1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 4-Speed Project

Between 1973 and 1977, I owned a ’67 SS 396 Chevelle very much like this Gladstone, Illinois domiciled example. So much has been written and said about these cars that I usually take a review pass on them when they surface. This example is so similar to mine that I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane, care to come along? It is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $7,100, reserve not yet met.

Briefly, the SS396 Chevelle was a big seller for Chevrolet in ’67, 63K copies, or thereabout. Little changed from its ’66 predecessor, the biggest differences were minor styling cues and some safety mandated things like seatback locks, standard four-way flashers, standard back-up lights, and a double compartment master cylinder. The sales brochure showed two engines available, a standard 325 gross HP motor and the optional “L34” rated at 350 HP. What is not listed is RPO L78, the 375 HP, high-performance variant. It wasn’t available until April 1st of that year and total production was a scant 612 copies, less than one percent of the total. And of those 612 assembled, there are probably about 3,000 or so still in existence…Yes, they get cloned. However, in ’67, the SS396 model was exactly that, a unique model with its own designation, that being the second and third digit of the VIN equal to “38”. This subject car qualifies as genuine, having been built the fourth week of April at the Kansas City assembly plant.

According to the rear license plate, this Chevelle appears to have been off the road since 1976. But before we delve into the particulars,  let’s get the heavy lifting out of the way, this one’s a roller with no engine. The seller suggests, “optioned with the close-ratio m21 4 speed and CI code 3.73 Posi both original to the car so it’s possible it was a 396/375 l78 car.” Yes possible, but unlikely as the 350 HP engine was available with that same set-up and there were 17K of those built, according to chevellestuff.net, as compared to 612 with the uber collectible L78 option. Even if this Chevy had that engine, it doesn’t now, so it’s irrelevant. The build sheet, the actual build sheet, and not one copied from some other car, is the only way to know for sure.  The Muncie transmission, however, is the real deal! It is stamped with the VIN’s sequence number and was produced on April 21, 1967; it lines up correctly.

The body of this Chevy is a bit rough but then again, these were rust magnets, at least domiciled in less than optimal climatic conditions. It is a fairly straight body but has a bit of rust hiding in the lower fenders and quarters, pretty reasonable all-in-all. While the trunk floor is rusted through, the passenger compartment’s floors are holding their own, for now – though the passenger “toe-board” is apparently going soft. The mangled front bumper is not surprising, they were about as light-weight an affair as you’ll ever find. I know I went through at least one on mine. The trim and grille are correct for an SS396 – you will frequently find a replacement Malibu grille on one of these. Sitting there and gazing at this Chevelle, even with the optional SS body stripe, which mine didn’t have, transports me back in time. I can’t completely identify the wheels but they look like a take on Keystone Classics. Originally, the ’67 SS came with unique wheel covers; first-year rally wheels were an option. The wheel covers were usually turned into frisbees on Day 2 and swapped for something else more sporting than the covers and their 14×6 steelies. Mine had Chevrolet “mag” style wheel covers, which I later substituted for 14×6 rally wheels with a mix of ’67 (short) and ’68 (tall) center caps.

The interior is a standard bench seat environment that seems to be less often found than the bucket seat/center console arrangement. The seller mentions this as a “radio delete” car which means that it was just ordered without a radio as opposed to it actually being deleted. He, or someone, has installed an aftermarket unit in that “delete” opening, but he does state that he has the delete plate. He further adds that he has the original blue seats and door cards so what you see here is a later addition.

These never fail to impress dollar-wise, even in deleterious condition, not that I would describe this car that way. It definitely has potential. Would I want another? No, you can’t go home as so to speak. The ’70s were a different time and I know I was a different person and probably shouldn’t have owned a car like this in those years. There was always some kind of hi-jinx going on with it and the law was a lot more lenient to stupid car tricks 47 years ago than they are today. As Chevelle SS396s go, this example seems like a reasonable, though not inexpensive (you pay for that “38” designation), base for a project. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Robert White

    In 1976 I drove my brother’s 1967 Beaumont Sport Deluxe 396CID 400 Automatic Turbo, 12 Bolt Positraction at 110mph just for FUN with biased-ply snow tires on the rear.

    I could cherp the tires into second gear if I stomped on it. Light poles zipped by at 110mph as I recall. It was typical 16 year old wannabe race car driver stuff but fun anyways because I got to imagine what it was like to go fast only at 110mph.

    Cop cars in 1976 could not go faster.

    And that’s all I cared about as a 16 year old driver.

    Bob

    Like 9
  2. Richard F

    Always liked the ’67 Chevelle SS…great looking cars with nice sharp lines and one of the best looking hoods of all them (minus the 70-72 functional cowl induction versions). But I’m really diggin’ those wheels – those are awesome! Keystone Rogues – you can’t hardly find a nice set of those anywhere!

    Like 2
  3. Big_Fun Member

    I enjoyed your write up Jim O.!
    Today, in a virtual learning class, we learned about word tracks – a phrase or a few enticing sentences, with a call to action at the end. If I had to sum up in your article in just one phrase, it would be this: “There’s a hefty surcharge regarding anything SS396. You in?”

    Like 2
  4. Troy s

    Since it’s long gone anyways maybe a 427, the engine a lot of guys Really wanted in their brand new Super Sport Chevelle. Like that color on these, the wheels are cool, the interior doesn’t grab my attention like a GTO though.
    I keep wondering about that evil looking Chevelle parked next to it…

  5. PaulG

    Owned countless 66-67 SD-396’s in the 70’s that were uber cheap back then. I daily drove a 67 for a few years before upgrading to a really nice 67. This would be a good candidate but these cars are not cheap anymore…

    Like 5
    • PaulG

      SS, not SD… what happened to the edit feature?!

      Like 5
      • Steve R

        You can only edit if you are a dues paying member. It makes proofreading that much more important.

        I would have figured you were Canadian if you hadn’t corrected the typo.

        Steve R

        Like 4
  6. Angrymike

    Probably the same thing that happened to the adding pics feature…….

  7. jerry z

    At least its not Marina Blue! There are a few SS’s in my area that are complete but need restoration in the $15K range. Wonder what the reserve is on this car? Enjoyed my ’66 SS for 11 years before I sold it in 1995. Fun car and severely abused it!

  8. lawyerjeffmc

    As of noon on 10/31, the bid was $9,300 with the reserve not met.

    Like 1
  9. ErnieSC

    Just curious everyone……………………..
    I am 73 now so I grew up with the 67’s. I personally have NEVER seen an SS with Body Side Moldings! The Malibus came standard with them. Basic Models could get as Option.
    I’m presently doing a Full Restoration on a 67 Malibu I bought NEW, 12/66 and I decided to leave the Body Side Moldings off as I think it looks Cleaner without. And at my age, I’m not concerned about putting it back “Original” as they’re Original only One time Anyhow. I made some other changes as well but saved all the Original Parts for whomever when I’m gone.

    Like 4
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      ErnieSC:

      It’s a two-piece stripe, not an actual molding. It was an option so some had them and some didn’t, mine was in the latter category.

      The wheel opening moldings and rocker panel piece are correct.

      Thx,

      JO

  10. kent knorr

    I have owned the same 1967ss for over 48 years. Did a frame off retso on it 6 years ago. Its a true ss with the 38 on the vin tag. It has the 396/375motor with 3.73 gears. The trany is a turbo 400. the color is Marina Blue, with light blue interior.

    Like 1

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