Back in 1966, Chevelles were king of the road, especially when outfitted with the Super Sport 396 ci engine. The A-body Chevelle platform was introduced back in 1964, and only got better year after year. Even with their wild success, they were a mid-sized family car, and not a performance machine, minus the SS models. They have been a favorite for modification ever since they rolled off the assembly line, and this ’66 is no exception.
As defined by the dictionary, Nemesis means, “an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.” A 1966 Chevelle might be a car you wouldn’t think of as your Nemesis, but this is no ordinary ’66 Chevelle. In fact, we would be bold enough to say that this ’66 is the baddest 1966 Chevelle ever, and you’ve probably never seen it before.
Charles Newcomb, the owner of Nemsis, talked about how he came across this wicked creation. “Between the age of seven and eleven, I saw the older boys driving customized cars from the early 30s and 40s along with chopped and channeled ’52 Mercs. Being too young to drive, the best my friends and I could do was buy and assemble model cars,” Newcomb explained. That early fascination with cars kept him interested and always wanting a cool ride of his own, which finally happened when he bought this ’66.
Newcomb picked up this 1966 all the way back in 1967. It was used, with only 14,000 miles on the odometer. Newcomb told us the story of how he acquired this car and how his Dad wouldn’t let him buy a Super Sport, which is what he really wanted. “Even though my father was driving a 454 at the time, when we stood in the dealership, he wouldn’t support a Super Sport. As we signed the financing paperwork he said ‘you better pay for this and keep it a long time.’ Not long after, I went on Active Duty with the Navy and my net pay was $72, twice a month. The payments on the Chevelle were $69, so I only had $3 left for the next two weeks! But gas was only about 30 cents a gallon, so if I hadn’t splurged the prior two weeks, I was set. I made all the payments and drove it 23 years, so I kept my end of the bargain.”
Newcomb kept the car, driving it every single day. He had heard story after story from people who “never wished they sold their car.” Using that as motivation, he held onto his ’66. In 1990 he parked the Chevelle, waiting for a day when he could restore it to its former glory. Not having the mechanical ability, but having the passion for old cars, he reached out to professionals to help him restore his car. That professional was Max Fish, owner and fabricator at Bio Kustumz, out of Winchester, CA. Newcomb gave little instruction to Fish other than to build the best track car that he possibly could. With that in mind, Fish started planning a car that would out handle some of the best cars on the road and track.
The car itself may look fairly factory from the outside, but this is one of those cars you can spend hours, if not days finding little details and custom pieces. In fact, the car is so well executed, that you probably didn’t notice that almost none of the original ’66 exists. The body is all original, but minus the outer metal shell, everything else was custom made and fabricated.
Starting To Create Nemsis
By far one of the most impressive parts of the car, is the entirely custom-made suspension and frame. The stock frame and suspension design was tossed aside. Newcomb and Fish decided that a full tube chassis was in order, along with a custom front suspension and independent rear suspension. The new frame is a TIG welded, chromoly tube chassis along with a full roll cage, but again executed so well that you don’t notice. The full length center console actually acts as one big back bone for the car, and encloses the transmission and driveshaft, while supporting the suspension. There’s even a roll cage, but it’s tucked super tight to the body and hidden under the headliner, making it out of sight and out of mind. With the custom tube chassis, this allowed for a completely smooth underside of the car, all covered up with sheet metal panels.
Just like any project, this one snowballed for Newcomb, but he remained committed, even when Fish scared him. “Max and I planned the basis of the build and had decided to make a custom tube chassis. The main event was to tear the car completely down. Max sent me some photos and I could tell there was no turning back!”
The customization didn’t stop with the tube chassis either. The front suspension features a cantilever coil over design, and it’s not just a reworked Chevelle design either. This design is 100% from scratch, with a ton of engineering put into it. The rear suspension is a completely custom independent rear suspension set up, “that was designed to be related to the front suspension, not just an autonomous system,” Fish told us. The rear is finished off with a set of coil overs as well.
