Joel Jackson’s 1966 Chevelle SS396
Joel Jackson grew up in a 1966 Chevelle family. During his childhood, Joel remembers his father’s search for the perfect ’66 SS Chevelle to match his first – a ’66 Marina Blue, four-speed version. “He had a hard time finding a true SS that was in reasonable condition with a combination he liked,” Joel says.
Around 2001, Joel’s brother spotted a good prospect near his home. A quick trip to see the car confirmed it was the one to restore. “Dad really liked the Chateau Slate color and for the most part it was a rust-free California car,” Joel says. It needed restoration but was a numbers-matching car that ran.
After making the purchase, the guys drove the SS on the three-hour journey home. “I’m pretty sure the tired big block burned almost as much oil as it did gas,” Joel jokes.
The restoration process began in earnest in late 2008. “The disassembly date is easy to remember because we started after Christmas dinner,” Joel says. “Dad, my brother, and I were all together for Christmas and after dinner we decided we should go pull the motor for an overhaul. We went to the shop with the intent to pull the motor and the next thing you know it snowballs into a complete restoration.”
Unfortunately, the restoration suffered a setback when Joel’s father passed away suddenly in late 2009, but the brothers persevered, finishing the 1966 Chevelle a year later.
The SS is powered by a 325-horsepower 396c.i. big block mated to a Powerglide transmission. The 12-bolt rear houses 3.08 gears. Since the ’66 was born a California car, it is fitted with the factory smog air pump. Four-wheel drum brakes bring the car to a stop, while 7.75-14 U.S. Royal tires wrap around original steel wheels with mag-style NOS wheel covers.
The team at A&R Restorations in Emory, Texas, handled the metal restoration and applied the BASF basecoat/clearcoat Chateau Slate paint. The body is complemented by a red interior that combines original restored pieces and NOS components. The door panels are original GM pieces and an NOS woodgrain steering wheel sits on the original tilt column. The bucket seats wear reproduction PUI covers, while NOS floormats protect the carpet. The stock console features an optional clock. Joel says he continues to add NOS and original parts to the car as he discovers them.
“I have a lot of great memories with my dad and the ’66 Chevelles,” Joel says. “However, the friendships within the car community and their efforts to see the car go back together is humbling.”
Photos by John Jackson