1966 Chevrolet Bel Air
8-cyl. 283cid/195hp 2bbl L32
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
In 1965, General Motors was still selling about half of the new cars on the road and the Chevrolet Division was selling about half of that number. The full-sized Chevrolet (Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala and Impala SS) made up 61.6 percent of Chevrolet sales, so about 15.5 percent of the new cars on the road were big Chevrolets. These cars were therefore ubiquitous when new, which is why there are so many remaining.
The 1965 Bel Air was new from the frame through the entire body, which included curved side glass for the first time. An all-new big-block 396 engines also joined the line-up a little late in the model year. Bel Air had been the top-of-the-line series from 1953 through 1957, but the Impala came along in 1958 to take top honors. The cars were still highly popular, though, and some 271,600 were sold in 1965.
Engines offered included a standard 230 cubic inch six, a new larger 250 six, 195 and 220 hp versions of the 283 V-8, 250 and 300 hp versions of the 327 V-8, 340 and 400 hp versions of the 409 V-8 and a choice of 325 or 425 hp versions of the new 396 V-8. Transmissions were typically three-speed synchromesh, but V-8 cars had the option of four-speed synchromesh, optional two-speed Powerglide automatic or the Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic.
Body styles for the Bel Air included two-door sedan, four-door sedan and four-door wagon. In order to obtain a two-door sports coupe (hardtop), four-door hardtop or two-door convertible, buyers had to opt for the higher priced Impala. Station wagon buyers had a choice of two or three rows of seats for six or nine passengers, respectively. The wheelbase was a generous 119 inches, and trunk space was more than ample for most business use or for family vacations. Fifteen colors were offered, thirteen of which were new.
Ford’s major competitor to the Bel Air was their own all-new for 1965 Custom series, which sold about 236,750 units, a bit lower than the Chevy. Chrysler’s major competitor to the Bel Air was their all-new for 1965 Plymouth Fury II series, which sold about 66,750 units.
1966 saw the car facelifted, with the 409 engine being dropped and the 155 hp, 250 cubic inch six slated as standard equipment on the full-sized Chevrolets. 1967 cars were completely reskinned below the greenhouse for a new look, with the new addition of a massive 427 cubic inch V-8 producing 385 hp and federally mandated dual-circuit brakes. Another new option was front disc brakes borrowed from the Corvette, providing exceptional capabilities and added safety.