Courtesy of GAA Classic Cars
  • Part of Davis Collection
  • SS 327-ci 350-hp L79
  • 4-speed Muncie
  • 71k actual miles — fully documented
  • Original Protect-O-Plate
  • Matching-numbers engine
  • 12-bolt Positraction rear axle
  • Over $80k spent on rotisserie restoration in 2013

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Chevrolet Nova SS L79
Years Produced:1966
Number Produced:3,547
Original List Price:$2,671
SCM Valuation:$55,000
Tune Up Cost:$150
Chassis Number Location:Tag on driver’s door jamb
Engine Number Location:Pad forward of passenger’s side cylinder head
Club Info:National Nostalgic Nova
Alternatives:1967–69 Barracuda Formula S, 1966 Chevrolet Corvette L79 coupe, 1968–69 Dodge Dart GTS
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot ST0092, sold for $79,180, including buyer’s premium, at GAA’s auction in Greensboro, NC, on March 4, 2017.

Nova Joe

Back in high school, I had a friend named Joe. Joe wasn’t a flashy guy, nor did he do anything academically or athletically unique. The only thing people really noticed about him was his slight hunchback. That lone distinction led one of the less-fortunate bullies to briefly goad, prod and generally make life miserable for Joe. That is, until he shoved Joe against a brick wall on the backside of the high school. A flash of arm and jacket and the instigator was down — cupping his swelling and bloodied nose.

Joe and I talked cars a bit — probably as well as most high school guys do — and took part in a particularly silly game of comparing ourselves to cars. I’ll pretend not to remember embarrassing thoughts of pining to be a Shelby GT500. I go there simply to say this: If Joe were a car, he’d be an SS L79 Nova. Unassuming, perhaps recognizable from certain angles, but when pushed, packs a helluva right hook.

Right-hook foot

The car’s respective right hook is linked directly to the right pedal.

In the mid-1960s, GM brass was already familiar with fitting hot engines into unexpected chassis. See the 389 fitted into a Pontiac Tempest, for example, creating the GTO. Or the 330 into the Olds F-85, creating the 442. So why not take the hot Corvette small block and put it in the compact?

The 327-ci 350-hp L79 has one of the highest horsepower-to-cubic-inches ratio (1.07:1) of any American V8 of the time. And it’s no real wonder why, with 11:1 compression, forged pistons and an aluminum intake.

The only Chevrolet V8s rated higher during the 1960s are the Corvette-only 327/360 (1.10) and 327/375 (1.15) — plus two one-year wonders, the 283/315 (1.11) and 396/425 (1.073). Sure, this is based on advertised horsepower — which had a funny way of understating real horsepower — but it does provide a point of common reference.

Esoteric as that argument may be, here’s a lucid one: In stock form, with that 600-cfm Holley, it takes 15 seconds at 95 mph to cover a quarter mile in this Chevy II.

And there isn’t much to give away its performance pedigree. Two SS badges, a pair of Super Sport scripts and matching 327 V8 fender flags are the only external markers differentiating this from any other 1966 2-door X-body. This is a sleeper, pure and simple.

Documented restoration

I write this without the benefit of an in-person inspection of the car. But GAA does a commendable job with their online catalog and photo availability — on par with many of the national traveling auctions.

First and foremost, the VIN starts 118 — on the VIN tag, on the Protect-O-Plate, everywhere. So we know it is a Chevy II Nova SS V8. That makes it just one of 3,547 L79 SS Novas GM produced for 1966.

The seller stated that the car has 71k actual miles, with a matching-numbers engine. Unfortunately, there were no available images for the engine number. This is an excellent opportunity for a friendly reminder that you (or a surrogate) should always inspect the car in person before flipping up that bidder’s paddle or writing that check.

Visually, the car is striking. Yes, it helps that white over black is a great a contrast, but the light reflects smoothly and evenly on the car’s long sides. And I’ll be damned if that isn’t a spot-on Ermine White. The black vinyl interior is as the General shipped it.

David Lee took delivery of the car on October 28, 1965, from Joe Creamons Chevrolet in Eustis, FL, per the Protect-O-Plate accompanying the sale. Among the rest of the documentation was the owner’s guide, a feature accessories brochure and restoration binder.

L79s lead Nova pricing

ACC has covered L79 Novas before in two “Quick Takes.” One was unrestored and was not an original SS. It sold for $41,250 (#24, Nov/Dec 2015, p. 69). The other car (#9, May/June 2013, p. 66) was a factory-built SS restored to the nines. Mecum sold that one for $219,950. I’m fairly certain that some users still haven’t picked up their jaws from the floor in the deep pockets of ChevyTalk’s 1962–67 Chevy II-Nova-Acadian sub-forum.

The 2017 SCM-ACC Pocket Price Guide shows us there hasn’t been too much movement in the market for these cars. The median value is pegged at $55k. Now that’s the middle of the market, with half of the sales above and half below that point. And really, this car fits on that continuum.

Near $80k for this restored Nova might shock the less informed, but the comps show us that it’s the going rate for this level of this car. Mecum sold a recently restored ’66 SS L79 for $88k at Kissimmee in January (ACC# 6823233), while Barrett-Jackson also had a ’66 SS, but it wasn’t an L79 and sold for $42,900 (ACC# 6816741).

It’s pretty easy to look at ACC’s Premium Auction Database and see recent auction sales for 1966 Novas in one setting. What pops out even more is the tiers of pricing — anything over $75k was an SS L79. That’s not to say they all sold over that price, but they were the only Novas to do so. In fact, the only Novas of any year or sub model consistently worth more than a ’66 L79 SS are Yenko and COPO examples.

Much like my friend Joe, this car might not catch everyone’s attention, but underestimate the power and value at your own risk. Nobody wants a bloodied nose — behind the school, at the dragstrip or on the block. Well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of GAA Classic Cars.)

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