|Rear Panel Colors|
This past summer at a Super Chevy event I came up on a group of '66 Super Sport Chevelle owners discussing the rear panel on '66 SS Chevelles.
Every owner participating in the discussion said all '66 SS Chevelles had body color only on the rear panel, and no '66 SS Chevelles ever had the black rear accent panel. I knew some of the owners present, but not participating in the discussion, were long time owners of '66 SS Chevelles with the rear black accent panels. For what ever reason those owners made no comment during the discussion. I also have been reluctant over the years to write anything regarding the black rear accent panel on '66 SS Chevelles simply because each Fisher Body plant had their own policy, I have very little documentation to establish time frames that were in question, and most of my information is from the memories of GM employees. I'm motivated now to share what information I have because an original owner of a '66 SS Chevelle with the black rear accent panel told me his friends had convinced him not to put the black rear accent panel back on his Chevelle for an up coming restoration. I ask him what did his friends have to prove all '66 SS Chevelles had rear body panels that were body color only? His answer was, "These guys have messed with Chevelles for years".
The lower rear panel I'm talking about is the panel under the trunk lid in which the trunk lock, Chevelle name, and the rear SS/396 emblem mount on the '66 SS Chevelles. The part number for this panel is 7586821. First I would like to establish some facts for consideration and for background. The first edition showroom brochures for the '66 Chevelle did show all '66 SS Chevelles with the rear black accent panel. If you don't have this brochure and would like to see some of the pictures in this brochure, visit (www.chevelles.com/years/66/promopair.htm).
The first revision of this same brochure has the same exact '66 SS Chevelle illustrations without the rear panel black accent. The first edition of the '66 Chevrolet dealer albums illustrated the '66 SS Chevelle with the rear black accent panel, while the revised dealer albums have the same illustrations without the rear panel black accent. The dealer showroom picture of a Marina blue '66 SS Chevelle does not have the black rear accent panel. The early production post card with the same illustration as the dealer showroom picture has the black rear accent panel, while the late production postcards do not. The Chevrolet press release sent out to the media to introduce the '66 SS Chevelle has a photo of a '66 SS Chevelle with a black rear accent panel, so we know at least one was made for a fact. On page 6 of the 1966 Chevelle Custom Feature Accessories is an illustration of a regal red '66 SS Chevelle convertible with a black rear accent panel.
Chevrolet kind of quality in a slightly smaller size
I'm starting to sound like Joe Friday on Dragnet, "just the facts mamma", so I will stop at this point. As you continue to read this please keep in mind this statement GM prints in most of the '66 literature for consumer use, "All illustrations and specifications in this publication are based on the latest product information available at time of publication. The right is reserved to make changes at any time without notice in colors, materials, equipment, specifications, and models; also to discontinue items or models."
What does all this information mean? I was puzzled until I meet two production line foreman that worked for Fisher Body, and one production worker that worked for Chevrolet at the Atlanta plant in '66. These GM employees gave me a great deal of information that helped explain many questions I had regarding '66 Chevelles. I'm going to share some of this information with you. This information is dealing with Atlanta built Chevelles, but could apply to other assembly plants within the GM network.
To go further I need to give you some background that you may or may not know.
Fisher Body and Chevrolet were two separate units all together in '66. Fisher Body employees made the Chevelle bodies from raw materials, and assembled the Chevelle bodies from the firewall back. Chevrolet employees only installed or assembled the parts on Chevelles that were made and shipped in from other satellite plants. The Fisher Body foremen told me any decision regarding the rear black accent panel on '66 SS Chevelles would have been made by Fisher Body, with the knowledge of Chevrolet management. Early in the '66 production year the demand for the '66 SS Chevelles in the Atlanta region was greater than anticipated. The Fisher Body line was very labor intensive, and Atlanta Fisher Body production had gotten behind Chevrolet orders by as much as six weeks. A new '66 SS Chevelle took three days to cycle through the assembly line process from the issuance of a Fisher Body assembly line sequence number to the finished product that was driven off the assembly line. Other Fisher Body assembly plants that were producing Chevelle bodies were staying closer to the production demands than the Atlanta Fisher Body plant. Early in the '66 production year changes that had been made to increase production at other Fisher Body assembly plants were being implemented at the Atlanta Fisher Body plant. One of the changes that went into affect was to install fewer time consuming accessories on cars that were produced for dealership inventories and not specific customer orders. GM had a policy of installing several accessories on the early production cars so consumers would see the accessories and want then on cars during the production year. Another change was to defer installation of some customer requested accessories to the dealerships after delivery of the cars. Also the black rear accent panel that was being painted on '66 SS Chevelles had been dropped to save time and labor. One of the Fisher Body line foreman told me the cost of the black rear accent panel was included in the cost of the Super Sport option, which would explain why only '66 SS Chevelles had this feature.
