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HomeCar CultureMy Classic Car: 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS L79

My Classic Car: 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS L79

Long gone but not forgotten

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First things first — no, I don’t have a picture. I probably had it at one time, but this was back in 1969-72, and I’ve moved several times since then. This wasn’t my first car, but it definitely was the nicest one ride I ever had, even though it was for just a short period of time.

1956 Chevrolet 150
(Cars pictured are not the actual ones from the story)

When I was 12, my dad told me, “In a few years, you’re going to get your driver’s license and you’re going to want a car. I’ll match whatever you have saved up.” So I got a paper route, plus in the summer I’d mow grass and in the winter I’d shovel snow. I gave Dad some of my earnings to put in the credit union. When I turned 16, I obtained my license and in November 1963 I bought a 1956 Chevrolet from a guy my dad worked with. It was a puke green two-door coupe with a six-cylinder and three-on-the-tree, but it was mine. It felt good to drive back and forth to school and to the local burger joint on the weekends — at 26.9 cents a gallon, no less.

When I graduated in 1965, LBJ was really ramping up that war. When you turned 18 and graduated from high school, you pretty much packed your bag — you were going on a field trip. I hung out that summer but knew my days were numbered, so in September I joined the Marines. My dad said that since I was going to be gone for four years, he’d sell the Chevy and I could send money home every month so that, when I came home, I could buy a really nice hot rod. So I did, and he did. After all, what did I need money for? The Marine Corp gave me free housing, free clothes, free food and even free ammo in Vietnam — twice. I was sending $125-140 home every month. When I got out in June 1969, I had a heap of wampum stored at the credit union.

(Cars pictured are not the actual ones from the story)

In April 1969, my dad told me he’d start looking around for something I might like, and he’d ask a couple of my uncles to tell him if they saw something. One of them found a car that he was pretty sure I’d be interested in, so my dad wrote me and told me about it. I wrote back and said I was extremely interested. “Buy it if you can!”

It belonged to a guy whom my uncle worked with. He bought it brand-new as a graduation present for his son when he graduated high school. The kid went to college, where he majored in beer and girls. He didn’t go to class, but he was cited for public drunkenness, speeding and DUIs. All of this resulted in the suspension of his driver’s license and expulsion from school … and the loss of his 2-S status with the draft board. Soon enough, he received his letter and was on his way to Fort Knox. Today his name is on the wall in Washington, DC.

(Cars pictured are not the actual ones from the story)

His dad put it in the garage in February 1967 and covered it with a tarp. When my uncle asked him about it, he said that he’d never touched it since. My uncle told him about me coming home in a couple of months and asked if he would be interested in selling it to me. The father said that, sure, if he could get it running and drivable, so my dad and he went over there and, in three days, my dad drove it to my uncle’s and put it on jackstands. They worked on it right up until I arrived home.

What was it?

A 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS, Ermine White with red and white checkerboard interior, 327/350, four-speed Muncie with 2.20 low gear, 12-bolt Positraction and newer Rally wheels. Bad-ass fast!

(Cars pictured are not the actual ones from the story)

I drove that little hot rod all over God’s creation and, on Friday nights, I’d go to Kil-Kare Dragway, then to Frisch’s at Forest Park, the local hangout for all the gearheads in Dayton (plus girls — lots of ‘em). It was the absolute best time of my life in many ways: a great car, lots of friends (especially girls) and racing, especially after four years in the Marines, two tours of Vietnam and legally being able to buy beer.  

I had found a job with Greyhound, as I had been a mechanic in the Marines. I also met a girl. And then she got pregnant, so that was the end of my hot rod/drag racing/Frisch’s days. I had to sell the car, find an apartment and start driving her 1966 six-cylinder Mustang.

But I still remember punching the gas pedal in that Nova to this day.

Steve R., Ohio

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4 COMMENTS

    • One day on my way home from work I saw 4 Chevrolet in a car lot picked the 62 as I went to pick it up after work at the time I was at lunch a friend of mine have me a ride got home just about dark one night my friends and I went to see the exercise we were on alesde we left when we got lot the drive in gate my car got stuck on revers and would not turn off that was one of my storys one day I went to Albuquerque metup with a other 62 he said he was looking for me all night another night in winter storm we found a babe in middle of street

  1. Here’s our story!!
    My husband has the perfect story to tell about his 66 Chevy Nova L79 (1 yr option) 350 HP, 327 cubic inch, big clutch, 12 bolt rear end, that he bought new.., He had it for approx 4yrs, & dearly loved it. We were dating at the time & one day he decided to trade it in for a new car.
    I remember crying when we handed over the keys, & neither of us could get that car off our minds.
    He wanted a new car every few yrs, & time went by….We got married, had 2 daughters, a business of our own, & life was good.
    Every time he got on his computer, he’d casually look for our ‘66 Nova L79. More time went by, we have been married since 1969, & low & behold, he sat down at his computer one night & just punched fin ‘66Nova L79…..& he found our original beautiful white Nova with blue interior, bench seats, 4 spd & more in Indiana!
    He was soo excited the hair on the back of his neck stood straight up when he realized that it was his car….even with some of the original papers from the dealership he purchased it from in our then hometown of Spokane WA!
    We live in Washington state, & that’s how the story begins!!!
    If you’re interested in hearing the rest of the story, I’d love you to talk to my hubby. It’s now sitting safely in our garage, just waiting for all the fun outings!

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