Backyard Survivor ’66 Chevelle SS396 Four-Speed Found in North Carolina.
“I was gonna fix it up, like everybody else does, put bigger brakes on it,” he said. “So many things got in the way. It never happened.”
Graham bought the 1966 Chevelle SS396 after walking into LaPointe Chevrolet in Charlotte, North Carolina, thinking about buying a new Super Sport.
He had set GTO prices that were “were way too high.” He drove a new Oldsmobile 4-4-2, a 1965 model that “did not have the sail panels on the back,” which he preferred on the Chevelle.
Graham chose a four-speed transmission above the normal three-speed, a push-button AM radio, Astro bucket seats, and a replicated wood steering wheel after deciding on the Chevelle.
He also fitted a tinted windshield and undercoating as a preventative measure.
He began dating Marilyn, his future wife, eight months after purchasing the automobile.
“Our courtship was in the car, and I really hated bucket seats,” she explains. “I’m beginning to have flashbacks of different, uh, situations that we experienced.”
John joined in the laughter, and she did as well. On October 5, 1968, they married and had three children.
Graham drove the car until the mid-1980s, when he decided it was time to purchase something new.
Because he didn’t have a garage, he parked the Chevelle in his Charlotte backyard, where it remained as a keepsake for 35 years.
When Graham turned 80 and the automobile was clearly decaying, he and his wife realized that he would never fix it and that selling it would be the best option.
Jonathan Large, a Chevelle aficionado who resided 100 miles north of Graham’s home in Charlotte, was contacted by the old guy and expressed interest in the car. For a few months, they met and talked.
The two guys waited until they found a buyer who, rather than flipping or parting out the vehicle for a profit, would restore it before making a deal.
When the car left, Marilyn and John were happy and smiling, knowing that the car had found a new home and would be restored rather than being taken up.