. Turquoise outside and in with the SS package. Odd thing is even in SS trim which was buckets, wheel covers, emblems etc. it had the 230-6 with 3 on the tree. The fender emblems were the 230’s. Great car then in 77 he traded it in for Nova 2 dr in brown with dog dish hub caps.

    • 0 avatar

      Not as unusual as you might think ~ RPO 347 was for SS but , back then Chevrolet had *very8 comprehensive order sheets and in the Mid West , many SS Nova Chevy II’s were ordered thusly .

      I used to own a ’64 like this , apparently the 30 +/- Y.O. lady who bought it new , didn’t like the big chrome console & shifter….


  • avatar

    I had one of these powerglides in a 69 Nova. The one thing I remember is I could slam it into reverse while going forward and the transmission was none the worse for wear. Try that on your 9 speed transmission and see what happens. :-)

  • avatar

    That 6Rxxxx license plate indicates a relatively recent licensing in California, probably 2010. We’re just now getting to 7Axxxx plates. So, maybe the owner is serious about keeping it for the long haul.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    There’s a very thin line between patina and eyesore. I think this one’s crossed it.

    Someone please restore this car…

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    During the malaise era , bought two 1965 Malibu sedans , both with that combination of rust and ” patina ” , both with the 283 4 -barrel , one with three on the tree and one with Powerglide . Both pretty peppy ,not surprising as they only weighed 3000 lbs. , no doubt quicker in the lighter Chevy II body . One bought for $ 50 and the other for $125.Remember racing the underpowered newer cars of the late seventies , once a Porsche 924 , another time my boss in his 1976 Mustang II Cobra 302 , the Malibu’s bashed in trunk banging up and down as I flew over a railroad track . Smoked him , he said he was afraid of tearing off the Cobra’s front spoiler – no fears of that in my $ 50 Malibu. A week later , he gave me a crappy performance review . Ah , good times .

  • avatar

    Hey Phil! Great article, especially since this is my fave Nova in the South Bay! I ride my bike everyday and I see this nova almost everyday including prolly over 100 pix I have taken of it. I have actually met the owner of this car and he also owns that Purple Nova wagon. He showed up at the Summer Ruby’s Diner Friday night car show. He’s not what you think he is, but a very nice man. He did not bring the nova to the car show, but he was admiring my boyfriends 66 Nova at the carshow. I hope he brings it to the car show this year at least once. This article made my day!

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