The hot 1966 and 1967 Chevy II 327's
Q: Greg, I've always been a fan of the 1966 and 1967 Chevy II's with the 350 horse 327 engines. I've owned a 1966 that I bought new with the L79 350 horse engine. Also, how many 1966 Chevy II's were built with the 350 horse 327? Larry C., Binghamton, NY.
A: Larry, I had a good friend who had a 66 Chevy II with the first ever "hot hydraulic" camshaft L79 350 horse engine, which was probably the most popular amongst the high performance set when it came to Chevy II's and the larger Malibu models. Additionally, you could also order a 360-horse engine for the Corvette and a 375 horse engine from Chevy, the latter available in a crate RPO order and it came with a solid lifter cam.
Speaking of that 375-horse crate motor, I had a close friend whose brother dropped one in 65 Malibu with a wide ratio 4-speed and 4.56 gears. He was the terror or the street scene, showing many a big block SS396 and even a Hemi Plymouth Roadrunner his taillights on a regular basis. The car ran in the 11's easily.
The 327 L79 350 was the Corvette motor, in an 11 to 1 compression ratio design, was capable of moving the lightweight Chevy II (less than 3,000 lbs.) to quick quarter mile times with just a little work. If you added headers, some 4.56 gears, ignition and a good tune, you could easily run low 12's in the quarter-mile.
Even Car and Driver's Patrick Bedard, the New York City based nationally respected motorsport writer (and former Indy 500 starter-I have his press kit!) rated this very 1966-1967 Chevy II L79 327 as of the best all-time street racers in a 1990 article.
Said Bedard, "The combination made for one the sneakiest muscle cars ever built. You might not notice a Chevy II in traffic until he got half a car-length on you. Even in a boss machine, you might have to run 80 or 90 mph to get it back. That's how fast those Chevy II's were."
I agree, and point to any of those three very powerful 327's to get the job done. Thanks for your question. And as for you drag racers out there, how about these three words... Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins-he let everyone know just how fast these machines could go on the quarter mile.
As for the number built in 1966, I found that only 5,481 utilized the L79. Thanks for the question.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes ready inquires at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org).