1966 Chevrolet Impala Convertible - Sale Pending
     
  • Overview & History
  • Specifications
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If you want just one car that does everything well and even impresses your significant other, this Impala deserves a closer look.

The great thing about this job is that we get to try a wide variety of cars, and we’re often surprised and sometimes disappointed. Cars that we’ve admired for years show up and turn out to be less than anticipated, but sometimes—sometimes—something shows up and is unexpectedly excellent. The latter is certainly true of our relationship with 1966 Chevrolet Impala convertibles. This handsome Madeira Maroon ragtop is the third such car we’ve had in as many years and like the other two, we have discovered that it’s one of the very best all-around hobby cars you can own. Handsome, competent, comfortable, reliable, and surprisingly affordable. If you want just one car that does everything well and even impresses your significant other (who will find it easy to drive, too!), this Impala deserves a closer look.

There are a few important points to make up front about this pretty ragtop. One, it’s not a real Super Sport; it’s coded as a 164 Impala convertible not a 168 Impala SS. However, it is interesting because it carries a factory-installed code 813 black bucket seat interior, which was exclusive to the SS—how that happened, we don’t know, but there it is coded right on the cowl tag. Two, it’s loaded, including ice cold factory A/C, power windows, power disc brakes, power steering, and a power convertible top. Three, it has been restored in its original color combination, including the handsome white top, which gives it some great contrast. And finally, every indication suggests that’s the original 327/275 horsepower engine living under the hood, and it runs superbly. This is A LOT of car for the money!

We don’t know when the restoration was done or by whom, but they clearly started with a very clean, straight Imp—just look at the quarter panels, never mind the absolutely spotless undercarriage! It was built in Doraville, Georgia, which suggests that the original owner was down south and it likely stayed there most of its life given the overall condition of the sheetmetal. The code N Madeira Maroon paint is quite nicely done and presents well, although the trunk’s finish looks a little dry and there’s a small scratch down low on the right rear quarter. Nothing major, but not quite up to the high standards of the rest of the car. Don’t obsess over it, because the car looks fantastic from any angle and the fit and finish measure up, and certainly at this price. Doors fit well and close with reassuring firmness, the hood doesn’t fight you, and there are only very minor signs of use throughout. It was nicely restored and someone has obviously taken very good care of it since then. The chrome bumpers are in excellent condition, along with the stainless trim, and the car is equipped with a decklid-mounted antenna and optional bumper guards for a slightly sportier look. The aforementioned Super Sport badges aren’t correct for this car, but it earns the ‘327’ emblem on the front fenders honestly.

The black bucket seat interior appears to be correct for this car and has been beautifully restored using correct materials and patterns throughout. The seats are firm and supportive, the carpets are brand new, and the door panels have the right look with ornate-looking tufted patterns. Of note, this car is loaded with options, including the center console with auxiliary gauges, factory A/C that’s fully operational, and power windows that do work, although they’re a little slow sometimes due to the brand new weather seals that are still pretty tight. The steering wheel is in beautiful condition and those of you with sharp eyes will spot the shifter, which now has detents for three forward gears instead of the original two, thanks to a TH350 3-speed automatic transmission replacing the original PowerGlide. Remarkably, even the clock works and the factory AM radio pulls in stations loud and clear. About the only thing that isn’t fully operational is the temperature gauge, which seems to be intermittent—probably a sending unit issue. Hit the switch and the code 1 white power convertible top raises itself into position and latches without a fight, and the rear window is still clear, suggesting that the top is not very old. A correct black boot is included and the trunk is properly detailed with a reproduction mat and full-sized spare with jack assembly.

Chevrolet wasn’t stamping VINs on engines under 300 horsepower in 1966, but there’s every indication that the 327 cubic inch V8 in this car is the original L30 powerplant. The stamping pad shows TI211HCH, which decodes as follows:

T: Tonawanda, NY assembly plant
1211:December 11, 1965 assembly date
HC: 1966 L30 327/275 horsepower V8, PowerGlide, no smog
H: Holley carburetor

All Impala L30s were rated at 275 horsepower in 1966 and came with a 4-barrel carburetor and single exhaust. This one appears to have been rebuilt to stock specs and runs superbly, starting quickly without a lot of prodding and idling well, hot or cold. It’s very correctly detailed, with a factory air cleaner assembly, A6 compressor for the A/C system, and even nice details like properly stamped hoses with tower hose clamps. Chevy Orange paint on the block adds some bright contrast to the engine bay and it even still runs cast iron “ram’s horn” exhaust manifolds. Notable upgrades here include R134a refrigerant in the A/C system, so it’s easy to service in the future, and a dual master cylinder with a proportioning valve for the front disc brakes.

The photos tell the full story on this car underneath, where it’s absolutely spotless. We can’t find any evidence of patches or replacement panels, as even the factory spot welds are clearly evident and the braces are untouched. It’s just beautifully done. There are a few minor signs of use, of course, but there’s no doubt that this is an incredibly solid, clean southern car. The aforementioned TH350 3-speed automatic is a nice upgrade over the PowerGlide and snaps through the gears with authority and the original 10-bolt rear end has easy-cruising gears inside, which we believe are 3.08s. All 327s in 1966 came with a single exhaust system, so the dual exhaust isn’t quite correct, but it’s nicely installed and has a nice sound, not aggressive but certainly powerful. New shocks, fresh rubber bushings, and new brake components make it ride and handle almost like a new car. Correct SS hubcaps are fitted to 14-inch steel wheels and they wear fresh 215/75/14 whitewall radials with only a few hundred miles on them.

As you can see, we’re extremely pleased with this car. It reminds us why we love Impalas so much and there’s obviously far, far more than the asking price wrapped up in the restoration. Add in the luxury features, the smart upgrades, and a great color combination, and the result is a summertime ragtop that will fit in anywhere it goes. Call today!

Vehicle: 1966 Chevrolet Impala Convertible
Price: Sale Pending
Stock Number: 114134
Mileage: 13,610
VIN: 164676D129496
Engine: 327 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.08
Wheelbase: 119 inches
Wheels: 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 215/75/14 whitewall radial
Exterior Color: Madeira Maroon
Interior Color: Black vinyl
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