Big Block Survivor: 1968 Chevelle SS 396

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Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

Something you don’t expect to find every day is a big block SS 396 survivor that has been largely untouched! It’s up for sale here on eBay where bidding is currently under $14,000 but hasn’t met the reserve yet. The Chevelle can be found in Amherst, Ohio if you want to go take a look in person.

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When I saw the vinyl top, I immediately cringed, as many “rust free” cars are spoiled by bubbles under their vinyl tops. But even in the close up shots this one looks great! The “Butternut Yellow” paint looks good from a distance, as does the chrome.

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I’m not sure if they are original specification or not, but the red line tires along with the original wheel covers would make this car stand out at most shows. That’s not saying I wouldn’t have a set of rally wheels with fat radials for cruising, though!

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As the seller states, there are some small chips in the paintwork that have been touched up. I appreciate the fact that they do a good job of accurately portraying the condition of the car, showing both the good and the bad.

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There’s not much bad to say about the interior! I have a hard time believing this is the original seat upholstery, but if it is, someone sure took good care of this car! 95,120 miles I can believe, but this seat? What do you think?

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If you look closely, there’s been some touch up paint done on the engine as you can catch over spray in spots. But it doesn’t look bad, and the thought of putting my foot in this one kinda outweighs any touchup that’s been done. Besides, you wouldn’t want it to be too perfect–then the only thing you could do is clean it up and drive it! And that’s exactly what I’d do!

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Comments

  1. RoughDiamond

    That Chevelle really looks nice! I predict it will bring a pretty penny even with the column shift automatic and bench seat. I have been told that the stock 325 HP 396 was actually a better engine than the stock 350 HP 396. My only experience was with the 325 HP in a ’69 Chevelle SS with a bench seat manual 3-speed floor shift.

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  2. Jeff V

    This is a carbon-copy of one I saw in Navy boot-camp in Orlando ’76. It belonged to a regular Navy petty-officer company commander. The 396/325hp engine was the lower of the 3 four-barrels offered 325/350/375. My hs gf’s dad had a 4dr Caprice/Impala that had the two-barrel 396, it still moved!

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  3. Doug Towsley

    Sweet car and very nice condition! This is a solid investment grade car, But the reason our Chevelles are not all stock is that we cant afford one this nice, so we started with projects that were rough. That COULD be a potent sleeper. Shift kit in the trans and swap in a 454 and keep the original 396 stock and on the shelf. Personally i prefer a small block. The big Blocks are fun but the weight penalty and handling and braking isnt as nice.

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  4. Curt

    I worked at GM in 1968 and ordered one for myself. I do not however remember that stripping used in 1968. Aare you sure its for real?

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    • GOPAR

      I had a red one with white striping like this. It’s the real deal.

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  5. stillrunners

    Funny my old school buddy was on the hunt with his inheritance….he’s out of town maybe an hour from me east….answers an add for a $25,000 low mileage 1 owner 396 – same color car as pictured. He meet the guy – he was another 20 minutes east of him – he went to the same high school we did but he was 7 years a head of us – it was his high school graduation present ! He really wasn’t the hot rod type – but his mom liked the color combo so he got it and didn’t drive it much so it was low mikes and all….we were the class of 1975…..

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  6. Idiot Boy

    This car isn’t gonna be cheap. Looks authentic, possibly even front seat upholstery but that’d require closer inspection. You can see a second shot of correct appearing front seatbacks in another of his auctions for SSR wheels. Engine has been detailed, but overspray was typical from the factory, esp on short water pump hose. No one’s trying to fool anyone with this engine spruce up. A real survivor, well taken care of with that number of miles would logically have had plenty of parts and hoses and clamps replaced, so this is an honest looking representation of a babied 95K car with a bit of detailing. Armrests look right, stripes look original. You see clues all over the photos and other eBay listings that the guy is an enthusiast and has a collection of nice looking cars and memorabilia. Betting that interior smells old. The cut of the vinyl top looks factory but not having any bumps would be very surprising as rain and wash water invariably seeped in beneath the stainless trim and a car with this many miles has seen plenty of washes. Also, doesn’t appear to have any delamination occurring at the sails which would be typical of a survivor top, so it may well be a correct replacement vinyl top or someone has put forth the effort to lift and re-glue parts of it. Nice property and garages – seller has money and someone who opts for Historical Plates usually knows what he has, at least here in CA where few people have even heard of them. Looks like a potentially valuable car worthy of inspection and verification by someone like Jeff at factoryaccurate.com.

