The Chevelle is arguably one of Chevrolet’s toughest cars. Not only by looks, but by reputation. They are a bit bigger, and many feel even a bit meaner than the Camaro. But, they are a bit smaller and leaner than the Impala. This mid-size give them the meat to intimidate while still affording them the light-footed agility it takes to bring a name to themselves on the street and the strip.
Let’s take a step back and look at this ’66 Chevelle Malibu that was built by Brian VanAagten of Olympia, Washington. He’s had it for 18 years, and the only thing that hasn’t changed over the course of those nearly two decades is the paint and the rear bumper.
“The inside has been gutted,” Brian told us, “and the suspension and drivetrain have all been redone.” The engine is a 383 cubic-inch stroker, built with a solid-roller camshaft and fueled by an 850 cfm Demon carburetor. It also features a Turbo 350 automatic transmission and a 12-bolt rearend with 3.55 gearing. “It’s going to be getting a 700R4 transmission pretty soon,” he explained.
“I’ve actually always wanted a ’66 or ’67 Chevelle,” Brian said. “I was selling a truck and was offered this as a trade.” It worked out perfectly. Brian loves driving his car, and puts about 5,000 miles on it every year. That’s more than some people put on a restored car in a decade or more, so our hat’s off to Brian for using the car he’s built and getting his time and money’s worth out of it.
“The biggest challenge was money,” Brian told us. But, with a can-do attitude, there isn’t anything he can’t accomplish. It’s just like every other project though, where the monetary cost is an obstacle. “The paint is really the only thing I didn’t do, But I buffed and wet-sanded it to get it to where it is,” Brian explained. “I assembled and designed everything that went into the engine too, I just didn’t do the machine work.”
One unusual feature that we picked up on pretty quickly were the wheels. They are branded with the name and logo “Hot Wheels”. “They are officially licensed by the toy manufacturer,” he explained. “I waited six months to get them, and right after I got mine they discontinued them.” Part of the reason that he had to wait so long was that he ordered the rear wheels in 17 inches, so he had to wait for them to be made. He got the wheels around 2009, and since he’s owned them he’s only run across two other cars that have them.
The interior that came with the car was a different color, so Brain redid it in black. He did everything but the stitch work, and recovered the seats and put the rest of it in himself. He also added an Auto Meter tachometer and a set of gauges to cover the oil pressure, precise temperature, and voltage. “I wanted to know what my temperature really was,” Brian explained.
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