Jerry Jackson loved '66 Chevelles. This was his favorite car, and he had a number of them over the years, but they were usually a little rough around the edges. Then came the car you see here. According to his son, Joel, the current owner, this was a rust-free example when they found it—a matching numbers one at that. That would be a great find for anyone, but this car still had its original California smog equipment intact.
"These systems were usually the first thing to get trashed," noted Joel. The other really unique thing is the color combination."
Ah, yes, the Chateau Slate-over-red combo. True enough, in this day and age you rarely see cars offered with red interiors, and when you do they are usually washed out—not the bright red you see here. Time was they were quite common and in the plastics, vinyl, and leathers of the ‘60s and '70s, they could be absolutely stunning without being gaudy. Honestly, the color combo was what first attracted your author/photographer to this particular A-body. Silver and red is just a classic pairing, and you just don't see it every day anymore.
What you also don't see all the time is a Chevelle restored to this standard. Jerry started the restoration with Joel and his other son, Jerid, in December of 2008—after Christmas dinner, no less. The 396 was using more than a little bit of oil. The trio decided to yank the engine right then and there, and get it ready for a rebuild. Next thing you know, the engine and Powerglide are out and within a few hours, the body is off the frame. Ho, ho, ho!
The body was shipped off to A&R Restorations in Emory, Texas, to smooth it out and shoot the paint. The frame, chassis components, inner fenders, core support, brackets and pulleys all went to be powdercoated. Trim pieces went to Classic Molding Restoration in Greenfield, Indiana. The father and sons worked on it together until Jerry's sudden passing in September 2009. It was Jerry who disassembled the SS396 (he taught his boys everything they know about cars, according to Joel). The family struggled with the loss and even the desire to finish the project, but they knew Jerry would want them to complete what they started.
"My dad, my brother and I worked together on every detail until his death," says Joel. "Completing the car and showing it is a tribute to Dad."
The Chevelle was restored using only NOS and restored GM parts. Every assembly mark, part number tag, color and detail was recreated. The car debuted at the Ennis (Texas) Super Chevy Show in 2010, and was so good it was invited to enter the Gold Class, a prestigious honor very few receive. It won Best Engine at that event.
The 396 is all original except for some internal replacement parts and was machined and assembled by Tinker's Machine Shop in Yantis, Texas. A Powerglide takes the 325 hp to a 12-bolt with 3.08 gears that Joel assembled. The suspension is all stock, save for reproduction springs and polygraphite bushings from PST. The interior was revamped with OE-type materials by Ricky Ratliff and Shane Murphy. Two uncommon options are the knee-knocker tach and tilt steering column.
"The car has won other prestigious awards since [the 2010 Super Chevy Show in Ennis], but the Super Chevy win means so much to the Jacksons, as we have very fond memories of attending Super Chevy events for years as a family, as we've done almost everything since Jerry and Regina started it all with not much more to their name than that first '66 Chevelle," Joel explained.