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    • James Whitlock

      You must know the owner of this chevelle, because your praising this car with high marks!

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  7. Jubjub

    Wow. Rarely see them like this. My parents had one of these but white with black bucket seat and console. Same wheelcovers and stripes. We called him Sam the Super Sport. My sisters fought each other to take him to school. My eldest brother really wanted Sam when sale time came, but my dad said nay. Not out of concern for bro’s well being. He knew he wouldn’t keep him up nice.

    One of my sisters got a ticket for drag racing. Another claimed a late night trip from Morehead KY to Standiford field in Louisville made in a very fast and timely fashion.

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  8. Mark

    I had a 1968 with the 325hp and a 3 speed on the floor. It ran strong and once even outran a GTX 440 375hp in a street race. I practically gave the car away when I was going overseas. Regretted it every since.

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  9. FedericoH

    There are a couple fishy things about this car.

    The engine touch-up & looks like new Chrome/stainless bits on it. The brake booster and other bits under the hood are all repainted, not OEM finish.

    The photo closeup of the stripe..look like poorly masked repainted stripes with fresh clear over them..(originals are not painted, but applied 3M Cycolac exterior vinyl stripes) not looking too original there. Finally, no way that seat cover is original. Close inspection vin numbers etc. will tell the real story of the car story of the car, but those details above are suspect as to originality.

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    • Doug Towsley

      Originality is a subjective term. Thank you for pointing out what you can spot. I think the consensus is in the pictures *IT APPEARS* Nice and largely original. Others have noted that clearly this car has been extensively detailed and spruced up.
      However, seeing as it is an extremely NICE looking car regardless, It is very likely to go for a lot of money no matter what so, If I were advising someone on a purchase like this, there is NO replacement for a First person inspection and strongly advise someone who is an expert.
      I believe the seller? Stated he is a member of “Team Chevelle” and if so, he is something of an expert. I have downloaded a ton of info from that site for our Chevelle projects and some great info on there. If I were selling a car like this you bet I would spruce it up and make it as nice looking as possible. But meeting the seller in person would also tell you a lot about HIM, And to many people we like to get a feel from the seller are they a snake or a true enthusiast? I like to try and support the good guys out there and nothing wrong with if its a fair deal putting some $$$$$ in his toy fund. I dont do vehicles for a living anymore but I peddle a little bit on the side to fund my own addiction.

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    • Doug Towsley

      I got side tracked on my reply. On originality, that IS very subjective. Stock and original looking? or 100 point concours?
      I know people who go to great lengths to compete and obsess over the smallest details.
      Many will replicate even factory flaws in the OCD pursuit of “Originality” but if you replicate something its not original.
      I know a guy who has a notebook of what the original grease pencil and chalk marks look like from the factory assy lines. I also am into vintage British bikes and cars and some owners will keep or install factory original substandard or defective parts. One big debate is original ignitions and charging systems. Lucas. Should I say more? I fit modern electronic ignitions and charging systems and you cant really see it when installed but my stuff runs. I know a well known collector who has an extensive collection of Triumphs and once restored they dont get started. He got his panties in a wad last year when he was excluded from judging in a show because he was asked to start the machine as that was a show requirement that all entered show vehicles had to run. He was quite upset and claims he will boycott that event until they accommodate him. Snooty SOB. Leave your trailer queens at home then.
      See: http://www.triumphmotorcycles.typepad.com/

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