During the heyday of what is considered the “original” muscle car era, the buying public was definitely focused on cars with a “small” curb weight and large displacement. This was a time when the Camaro, Chevelle, and even the Nova was considered the hot ticket when coupled with one of Chevrolet’s big-block mills. But when those large mills were placed in Chevrolet’s “bigger” cars, like the Impala and Biscayne, not many people noticed — or really cared. That is, except for a few who liked to have the comfort of a “big” car with the power afforded by the big block. Such is the case with this Regal Red ’66 Impala.
Although the Impala was not decreed by Chevrolet to be a “muscle car,” the particular big bruiser we’re featuring has all the good stuff — and the deletion of other stuff — typically found in a high-performance car of the day. In fact, at one time, it was a true-to-form weekend warrior on the dragstrip. We’re even told the car had the obligatory tow-bar hooks mounted to the frame when the restoration began.
Unfortunately, no old timeslips are available. But given its drivetrain, we’re certain it did quite well. That’s because, under the hood is one — large for the day — L72 big-block 427 engine. Owning this ride “back in the day” would have been met with mixed reviews. Why, you ask? Usually, high-performance drivetrains were placed in smaller, lighter cars to maximize performance potential, not family cruisers. However, today, it will make any Bow Tie fan proud. What if I told you, that you could be that person? You could be that proud owner of this car.
It’s true, as once again, Dream Giveaway Garage is offering this truly spectacular sweepstakes prize to one lucky enthusiast. But we’ll tell you more about how you can win this car a little later. For now, let’s talk about the car.
While GM officially slammed the door on its efforts in regard to sponsoring racers in the early ’60s, there were still plenty of Chevrolet faithful willing to carry the torch. For them — and anyone with a need for mountain-moving levels of horsepower — Chevrolet offered its newest version of the Mark IV big-block for 1966 – the L72 427. This new addition to the lineup offered seven liters of high-winding, solid-lifter superpower.
In the days before the L88 and LS6, this was Chevrolet’s king rat, exceeding the previous generation’s 409 big-block in displacement and horsepower. In 1963, the 409 peaked at 425 horsepower. At the beginning of the 1966 model year (September 1965), Chevrolet assigned the L72 a horsepower rating of 450. At the time, this was a monumental number that would not be equaled again until the arrival of the iconic LS6 454 in 1970.
It’s a well-known fact that the L72’s horsepower rating was actually understated. In fact, in June 1965 — a few months prior to the engine’s public release — Chevrolet held a dyno session and the L72 tested, made 464 horsepower at 6,400 rpm. What’s more, the power output was still climbing. I have to let you know, this engine does deliver a few more ponies than it was rated to deliver when new. In fact, there are 520 dyno-proven ponies at the rear wheels.
When this particular example of Chevy’s upscale beast was initially delivered to the original owner, there is no doubt what was planned for the ride. Not only did he order the big 427-inch engine, but behind that is a close-ratio M21 four-speed, 3.31:1 Positraction axle, and F41 Special Suspension. He did forgo the inclusion of power steering, power brakes, A/C, power windows, and all the other niceties you would expect to find in an Impala. This car doesn’t even have the Super Sport moniker. It’s simply “just an Impala” — if such a statement can be made.
When you slip behind the wheel, it is a true experience in time travel. To enjoy your “trip” back in time, you’ll need both hands and feet to operate this pavement-buckling cruiser. That means your left hand goes on the steering wheel, your right hand on the shifter, your left foot hovering above the clutch, and the right foot on the gas. Driving a car such as this is a visceral experience. I realized this as soon as I pulled it out of the Dream Giveaway garage, At first glance, one would think this car just to be a nicely restored car that was meant for the show field. In theory, they would be right.
However, I learned quickly the car’s true destiny. This isn’t a car you just ride in, this is a car you drive. As soon as I pulled out of the garage, the available horsepower was immediately apparent. Inside that cast-iron block is a generous sprinkling of goodies like four-bolt mains, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods, forged pistons squeezing to 11:1 compression ratio, and a “mild” camshaft with .597-inch lift. Feeding the fire is an aluminum intake and a Holley 800-cfm carburetor. Traveling gear-to-gear is as effortless as can be expected with a 50-plus-year-old car.
Shifting the four-speed is something any true gearhead can appreciate, and the operation of the clutch during gear changes was effortless. My leg never got tired while driving in St. Petersburg, Florida, traffic. I would like to say the temperature gauge never got out of the “normal” range, but alas, there is only a warning light. The only gauge — other than the speedometer — is the in-dash tach.
This very rare and well-documented four-speed Impala is one of only 1,800 full-sized Chevrolets built in 1966 with the L72 427/425 horsepower engine. It is also one of the very few to have survived the years of service it delivered while retaining the original powerplant and 12-bolt rearend. The car was restored many years ago and is still a stunning example of Chevrolet’s history. This upscale, Regal Red factory hot rod is fitted with a red cloth bench seat interior fitted with seat belts, tinted glass, a tilt steering column, and AM/FM radio. It has been featured in three national magazines and has won many awards, one of which is an AACA Championship, three Super Chevy awards, and a Best in Show. Documented with the original factory window sticker, owner’s manual, warranty booklet, and sales brochures.
Now for the best part. As mentioned, you can own this red rocket simply by checking out the Dream Giveaway Garage website. The sweepstakes begin today (12/6/2020) and will run until 10/26/2021. Finally, on 11/11/2021, the sweepstakes winner is drawn at random. If you’re ready to make this gorgeous Impala yours, here’s how you can do it. While tickets are only $3.00 per ticket, we want to help you increase your chances of winning. In fact, you can click here to buy your tickets. Also, if our Chevy Hardcore readers use the promo code CHEVY when placing their order, Dream Giveaway will give you double the tickets. That means you can double the number of actual tickets you get if your donation is $25.00 or more! What are you waiting for? The clock starts ticking today?