(first posted 6/30/2015) As I said yesterday, I’m on a two-door sedan jag (now I just need to find an actual Jaguar two-door sedan). And since today’s Montego two door is a hardtop, I’ll have to reach into my digital grab bag to find something suitable. How’s this? Fills the brief, except of course it’s not original. Good luck finding just about any old Chevy II in original condition, most of all the two door sedans and hardtops. They invariably have had a SBC-swapecotomy, like this ’63 sedan I shot in the Bay Area.
Admittedly, it’s a fairly mild case of hotrodding, but the peek into the tinted windows proves that this is not an original six with either a Powerglide or three-on-the-tree job anymore. I’m not up on my custom shifters, but this looks more like one for an automatic than a four speed. 350/350? Ever so common, although that requires some surgery on the transmission tunnel, and this one does seem a bit swollen.
The Chevy II became the perfect tri-five successor: light, simple, and eminently happy to have any kind of Chevy component thrown into it.
And Ed Cole made sure it was going to be very accommodating to accepting Chevy’s mighty mouse motor, the 327 V8. This excerpt is from the Nov. 1961 Popular Mechanics, courtesy of George Ferencz.
Folks started swapping in SBC the minute the first Chevy IIs arrived at the dealers. Here’s a Hot Rod article from 1962 that details the transformation. Typically, a four cylinder sedan was ordered for the purpose, but in this case a six cylinder coupe was the subject.
Given the very light weight of a Chevy II (2,430 lbs listed for the four cylinder), any Chevy V8 turned it into a deceptively fast car. A Chevy II V8 was the cheapest bang for the buck, especially when the basic sedans became cheap used cars. No wonder there’s hardly any original ones left, unlike the Falcon of the 60s, of which very many survived into six-cylinder hipsterhood service.
Prefer sixes? The quickest and slowest Turbo-thrift sixes
Wish they would do a little more work on the interior. Looks night and day from the one you compared to the Riviera the other day. Is that an 80s S10 bucket? F body?
Looks ’70s and Japanese. Someone might want ’em for a factory resto on whatever they came from.
Indeed they would. That is a 240Z seat. I’m not enough of an anorak to tell you which series 240Z they came from, but looks exactly what was installed in all 3 of my 72s…
Almost bought a Chevy II wagon SS clone about a year ago, but the owner was too much of a pain, so I cut the deal short.
If I wasn’t so much of a Tri-Five guy I might have gone this way. Chevy II’s are such a natural for a V8 swap.
My grandfather had one of these, a 1962 two door coupe, (no side roof pillar), with the 6 cylinder. When he died in 1964, my dad got the car and had it until around 1978.
By that time it had rusted badly from east coast salt in winter, but the 6 would not die.
It was a sporty small car, except for the sloppy steering; I was into foriegn stuff at the time, most of which had rack and pinion steering, regardless I liked the car, and used to envision setting the 6 up with 3 side draft carbs, and sporting up the suspension, for a European flavored trick up.
Wish we had taken better care of it as it might be here to enjoy today; it was a pretty light metallic blue, subtle and classy.
Most of what we tossed onto the scap heap in the old days, if saved and preserved to this day, would, in light of present economics, be a much better retirement “vehicle” than any investment funds.
If i had all my old cars, all my pre 1964 siver coin money, assorted cathederal radios, victrolas, and soda vending machines, and such, i’d be sitting prettey for a financially comfortable retirement.
Too soon old, too late smart!
Wish you had fixed up the six. There was a huge amount of potential there but everyone just had to have a V-8 (and they were cheap) so sixes were neglected.
It’s easy to look at these with rose colored glasses but IIRC they were a pain to keep in good shape. Agree that the six would run forever so given a choice make mine a southern car with the 230 and a stick. Clifford would be a better choice than a V8 swap, I think.
The shifter could go either way, the T-handle is a fairly common 4 speed item and the chrome bit under the handle could be a reverse lockout.
A friend in Brooklyn, NY inherited his fathers `62 4 door ,six cylinder and powerglide Nova in 1972. .Asides from a reupholstured front seat, it still runs great with over 420,000 miles on the OD and is still rust free.Of course he takes good care of it,and it shows.Indestructable!
I guess the staff board at Chevrolet had read that Hot Rod article, that would explain why the Chevy II got an optionnal V8 engine for the 1964 model year.
Does anyone have any info on how those dealership SBC engine swaps were accomplished back in the day, and what they might have charged relative to the price of the car? It seems like it would be a fairly major operation, since there would have to be an upgrade of associated components to go along with the much more powerful engine.
