A Passion for Biscaynes

By Leroy Levens #10027285 • Cloquet, MN

Photography by Jim Knight

The 1966 425hp, 427ci Chevrolet Biscayne two-door cars are the big, beautiful and powerful cars that I first experienced on the streets of Duluth, MN when I was only 18 years old. They made a big impression on me at the time (and still do today) so I guess you could say I have a passion for these particular cars. My first car as a teenager was a 1965 Chevelle SS with a 300hp 327ci motor that I occasionally street raced. I could usually beat the 325hp/396ci Chevys around town, but not the 360hp models that came out in ’66.

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I have owned four of these great cars over the years including this one which has the lowest mileage of all. Chevrolet only made 183 of these cars and I still have three of them. I’m particularly fond of the 1966 models because they are lighter than the ’67s and in my opinion better looking.

In May 1966, my friend Jack Enlund bought a brand new 425hp/427ci Biscayne from Larson Chevrolet in Superior, WI. It was black and equipped with a Muncie 4-speed and 4.56 rear end. There were two of these cars in Duluth at the time. The other was a bronze car owned by Dick Ribaudo that he purchased at Arrow Chevrolet in Duluth.

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In the spring of 1967 Jack ordered a new 427ci-powered Corvette and sold the black Biscayne to me, which I drag-raced on weekends at various Minnesota dragways. I was only 18 at the time and had to work two jobs to afford the car and the 110 octane fuel it consumed at a rate of 4-5 mpg in town and 6-7 on the highway. One of my jobs was at Andy’s Skelly in Duluth which was owned by Rod Anderson, father of NHRA Pro Stock Champion Greg Anderson. Rod still lives in Duluth and has recently restored his 426ci Hemi-powered 1940 Ford Coupe that he drag raced back in the 60’s.

I sold the black ’66 Biscayne when I got married, but bought it back in 1983 and did a complete body-off restoration. In October 1986, I bought Dick Ribaudo’s bronze Biscayne, which was still in Minnesota and only had 16,000 miles on it at the time.
[envira-gallery id="1339"]In June 1987, I took the black Biscayne to the Super Chevy Show in Martin, Michigan where I met Don Tommey (Fowlerville, Michigan). He asked me if I’d like to buy another 425/427 1966 Biscayne. This car only had 1,024 actual miles on it at the time. The car was a radio/heater delete car optioned with rare K66 transistorized ignition, 4.88 Spicer 12-bolt Positraction rear end, Muncie M21 4-speed transmission and metallic brakes. The car had a base price of $2,489.50 (see original window sticker) and the M21 Muncie 4-speed option added $230.03, the transistorized ignition added another $73.19 and finally the 425hp/427ci V8 Turbojet engine option added $444.38. The total with a few other options came to $3,315.52. The car was originally purchased by John White (Toledo, Ohio) from Carl Schmidt Chevrolet in Perrysburg, Ohio. John drag raced the Biscayne until 1969 when he bought a COPO ’69 Camaro. He had never cut the Biscayne, tubbed it or changed it from original except for minimal lettering on the front fenders and doors and the installation of 5.13 gears. Another Detroit drag racer bought the car from John in 1969 after John bought the Camaro. Unfortunately, the new owner eventually lost the car to his bank when he used the Biscayne as $1,000 collateral for a loan on a bar and couldn’t make good on it. Don ended up with the car in 1977, owning it for the next 10 years. I spent time with Don watching the drags at the Martin, Michigan Super Chevy Show. A car collector himself, Don was a test engineer with General Motors working at the Milford Proving Grounds.

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