By Drew Hardin
Nickey Speed Stuff, 1966
Photography Courtesy Petersen Publishing Company Archive
Dick Scritchfield, at the time Car Craft’s associate editor, made a swing through the upper Midwest in late 1966 and banked quite a few stories for Car Craft issues to come. One of his many stops was at the Nickey Chevrolet dealership in Chicago, where he documented one of the earliest 427 engine conversions into the then-brand-new ’67 Camaro.
That story, with the cover line “427 Makes Camaro Boss,” appeared in the magazine’s February 1967 issue. What didn’t make it to print was this photo of Nickey’s parts department and all the “Speed Stuff” on display there.
“Chicago’s Nickey Chevrolet recognizes that sales increase when factory cars are seen running in open competition,” Scritchfield wrote. “Nickey has long been associated with automotive racing, having sponsored a variety of Corvette and Chev-powered sports cars for the past 10 years.”
At the time, Nickey was sponsoring drag racer Dick Harrell (who was in the shop when “Scritch” was there and helped with the Camaro conversion). He also sponsored actor Dan Blocker, of the TV show “Bonanza” fame, who owned “a pair of Chevy Vinegaroons (a much-modified MK 10B Genie sports-racing car),” Scritch wrote. Another photo of the shop from a different angle showed the display of a large, autographed photo of Blocker in his
“With interest in drag racing reaching mammoth proportions, Nickey Chevrolet recognized the potential market involved and added a complete array of high-performance drag-racing merchandise to their 20,000-sq.-ft. parts area,” Scritch wrote. “This addition brought their total parts to more than 140,000 items in stock, ready for any customer whether he was interested in racing or just keeping his stocker running as efficiently as possible.”
(As a nod to those “stockers,” note what looks to be snow tires stacked next to the mag-equipped meats at the left edge of the photo.)
“Nickey’s parts shelves stock high-performance Chevrolet parts that some GM dealers don’t even know the factory builds,” Scritch pointed out. “It doesn’t take long, however, for the performance enthusiasts who had frequently received the cold shoulder from Chevrolet parts counters around the country to learn that Nickey’s was the place to get Chevy speed goodies, whether it was factory high-performance options or special components made by the speed equipment industry. With 27 people working in the parts department, it was easy to see how Nickey could rate as the largest Chevrolet parts dealer in the country.”
Close examination of the photo reveals a wide array of parts on display, including a large assortment of Ansen wheels. There are headers hanging from the wall at right next to rolls of masking tape; cans of spray paint in the racks at center; and along the back wall, everything from carb spacers and exhaust manifold gaskets to flywheels, valve covers, intake manifolds and more than a few Batman stickers.
Hey, in 1966, nothing was cooler than Batman.