Exploring the Timeless Beauty of the 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS All-Original Survivor

Although the first American compact car, the Nash Rambler, arrived in 1950, the Big Three didn’t join the segment until about a decade later. In 1959, Ford rolled out the Falcon, and Plymouth introduced the Valiant. Chevrolet also launched the Corvair, which was significantly different than the competition due to its rear-engined layout.

1966 Chevrolet Nova SS L79 10 photos

Photo: DezzysSpeedShop/YouTube

When the Falcon outsold the Corvair by a ratio of 2.3 to one in 1960, Chevrolet realized it needed a proper compact with a front-engined configuration. Created in just 18 months, the Chevy II Nova went into production in August 1961.

Like most early compacts, the Nova did not tackle the performance market. Until 1964, when the brand-new Chevelle began steering customers away from the compact, the Nova did not get a V8 engine. But by the end of the decade, the Chevy II had morphed into a proper muscle thanks to the big-block 396-cubic-inch (6.5-liter) V8.

The latter was introduced in 1968 when the SS trim morphed into a performance package. The mill was offered in two guises, generating 350 and 375 horsepower, respectively. However, the 1968 Nova wasn’t the first Chevy II to hit showrooms with more than 300 horses. The first-year second-gen model of 1966 featured a small-block V8 with 350 horsepower.

Heavily overshadowed by the SS 396 and somewhat forgotten nowadays, the 327-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) L79 put the Nova SS on par with hot intermediates like the Pontiac GTO and Oldsmobile 442. It was also quicker than the non-Shelby Ford Mustangs available at the time. It’s also among the rarest Novas ever made.

Following a slow 1965 model year, the freshly redesigned Chevy II moved 172,485 examples in 1966. Nearly 21,000 of those cars were ordered in SS trim, and 10,589 were equipped with the 327 V8. However, only 3,547 units got the beefed-up, 350-horsepower version of the small-block unit. And needless to say, far fewer than that are still in one piece in 2023.

The black example you see here is one of the lucky ones. And the fact that it’s an unrestored and unmolested survivor makes it one of only a few that soldiered on in this condition. Moreover, it’s not a barn find, either. This Nova SS runs and drives and comes out of the garage regularly.

Documented by YouTube’s “DezzysSpeedShop,” this L79 is as unassuming as they get. Finished in black and sporting a red interior, it looks more like a daily commuter rather than a high-performance pony. It’s a fully-fledged sleeper that proudly displays battle scars, just how I like them.

And yes, the 327 V8 and the four-manual gearbox are both of the numbers-matching variety. Moreover, the engine is healthy and sounds amazing when sipping gasoline. Check it out in the video below because you won’t see another one like it anytime soon. 

Related Posts

The Top 10 Most Iconic Vehicles in the History of Cinema

Famously known as the Ectomobile or the Ecto-1, the automobile of the Ghostbusters is none other than the heavily modified 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor. This reskinned Cadillac station…

1962 Chevy Impala SS: 10 Fascinating Features That Make It a Classic Icon

The 1962 Impala SS was not light by any means, weighing in at 3,450 pounds straight off the assembly lines without any added options. In 1962 NHRA…

Powerhouse Pickups of the ’70s: 10 Rugged Trucks That Ruled the Roads

In the early part of the ’70s, many carmakers were still of the mindset that there was no replacement for displacement. This was a common mantra spoken…

10 Forgotten Things About The Once Great 1970 Ford Torino Cobra – The Highlight Lies in the Number 5, Which Surprises Everyone

It would be thought that a car with all this going for it would sell very well, such as the Ford Mustang, which sold 190,727 vehicles. The…

10 Insider Facts About the 1964 Chevrolet Nova SS – Most Especially Point Number 5 Everyone Should Understand Clearly

One of the biggest downfalls for a company in the car industry is when they spend time and money to introduce a new model to the lineup,…

10 Must-Know Facts About the 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I Cobra Jet

For a mere $155 in 1969, the Drag Pack could be added to the Mach I Cobra Jet Mustang, boosting it to become a Super Cobra Jet…