Powering The Nemsis
Things get really interesting when you start looking under the hood. While seeing an LS engine isn’t that out of the ordinary nowadays, when this swap was done, people were just starting to realize what an LS motor was. You see, this was back in 2004 when the traditional small-block Chevy platforms were all the rage. An LS engine wasn’t something anybody knew about. In fact, when Fish was calling around looking for parts, nobody had them. The first go around with this engine set up on the engine dyno, they actually exploded and cracked the block.
Fish knew the potential of the LS, and wanted to be one of the first to install one in a Chevelle. But Fish isn’t one to just do something simple and walk away, he had to make his mark on the motor too. He started by grabbing an LS6 out of a 2004 Corvette. He then upgraded the rods and pistons for forged pieces, to be able to handle a Paxton Novi2000 super charger. He knew the motor would need headers to breathe, so Fish made his own custom, equal length stainless steel headers. Going a step further, he decided to make his own mufflers as well, since he wanted something that would last a lifetime and sound even better. On the dyno, this car made 504 horsepower, at the wheels. Backing that monster is a Tremec T-56 from a Camaro Z28, ensuring this car can still cruise down the freeway.
The Monster Gets Make-Up
The outside of the car is painted an eye-catching blue, which is actually Warp Speed Blue, a DuPont Hot Hues color. Once we got past the color, we started noticing subtle changes to the body itself. To start, all the emblems sans grill have been shaved off. Even the radio antenna was shaved off, to clean up the look. From there the door handles were swapped out with a recessed set from a Honda Accord, again smoothing out the body. One super trick body mod was that Fish grafted in the “Chevrolet” raised letters from the original valve covers onto the rear quarter panels. “In memory of the old car,” Fish stated. Going further, the rear moldings around the tail lights were removed, resembling a 300 Deluxe style. Just for good measure, the rear trunk release lock was shaved off as well.
On the interior, this Chevelle really shines high class and hides the true intentions of this beast. The entire interior was stitched up by Armando’s Custom Upholstery, and they classed up this monster. The interior is all custom made, sporting rich leather with blue suede that matches the outside. Naturally, the inside of the car is 100% custom, and all made from scratch. The seats are now four buckets, instead of two bench seats. The custom dash houses a complete set of Auto Meter Carbon Fiber Ultra-Light gauges, which enhance the race car. A Flaming River steering column with Momo Millennium Evo wheel finish off the dash. Creature comforts include a full Vintage Air set up, and full set of JL Audio speakers connected to an Eclipse head unit. The one thing Newcomb wishes he would have done on the interior was add power windows, since he was trying to keep it simple.
The entire process of taking the car from a run-down clunker to a show stopping, race winning Chevelle took a little over two years. The end result is a car that weighs 3,800 pounds and can out handle most modern super cars. Make sure to check out the full gallery below!
Special Thanks To:
- Max Fish, of Bio Kustumz, Winchester, CA. for all his ideas and custom fabrication.
- Armando’s Custom Upholstery, San Jacinto, CA. Mr. Armando Torres and his sons, for their custom leather interior.
- My supportive wife, Rachel, who knew how much the car meant to me.
- Steve Sbelgio of Eclipse Engineering, Whittier, CA. for tuning and calibration
- Gale Harlow, Valley Center, CA. for power steering and other modifications
- C & J Auto, San Leandro, CA. for alterations and support away from Southern California
Owner: Charles Newcomb
Car: 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle
Motor: 2004 Corvette LS6, Paxton Novi2000 pro charger
Transmission: T-56 Six-Speed from Camaro Z28
Brakes: Wilwood at all four corners
Wheels: 18×8 Cragar SS
Tires: 275/45/R18 Goodyear F-1
Suspension: Custom in front and back, Independent rear suspension
Car Club: Southern California Chevelle and El Camino Club