I can’t feature a stock, early Nova’s drivetrain or suspension being stout enough to last very long behind a SBC, even one that’s essentially stock, back in the early sixties.
Hope someone comments because it would be fun to know. I will bet that a lot was trial and error – just leave the original rear end in until it failed, etc.
The first generation of Chevy II’s have always been my favorites .
Very cheaply built but fun to drive and dead simple to maintain .
Before they were popular , I used to rescue old Super Sport models , refurbish them and sell off at a tiny profit .
Looks like an B&M Starshifter. They were $99 in ’88. Simple to use ratchet shifter.
IMHO the original Chevy II is a really clean, neat design that looks great in two-door sedan form, much like the 65 Ford two-door from a day or two back.
My paternal grandmother got one of the very first examples in 62 and it was as barebones as you could possibly get – a two-door 100-series, four cylinder with stick and radio delete (IIRC it had one of those attractive ribbed plates over the cove for the radio). I spent a lot of driver’s permit time behind the wheel in that little car with her as my passenger and it drove very nicely. I know the four-cylinder gets a bad rep but I always found it at least as smooth running as a 144 Falcon six. We had virtually no problems with the car for the ten years she drove it before giving up her license due to vision issues.
I had lots of other experiences with other 62-65 IIs simply because they were so popular at the time – a high school teacher had an SS coupe with stick and the six, another friend had a 65 four-door with the 283 and Powerglide, etc. They were all well-built, reliable little cars. Chevy was really doing a great job in the 60’s and sales figures reflected it.
Early Falcons were frumpy, early Valiants were weird, early Corvairs were too European. For early 60’s compacts these just always seemed right. Right size, right styling, and I’m not a Chevy guy.
Well, considering that GM brought the Chevy II to market two full years after the Falcon and Valiant, they certainly had plenty of time to get it right (or at least better than the other two).
Even then, by 1963, the Valiant was looking pretty good and I dare say much better than the Chevy II. It was only the Falcon that retained it’s ‘frumpiness’ until its first major refresh in 1964. By then, the Nova wasn’t all that anymore, and didn’t really hit its stride until the clean 1966 hardtop hit the street scene.
For the love of Pete, please stop posting articles on cars that I had, or in this case, was damn close enough. Memories! What a time I had with some of that old crap! I still haven’t digitized my old photos of all the vehicles I used to have at one time or another, but when I do…! Anyway, I had a version of this, a ’62 or three ( can’t for the life of me remember which) Acadian ( this is Canada, after all ) Sport Deluxe convertible. Six and a power glide with buckets and a console. A nice cruiser, but with the brakes and the shopping cart spec front end parts, I can’t imagine a big stove up front. As a cheap car, it was ok, Mom liked her ’62 Chevy II, at least until she rolled it, but mine…too many low rent parts trying too hard to be taken seriously. Maybe the sedans were better, but my ragtops body parts always seemed to be rather inclined to be heading off in different directions when the road got less than perfect. Oh well, it still looked good. Now if I could only get around to scanning all those pix!
Pretty cool Nova there.
I had a little backseat time in a couple of these when I was a kid. A neighbor mom had one, a maroon 2 door sedan with a 3 on the tree. It was the suburban “second car” for mom, while dad drove the 66 Bonneville to work.
My stepmom had one of these before she and my father married. It disappeared almost immediately, replaced by a 68 Cutlass Supreme.
My Buddy drove something very close to this for many years. Built 350 SB and flashy red paint, it got looks and compliments from almost everyone; but there was an unseen dark side. It still had the original unassisted drum brakes, springs and manual steering for the original six-cylinder drive train. The torque from the 350 had twisted the body so the trunk lid did not fit properly and the factory seam sealer was full of cracks where the roof joined the rest of the body. Eventually the original builder bought the car back from my friend and has apparently corrected all of the shortcomings.
Very cool to see these cars—I remember when they were everywhere! (I’m a Ford guy, but I do find the Chevy II’s styling a notch cooler than the Falcom.)
Paul, I’m no authority whatsoever, but this seems like a good time to post this—-earliest mention I’d seen of Chevy/GM talking about the swap. (Popular Mechanics, November 1961)
Excellent! I’ll add it to the post.
My brother had a ‘63 Chevy II convertible that he bought in ‘66, shortly after he got his DL.
It was blue (turquoise?) with a white top. 6 cylinder, 3-on-the-tree (that he quickly converted to floor shift). He was a drag racing guy, really hated how quick that car was not- and unfortunately drove it into the ground. I really don’t know exactly why he did buy it. Probably got it for a good price.
I was 9 at the time, so had no input as to what was done with that car, but I really liked it.
I would LOVE to have that car now – in stock condition just as it was in1966.