NOT JUST AN OPTION PACKAGE ANYMORE. For the first time since its inception in 1964, the Super Sport, now the SS396 with new big block power, was considered as a seperate model line from the standard Chevelle by Chevrolet. They even got their own model numbers, the SS396 Coupe as #13817, and the SS396 Convertible was #13867. And as before, Super Sport Coupes and Convertibles started out as high-line Chevelle Malibus, with all that that included.
A COOL NEW HOOD. With the new body came a new hood, and the SS396 hood sported twin chromed ‘grilles’ running lengthwise. They were non-functional, purely for looks. But seeing them helped to immediately identify the car as an SS396 and not a civilian Chevy Chevelle.
1966 CHEVY CHEVELLE GETS A NEW SKIN…AGAIN. Once again, the entire Chevelle/Malibu line was reskinned. And it grew in nearly every dimension, including weight. But the power was also growing, more than fast enough to keep up with the added bulk. The new car had a heavier, more muscular look to it also, with a more sculpted shape, especially on the rear quarters, just aft of the doors. It was taking on a decidedly more “Coke bottle-shape”, so popular in the 60s. Now the back side windows kicked up ever so slightly. The new 2-door hardtop body featured a ‘flying buttress’-style roof treatment. When viewed from behind, the rear window is inset into a hollow created by the trailing edge of the roof and the C-pillars, which extend farther back onto the truck surface.
BEEFED UP SUSPENSION. For the Super Sport or SS package itself, the Chevelle received suspension upgrades in the form of higher-rate springs, recailibrated shocks all around, a thicker from anti-sway bar (stabilizer), F70 X 14 wide oval tires and SS-specific interior and exterior trim and of course those lovely SS emblems. The new body was in a style that Chevy chose to call the Sport Coupe a “Strut Back” and gave it its own body style number, 17. This would last only until the next body change for the 1968 model year.
1966 CHEVY CHEVELLE INTERIORS. On the interior, the usual SS elements were there: vinyl bucket seats, a center console, a floor shifter, and special trim and SS396 badging. The console could mount a tachometer in the front, under the dash. A very cool look, but not so easy to see when you’re trying to race, shift an not crash at the same time. The new Chevelle felt bigger inside than before. By today’s standards, these ‘mid-sized’ cars were big. Today’s full-sized cars barely compare.
1966 CHEVY CHEVELLE GETS BIG BLOCK POWER. But the big news was under the hood. For the next few years, the Chevelle SS would have big block power and would be known as the SS396 (or the SS454 a few years later when the larger engine became available). For 1966, the Chevelle SS came standard with a 325hp 396 big block. There were two other 396 V8s available as options, one with 360hp and the other with 375hp.
1966 Chevy Chevelle SPECIFICATIONS
Optional 6 cyl
Front-engine, rear-drive passenger car
194ci OHV I-6, 120hp, 170 lb/ft
230ci OHV I-6, 140hp, 220 lb/ft
283ci OHV V8, 220hp, 195 lb/ft
327ci OHV V8, 275hp, 355 lb/ft
396ci OHV V8, 325hp, 410 lb/ft
396ci OHV V8, 360hp, 420 lb/ft
396ci OHV V8, 374hp, 415 lb/ft
3-speed manual, column-shift & floor-shift
3-speed w/overdrive (Muncie)
4-speed manual, floor-shift (Muncie, Saginaw)
2-speed Powerglide automatic
3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic 350
Full-perimeter w/torsion boxes, body-on-frame
Independent w/upper & lower control arms & coil springs