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1965 Impala SS 396 cam question


Frank Montgomery

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A cam question for our 1965 Impala SS 396. First off let me say that I know there were no L34 396's in 1965. Bear with me as I lay this out. Our Evening Orchid car is an M20 4spd. It is an 07B build-date car with the L35 325 hp 396 engine. Here's what I find exciting about this car: the suffix code on the block is LF. Per Alan Colvin's Chevrolet by the Numbers, LF means "HD 3spd, 4spd with Holley 4BBL". Our car has the Holley carb and its Holley cast iron intake manifold. In earlier years, we had two different 1967 L34 350 hp Chevelles. One a T400 and one a 4spd. Both of these 67's had the single feed 4 bbl Holley and the Holley cast iron manifolds. Prior to owning this 65 SS Impala, I had always thought the Holley equipped 396 motors were all 360 (66) or 350 (67) horse motors. According to Mr. Colvin's book, it appears to me that the only difference between the 1965 LF 325 horse motor and a 1966 360 horse motor is the cam. If I read his book correctly, the heads, intake, carb, exhaust, etc. are all the same. Just the cam. I love the 350 / 360 horse cars. The 325 horse motors are pretty anemic IMHO. What is the opinion of others within the AACA? Those of you who are more knowledgeable than I regarding 396's, did I read Chevrolet by the Numbers correctly? And a big question: how and where do I find an OEM 1966 360 horse grooved cam for my 65 396?

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Thanks for the response, Mark. I started looking at cam maker websites and quickly got overwhelmed. I tried looking for NOS factory cams on ebay. Like you said, not likely to find one that way anymore. How did you go about finding the correct cam? Did they machine the oil groove at Crower, or did you have a machine shop do it? Did you get lifters, pushrods, etc all from Crower, too? Would you mind sharing the part numbers and specs of the cam and parts you used? Lots of questions, sorry.

Regarding the Rochester / Holley carb in those years. From my reading, it was Chevrolet's intent to use Rochester Quadrajets on all their cars, but Rochester was not able to meet the demand. So GM went to Holley and even Carter (who built a carb that looked like a Q-jet). A Holley won't fit on a Q-jet manifold, so that's why the Holley equipped engines have their intake manifolds with HOLLEY cast into them. They Holley carb & intake is actually a bit rare for 1965, the first year for the 396, and is most likely seen on cars built late in the model year. In 1966 & 67 the L35 325 horse motors like ours all got the Q-jet carb and intakes. The Chevelle L34 360/350 horse motors all got the Holley carb / intake set up. I got pretty excited when I learned our mid-July built 65 Impala was a suffix code LF motor. 

Again, appreciate your time.  Frank Montgomery

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