The Story of Original Parts Group’s 1966 SS 396 Chevelle


Why the Original Parts Group’s 1966 SS396 Chevelle has so many rare options will forever remain a mystery. When purchased from the proverbial “little old lady” from San Diego, the Chevelle was a real SS 396 originally built with the rare and desirable L34 360hp 396ci option, but what a heap. Rust, missing parts, and body damage made it a project, not for the faint of heart. “It was so bad I didn’t know whether we’d even try to restore it,” says OPGI owner Dave Leonard. “We parked it in the warehouse and went on restoring other, easier cars.” It sat there for years. 
With the reluctant decision to restore it for the 2006 SEMA Show, research revealed its rarity. The L34 396 engine always made it desirable, but with over 24,000 Chevelles made with this option, not so rare. The power windows and four-way bucket seats are another story. Only 3,164 1966 Chevelles were ordered with power windows and even fewer (only 587), with four-way bucket seats. Other interesting options include the special gauge package with separate tachometer, power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, and simulated wood grain steering wheel. The L34 option was the most powerful engine you could order in 1966 with air. The previous owner got a fast, comfortable, option-laden hot rod.

In 2005 the Chevelle was sent off to J&H Restorations in Riverside, California, where the frame-off restoration began. Dave Leonard always wanted an authentic L34 396ci SS Chevelle, built the way he might have ordered back in 1966. With that idea, the interior and exterior colors deviate from original but make for a striking presentation. Artesian Turquoise paint combined with the two-tone turquoise interior was chosen over the original Lemonwood Yellow exterior and ivory insides. The red-stripe 14-inch tires add just the right visual sizzle. For drivability, a 700R4 automatic overdrive transmission was chosen over the original two-speed Powerglide automatic.

Nearly all of the parts manufactured for 1966 Chevelles by OPGI can be found on this restoration. The Chevelle was unveiled at the 2006 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and was awarded the prestigious GM Design Award for Best Original Car. Browse our selection of 1966 Chevelle parts here.

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4 comments on “The Story of Original Parts Group’s 1966 SS 396 Chevelle
  1. Mark Barnes says:

    How can it be deemed an original car when it’s not the original color, non original trans and constructed of repop parts? This kind of stuff really bugs me!

    • Chadwick Bronson Pope says:

      That was the first thing that I thought also.

    • I’m guessing this means according to some SEMA standard, as in it not being a complete recreation by the Ring Brothers. But yeah, not likely so among the audience represented by real OPGI customer cars – making it a good point. Clearly a way different standard.

  2. Bruce Barrett says:

    I have to agree with Mark Barnes. The yellow would have been the best choice and the powerglide would have been fine and original.

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