375 Ponies: 1969 Chevelle SS396 L78

If I just happened to have a large chunk of money sitting in my bank account right now, I would be making an offer on this ’69 Chevelle right now instead of writing this post! You see, this SS396 is a 375 horsepower barn find that is ready to hit the street. It’s an L78 car that has already had all the work done to make it a reliable driver. If you’ve been on the hunt for a real deal SS396, this one appears to fit the bill! You can find it here on eBay in Pickerington, Ohio with a BIN of $95k and the option to make an offer.

The seller included all the important numbers in their ad, which is a must when your asking close to six figures for a car like this. Concourse level L78 Chevelles can fetch over $100k, but I think the seller’s asking might be a tad high for this one. Completely original cars can fetch crazy money these days, but this one isn’t a perfectly original car. Besides having been repainted a number of years ago, the original engine was replaced under warranty. It’s the right engine for this car and is to L78 specs, but it isn’t the engine this car left the factory with. If you are planning on driving it the way it was meant to be driven, it really isn’t an issue, but those looking to buy it as a long term investment might want to take that into account when they make an offer.

It really is a beautiful car inside and out. The odometer is showing 95,516 miles, so if the interior is all original it was well cared for. You don’t see many SS cars with a bench seat and a column shifter, but I’m not sure if that adds or hurts value. Thoughts?

Hagerty values a #1 condition L78 at $110,000, a #2 at $78,800, #3 at $59,500 and a #4 at $40,700 so the spread in values is quite wide. This one is in nice condition and appears to be between #1 and #2 condition, so their asking isn’t too far off. It will boil down to what they are willing to accept and how badly you want a Chevelle SS396!


  1. Rock On

    Actually Josh, I have seen a number of Chevelle SS with bench and column shift. Both big block and small block in various model years. Whereas your reader ad the other day of a 1970 Camaro Z28 with column shift must be as rare as a Chupacabra!!!

  2. Steve R

    They show no proof the car is an actual L78. It’s just a Chevelle with L78 parts unless and until they show an up close picture of the build sheet with the option and the VIN. Even if it turns out to be real, it’s probably priced double the market. There is a lot wrong with it including a non-matching number engine that could have been acquired anytime over the last 49 years. Unless they have a receipt how does anyone know the engine was replaced under warranty?

    I think this car has been brought up on this site before, and at least one Chevelle forum. I don’t think people were impressed.

    Steve R

    • gbvette62

      I realize that almost every seller of a car missing it’s original engine, wants to think it originally had a high horse engine, but this car does appear to have possibly started life with a 396/375.

      The “CX” code on the trans tag indicates a 69 heavy duty Turbo 400, from a 375 horse car. The Julian date for when the trans was assembled is January 29, 69, which fits with the trim tag’s body build date of 02B, the second week of February.

      The block is a 69 warranty/service replacement block. CE971757 decodes as a Chevrolet replacement block (CE), built in 69 (9), The 71757 is just the sequential serial number of the CE block, and isn’t of use in identifying the engine. 3955272 is the casting number for a 396 block, only used in 69 (though the seller added an extra 5 to the number he posted).

      It’s a shame the original block is gone, and I’m usually skeptical of these kinds seller’s claims and stories, but this car has some pretty good clues to it possibly being a true 396/375.

      • Steve R

        I have several friends that have bought “date correct” CE and installed them in their documented non-matching number muscle cars. The transmission is eveidence, but there is no proof. If the seller is going to ask that kind of money they need to do a better job of verifying what they have.

        This car looks like it was done on the cheap. Look at the fuel line, the rally’s, heater hoses, steering wheel, spend a few more dollars and make it look more correct. Maybe then people will give them some benefit of the doubt.

        Steve R

      • Mr Firth

        gb you still on the Julian calendar ?

  3. Rhett

    69 L-78 cars are pretty hard running machines. In fact, the fastest GM A-body in the Pure Stock drags is a bench seat L-78 2 door sedan, runs high-mid 11’s. Faster than all the Stage 1’s, W-30’s, LS-6’s, Ram Air II’s and IV’s, etc..

