1966 SS 396 Chevelle Barn Find and legendary street racer with 427


When guys in small-town Virginia guerilla-raced hot American iron on public roads to incredible speeds that would make 200 mph NASCAR racing on a track today feel like a Sunday drive in the early 1970s, the rusted Keystones on this run-down SS396 could talk to us.

Yes, this 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle is a genuine SS396; but, Jonathan Large, a local aficionado, was more concerned with the car’s local history.

The sight of this Chevelle off Dobyns Road outside the sleepy mountain hamlet of Claudville, Virginia, amused many people, including him.

“Yes, everyone noticed it. Since 1980, the car has been parked below the hay shed on a side road, according to Jonathan.

“The father refused to sell it. Then he gave it to his son Mark four years ago.

What’s up with that car? would be Jonathan’s standard question whenever he would cross paths with Mark Heath. Will you market it for sale?

David, Mark’s father, who graduated from Blue Ridge High School in 1968, purchased the Chevelle in 1973, several years after he had returned from serving in Vietnam.

“I handed my son it. He intended to restore it, but because he was just starting a family and buying a house, he couldn’t afford to do so, David explains.

“I handed my son it. He intended to restore it, but because he was just starting a family and buying a house, he couldn’t afford to do so, David explains.

Jonathan can still clearly remember the evening in 2015 when Mark Heath called to inquire about buying the Chevelle.

“I said, ‘I’m out of town,'” Should I return home tonight? ”

Mark was aware of Jonathan’s intense desire for the car. No need to head home right away.

David appreciated that Jonathan had purchased the vehicle to “restore and put back in good shape.”

The history of this Chevy as a local legend from street racing in the 1970s is what intrigues Jonathan the most.

“When I was discharged from the military, I purchased a 1971 SS Chevelle with a 454. David says, “I requested a 425, but for some reason I could only receive a 365hp Super Sport.

In the little Virginia town of Stuart, David purchased this vehicle from Stanley Chevrolet, the dealership owned by his uncle. David had previously received a cancellation notice from his insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, before he crashed this Chevelle.

Back at his uncle’s business, David discovered a 1966 Chevelle SS396 that was hotter than any brand-new vehicle right off the showroom floor. A 25-year-old male had a difficult time getting insurance back then, especially after totaling a muscle car.

David was required to pay for liability insurance only and title the Chevelle in his mother’s name. Then,

We all met at the old post office after our Saturday night dates returned home at 11 o’clock.

The Claudville Highway, also known as Highway 103, included a quarter-mile straight section (unusual for mountain roads) that came to a stop before a two-lane iron bridge crossing the Dan River.

There was a large, mature poplar tree where we began. And there would be a small line. Before the bridge, a quarter of a mile remained. But we would engage in a road race. Starting from that tree and continuing past the bridge, we would run for almost five kilometres.

David heavily tuned the 325-horsepower 396 to compete with the “heavy’s” driving Hemis and 428 Cobra Jet big-blocks.

I really worked for my uncle down there while running it stock for a long. On the side, he participated in racing. He completed all the head work, changed the cams, intakes, carburetion, and headers. I ran that engine for, oh, a year or two before blowing it up and ordering a 427 to replace it.

Racing a 1970 Mustang equipped with a 428 Cobra Jet, David destroyed the 396.

“I hit that bridge while spinning around 6,000 in fourth gear. It was hard. The automobile lifted off the ground, over-revved, and popped a rod thanks to those sturdy lifters. Fortunately, it didn’t lock up on me.

Heath would have the 427 if

With the 427, Heath would create a Chevelle that was even more outlandish and modified for “straight-out speed,” with the high compression, 103-octane 427 timed by a cam that didn’t smooth out until 3,000 rpm.

“That was back when we didn’t give unusual muscle vehicles a second thought. Speed was a big part of our upbringing, especially in our area. We were raised on drug dealing, smuggling alcohol, and driving fast automobiles. That was the purpose of the nation.

Five kilometers of two-lane racing at high speed took place on the other side of the bridge.

For a top-end race, David remembers how great a set of 3.73s in the Posi rearend performed.

“With that thing, you could kick it into fourth gear and go like 60 mph,”

Power steering was not permitted. David and other guys would power slide around corners. Their power steering was that.

The two-lane road generally curled on the opposite side of the bridge. A “couple more straights” come to mind for passing chances, says David.

We referred to it as top-end racing. To tell you the truth, it was pretty wild.

Was there a lot of traffic on this two-lane road and historic bridge?

“Traffic was relatively light after midnight or around 11 p.m. In those days, there might have been 25 to 30 men watching the drag races in a little pull-off area.

Jonathan Large completed his high school education in 1987, but he has memories of the 1970s thanks to David Heath and his Chevelle. Buying is not enough

1966 chevrolet chevelle interior

The Chevelle came from the factory with the knee-knocker tachometer. The four-speed Muncie was intact.

“My son has the 427,” declared David Heath. Should the 427 that he purchased brand-new from Chevrolet in 1977 be used to rebuild this car? Jonathan Large, the vehicle’s current owner, spoke with the mechanic who added the 427 to the Chevelle in the beginning. He claimed that the 1967 Corvette with a 435-horsepower 427 with Tri-power was the fastest car he had ever driven, with this Chevelle coming in second.


Those aged Keystones could talk, if only. From 1980 until David Heath delivered the car to his son four years ago, the Chevelle was stored behind a hay shed. Before he had the opportunity to purchase the car, Jonathan had already taken these pictures.



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