1966 Chevy Bel Air 427 Is Not Your Grandpa's Daily Driver, Runs 10s

1966 Chevrolet Bel Air 8 photos
1966 Chevrolet Bel Air1966 Chevrolet Bel Air1966 Chevrolet Bel Air1966 Chevrolet Bel Air1966 Chevrolet Bel Air1966 Chevrolet Bel Air1966 Chevrolet Bel Air
Initially introduced on two-door hardtop versions of the Chevrolet full-size in 1950, the Bel Air evolved into a complete lineup of body styles in 1955. In 1958, it lost its range-topping privileges to the Impala and eventually became a fleet model toward the end of its life. The Bel Air was produced over eight generations until 1981.
Even though it's not usually associated with high performance, the Bel Air was available with Chevrolet's most potent mill throughout its life. The range included everything from the fuel-injected 283-cubic-inch (4.6-liter) V8 of the mid-1950s to the 409- and 427-cubic-inch (6.7- and 7.0-liter) big-block mills of the 1960s.

All told, when equipped with the right powerplant, the seemingly mundane Bel Air morphed into a sleeper that could give fully-fledged muscle cars a run for their money. If you have yet to see a 1960s Bel Air on the drag strip, this two-door sedan proves that big cars can be fast with proper underpinnings. Of course, this Chevy isn't exactly stock.

Spotted at Byron Dragway in Illinois, this sixth-generation Bel Air looks like the car your grandpa used to drive to the market at first glance. Take a closer look, however, and you'll notice a pair of meaty tires in the rear and an aftermarket cowl hood atop the engine. The interior provides even more clues that this Bel Air was modified for quick quarter-mile runs.

The standard seats have been replaced with race-spec buckets, and a full roll cage protects the driver in a crash. The dashboard area is packed with racing gear, while the shifter is unlike what you usually see in factory Bel Airs.

The footage doesn't give us a look under the hood, but our host says the two-door sedan still packs its original 427-cubic-inch V8. The big block was indeed an option for the Bel Air in 1966. Slotted above the 396-cubic-inch (6.5-liter) V8, the 427 delivered 390 horsepower, which was enough to turn the two-door sedan into a 14.9-second rig.

However, Chevrolet also offered a 425-horsepower version of the engine. Also capable of 460 pound-feet (624 Nm) of torque, it pushed the Bel Air across the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds. But the 427 V8 in this sedan is no longer stock. Again, there's not a lot of info on aftermarket upgrades, but this Bel Air is notably quicker than its stock siblings.

The video below shows the Chevy making a few 11-second passes. For the final run, however, the driver unlocks the Bel Air's full potential and hits the finish line in 10.5 seconds at 134.6 mph (216.6 kph). That's nearly four seconds quicker than a stock 427-powered 1966 Bel Air. Impressive, to say the least!

But don't let the drag-spec gear fool you. Even though it packs a parachute and a rear wing, this Bel Air is still running a full exhaust system, and it's completely street-legal. Now, that's what I can call a nasty daily driver.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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