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  • #7728
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 Restoration at V8 Speed & Resto Shop

    This cool 1966 Chevelle is the second for it’s owner Larry Frees, who might be familiar as the caretaker of the “Mr. Chevy” 1955 Chevy gasser and hauler ramp truck. He had a Marina Blue ‘66 many years ago, and this car will serve to be the “jumping off point” from where his old ‘66 left off. Larry provided us with the beginning of the restoration story as it unfolds in the V8 Speed & Resto Shop.

    From Larry:

    “One of my favorite personal cars ever was a popular color of a popular series of a popular model, a ’66 Marina Blue SS396 Chevelle.

    Here is a picture of my ‘66 SS 396 Chevelle. There are also a couple pictures of me setting the 30-30’s hot.

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-5qZu5rDDTAk/V039FiiwDcI/AAAAAAACCuI/Q7w-g1eoTyIIj8hl2Pc6NXztajv32NlGwCHM/s1600/1966_Chevelle_LF_05-31-16_0006.JPG%5B/IMG%5D

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

    #7729
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    Larry adds:

    “I wasn’t actively looking for a replacement thirty years later but when I happened to run across a ’66 Marina Blue SS396 I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to own one again. I happened to run across a true 138 car that had a disassembled ’67 396 replacement engine and it was missing the transmission. I had a spare Muncie transmission at home under the workbench and the car had a buy me NOW price. The body was nice looking just as it was. The plan was to put the motor back together add the transmission and GO, I should have it running in under two months, or so I thought. If I had stuck to my original plan I would now have a running SS396 with very little invested.”

    “I started working on the car right away. I pulled the front end off the car to detail under the hood and make engine installation easier. One thing led to another and before I know it the body is on a rotisserie and the frame is at the powder coater. I took the body to a body shop to correct some minor problems from rust and previous repair. In the meantime I worked on the engine-undercarriage. Less than a year later I had a powder coated frame setting on a disc brake, air bagged frame. A full roller, Brodix headed 396 bored to 402 with a Richmond five speed overdrive transmission setting in the frame was ready to roll. “

    “It was at this point two other large projects forced their way into my priorities. The first was a building overhaul for a nicer place to work on the Chevelle. I would have a little time for this project since the chevelle was fill in work for the body shop. The second project that forced its way into my life was the hauler for “Mr. Chevy”. That is a complete other story, so much so that I wrote a book about it. Health problems, a change of ownership, and shift of priorities changed the situation at the body shop also. Before I know it eight years have passed and it is now time to re-focus on the Chevelle.

    As I re-entered the Chevelle project I contacted Kelle and Kevin Oeste, the owners of V8 Speed & Resto who did a fantastic job bringing Mr. Chevy’s hauler back to life. After assessing the start of the project and visualizing the objective, it was decided to completely replace the lower rear half of the body.

    One thing that I have noticed since I have started the Chevelle project again is the bigger selection of restoration parts. I had a list of parts that were not available from suppliers of restoration parts that I would have to keep an eye for at swap meets, parts that would be used but better than what came with the car. I have come to realize that I will be able to build a better car, easier. The Chevelle is being built to look like an original car with some upgrades to make it a comfortable, reliable, muscle car it is.”

    We look forward to bringing the ‘66 back to life for Larry and invite you to follow along here!

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

    #7730
    Mike Clarke
    Member

    So cool!!! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and chatting with Larry at last year’s Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals. Super nice guy who was more than happy to answer all of my questions about the Mr Chevy hauler.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

    #7733
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    So cool!!! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and chatting with Larry at last year’s Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals. Super nice guy who was more than happy to answer all of my questions about the Mr Chevy hauler.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk

    Yes, he’s a very cool guy who always takes a moment to chat about cars (or whatever) and takes a genuine interest in others as well. We’ll get him to chime in here on the board as we build this car.

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

    #7740
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    Larry began the work by pulling the body off the frame and restoring the chassis. It’s been cleaned and painted, and he installed a complete RideTech air suspension system including their Strong Arm tubular control arms.

    New disc brakes were used to help the Chevelle stop, and all new brake and fuel lines were added as well. The steering linkage has all been refreshed.

    The engine is a warmed-over 396 featuring Brodix heads, and aluminum intake and a mild cam, and it’s hooked to a Richmond 5-speed manual transmission.

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

    #8219
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    The Chevelle arrived in our shop as a body on a rotisserie, and we took a couple laps around the body to see what was up. It had been at a different shop getting some work done on it many years ago, but today, Larry wanted the sheetmetal work to be turned up a couple notches.

    A new driver quarter panel was loosely screwed in place, but the fit was never finalized.

    Same with the deck filler panel, it was just set on the body.

    Note the rust holes in the sail panel.

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

    #8220
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    The leading edge of the quarter panel was cut off, making install difficult.

    Inside the wheel tub, a jigsaw puzzle of patches were roughed-in, but they were not quite to the customer’s liking.

    It was determined that the best course of action was to do some sheetmetal surgery with some new parts from OPGI.

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

    #8221
    V8 Staff
    Keymaster

    The firewall had an opening for the stock heater box, but we planned on converting this car to a Vintage Air system for integrated heat and air conditioning.

    Adam trimmed the opening, then brewed up a close-out panel with the Mittler Brothers bead roller that added a little style to the firewall.

    The original panel was cut on the bottom, and the upper seam was drilled and separated at the original spot weld locations.

    The new panel is TIG welded in place, and the butt-welded seams are metal finished smooth.

    The panel is metal finished on the inside of the car as well.

    Check out:
    V8 Radio Podcast: https://www.v8radio.com
    V8TV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/V8TV

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