Near the end of the Atlanta Fisher Body '66 production year customer demand for the '66 SS Chevelles had been met. The cut off date for dealers to special order the '66 models had passed. Fisher Body in Atlanta had received information that all '67 SS Chevelles would have a mandatory black rear accent panel. Near the end of the Atlanta Fisher Body '66 production year a '67 SS Chevelle was run down the line to check quality and for production information for the coming '67 model year. I was told this '67 SS Chevelle was pulled from the line, inspected and later destroyed. Shortly after this point Fisher Body in Atlanta did reinstate the black rear accent panel on very late production '66 SS Chevelles. None of the GM employees could remember or even say they were given a reason for the reinstatement of the black rear accent panel on late production '66 SS Chevelles. Both Fisher Body foremen seem to think reinstating the black rear accent panel late in the '66 production year on the '66 SS Chevelles produced in Atlanta was in preparation for production of the '67 SS Chevelles. No one could give me any kind of date for these or any of the other mentioned changes, other than it was early or very late in the '66 production year in the Atlanta Fisher Body plant. All these changes that I have mentioned would explain the changes seen in the Chevrolet literature that I mentioned earlier.
At this point I want to mention I have owned many original paint '66 SS Chevelles over the last thirty years, and few had the black rear accent panel. I have talked to original owners of '66 SS Chevelles with photos of their new cars and the vast majority did not have the black rear accent panel. I lived across the street from my local Chevy dealer from '52 until '68 and remember three L-78 '66 SS Chevelles very well. All three Chevelles were Atlanta built cars. The first Chevelle was an aztec bronze early production car without the black rear accent panel. The second Chevelle was a madeira maroon mid year production without the black rear accent panel. The third Chevelle was a regal red fourth week of July car with the black rear accent panel. This third regal red '66 L-78 Chevelle has been sitting in my garage for over thirty years. I was there the night this car arrived on the truck, and have known the history of this '66 SS Chevelle since day one.
I have examples of '66 SS Chevelles delivered to the dealership without the rear black accent panel only to have the dealership paint the rear panels black. A few years ago I talk to a body shop foreman that worked for a large Chevrolet dealer in Cincinnati, Ohio in '66. He told me the sales manager had the rear panel painted black on all '66 SS Chevelles with black vinyl tops and black convertible tops because they sold quicker. Keep in mind that some dealerships could have had examples of previously delivered cars on the lot with the rear black accent panel. Also showroom brochures, dealer albums and accessory books showing '66 SS Chevelles with the rear black accent panel had been distributed to the public. The dealer could have painted the rear panel to promote sales or meet their customers demands no matter when or where the cars were produced.
In conclusion I think the evidence is very conclusive that some Atlanta '66 SS Chevelles were factory produced with the black rear accent panel. These cars would more than likely be produced early or very late in the '66 production year. Of the total production the percentage of factory produced '66 SS Chevelles with the rear black accent panel should be very low. I would like to provide more specific GM documentation to illustrate my points and time frames, but at this time I don't have any. If any one has documentation to prove or disprove any of the points I have made regarding '66 SS Chevelles produced in Atlanta or any other Fisher Body plant, please contact me at my e-mail address (email@example.com). I would be interested in discussing this issue with any one that has a interest and positive attitude.
I hope this information will help those that are interested and open minded to understand the situation that existed in GM facilities in '66. The one thing you can always say about GM , "Never say Never", when it comes to meeting production or making a dollar for the stock holders.
My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Happy motoring.......Mr. Bill.