    • NSDQ

      Source to support this statement?

      • Rhett

        Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race site- 20 years worth of actual ET’s from all of these cars, and every car was tech’d and passed as stock. No GM A-body has run faster than Tim Clary’s 69 L-78, and that includes his own LS6, and both cars have been tuned by the best. It’s all in the spreadsheets, enjoy:


  4. G Keller
    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      In my excitement to write it up, I forgot to check and see if we had already featured it. Sorry about that everyone!

  5. Mark Lawson

    I had a buddy from Arkansas back in 1981 that had a 69 SS L78 like this (bench seat and column shift) only in green. Bought it bone stock from his uncle (original owner.) I drove it from Traverse City Michigan to northern Indiana while he slept off the night before. That car was wicked fast, and positively DRANK gasoline. You really had to get used to the accelerator, or you were constantly chirping away from stop signs. A total, straight-line monster.

  6. Vince H

    I would not rate this any higher than a #3 car. Lots of little things need done. Don’t think it is worth any more than 45k.

    • Bryan Turner

      On the best possible day in my opinion as well.

  7. JW

    I thought I had seen this car before.

  8. CanuckCarGuy

    Nice car, but there are too many clones, tributes and close-to versions on the streets for me to pony up this kind of cash for a Chevelle. The broader audience won’t appreciate its value (real or perceived)…and it’s a fellow with deep pockets within that broader audience, that you’re hoping is a future buyer of your “investment”.

  9. Classic Steel

    Over priced.
    Nice but so is a real early real Shelby!

    Why is it everyone has a million dollar car until they sell and go to replace and say hey or damn it’s
    high !

    Where do we cap at? 250k ?

  10. Troy s

    At one time these made money for the owner by way of illegal street racing. Maybe even legal bracket racing at the local strip, I mean really, a solid lifter rat motor wasn’t much good for anything else anyways, right? Ear to ear grins, ringing in the ears, and the smell of high octane fuel were side benefits.😉
    Now it’s all about the dollar, and rightly so if nearly six figures is changing hands in a risky business deal. Not my kinda fun at all, sorry.

  11. John

    Stupid money!

  12. sluggo

    I love period muscle cars, but at these prices all they are is garage art because people dont dare risk their investment actually driving them.
    So, while I have done restorations, I dont care for these and instead prefer a restomod with updated brakes, suspension and drivetrain to make it enjoyable to put miles on.
    Not some silly wingnut obsessing over the grease pencil scribblings on the firewall replicating the factory marks, or downgraded because its got the wrong battery terminals, or Hose clamps.

  13. BRAKTRCR Member

    I had a 69 el Camino, for 20 years. When I bought it, it had a 350, and a 2 barrel. That quickly evolved into a 454. In my research, in preparation of smogging it, I learned that only the 325 hp 396 cubic inch engines, with auto trannies did NOT have an AIR pump. All the others did. So, I labeled my 454, as a 396/325. This car should have an AIR pump. Another fact about 69’s and later, SS ‘s did not have a specific VIN number. So without an accurate build sheet… This car is nowhere near the kind of money. It’s a beautiful car, but I doubt it’s pedigree

  14. RichS

    This hurts to look at. Dad had one of these when I was a tot and when the gas crunch hit, he traded it in.

    On a Vega.

    Yeah. :-/

  15. Dt1

    You can buy these cars for less than 50 k the market is soft now thx,to gas monkey, n other who are rebuilding a lot

  16. dave

    Non-matching #s and auto on the tree? $110k – don’t think so.

  17. Grunt0331

    I tend to seriously agree with the others who have stated that the asking price is a bit high for what we see here…a 375 horse/4 spd car would obviously bring more than a auto-trans on the column, regardless of the other important goodies.

    What I don’t like to see on a potential $95k BIN/Make-Offer car is an obscene, non-stock rake, oversize tires, and a very messy engine compartment. Scratch the rake, clean-up the messy engine compartment, and have the overall stock appearance that it left the factory with (tires, etc), and $40k would seem more realistic…from what I can see (and read), I’d put a $35k cap on this one.

Leave a Reply to Vince H Cancel reply

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.