Vintage Road Test: How Tough Was the 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396?
"Of all the things the SS396 should be, it is competitive at the drags," he wrote. He put the car on the track without the magazine's typical strip tune-up, save for a tweak to the Holley four-barrelódisassembly of the vacuum diaphragm housingóto get the secondaries to open sooner.
The day was cool and the car faced a 30-mph headwind. The Uniroyal Tiger Paws didn't get much bite, and the car initially ran 16.30 at 86 mph. "Since traction seemed the major problem, we thought a few of the match racer tricks might be of some help," he said. "So the tires were burned through puddles of bleach for super cleaning, and some liquid traction compound painted on. This done, the machine recorded a better 15.70 e.t. at 92 mph. We realized that without the benefit of adequate dragging skins and a proper collector system, you can't expect miracles, but the wind and cold track had something to do with it, too."
The "without adequate dragging skins" comment is interesting because we found an outtake (seen here) of the Chevelle's trunk full of the aforementioned bleach, traction compound, and a pair of Casler slicks. Maybe they didn't fit. Maybe Dahlquist ran out of time. Not sure.
But he also noted that at the track that day was "a '65 Chevelle SS with 375 hp, NASCAR Holley, slicks, and who knows what else, that wasn't going more than a second quicker."
So conditions were definitely an issue.
He summed up the Chevelle by calling it "the type of vehicle we hated to part with. It has just the right measures of ride-handling and acceleration that would make it the nuts for all kinds of driving, especially long trips. It's a fun car for today's dull traffic, and if it helps relieve the tedium of travel, you can't ask much more."