In 1966, Chevrolet vastly improved the horsepower available in the small lightweight Chevy II when it offered the powerful L79 engine for the top of the line option. Gaining its status in the Corvette previously, the L79 engine was rated at 350 horsepower from the lightweight 327 small block V8 for the 1966 Nova SS. The L79 featured a performance hydraulic cam, aluminum intake, and Holley carburation. The camshaft was extremely popular for its performance results on both the track and street and sold extremely well at dealer part counters. The powerful L79 motor with the hydraulic cam offered great performance without constant maintenance like its solid lifter counterparts.
The Chevy II underwent a complete restyling in 1966 into what many people consider the most desirable example of the car. With bold new styling, humped fenders, a semi-fastback roof line, and an angular rear end, the upgrades brought the car into the style of the larger Chevrolets. The performance edition was called the Nova Super Sport. With the lightweight new styling package of the Chevy II and the new performance options, the sales of 1966 Chevy II Nova jumped roughly 40% in 1966.
For the 1966 Nova Super Sport model with an L79 engine, only around 3,500 models were produced. The power and history of the L79 coupled with the lightweight new styling package of the 1966 Nova SS has made these cars extremely sought after collectibles as proven by sales results breaking $100,000!!
Some interesting period drag racing results with information of the legendary status of the L79 can also be found here: