396 Project: 1968 Chevrolet Impala Custom Coupe

Bucking the trend of many barn find automobiles these days, the seller isn’t asking for stratospheric money for this long-parked piece of Detroit history. Sure, it doesn’t run and has evidence of rust in places, but it’s a loaded Chevy Impala Custom Coupe (aka formal roof) with a 396 engine. It’s been sitting for more than 20 years, so Mother Nature has had its way with the paint, yet the interior may be no worse than very, very dirty. It’s located in Vancouver, Washington and available here on craigslist for a reasonable $3,250. Our buddy Ikey Heyman strikes again!

In 1968, the full-size Impala was in its fourth year of its fourth generation. Styling was little changed from the tweaking the car got the year before. Yet, Impala sales remained brisk at some 711,000 units out of total full-size production of more than one million cars (put end-to-end, that would be 3,500 miles of cars!) You could still get the Super Sport option in the Impala in 1968, but sales were dropping in favor of intermediate-sized muscle cars. You could still get any engine Chevy offered in the cars, with or without the SS trim. Such is the case with the seller’s car. It has the prized 396 V-8 yet is not an SS model. Kudos to Hemmings for a thorough ’68 Impala review.

We’re told that this 1968 Impala has been sitting since 1997 and we’re guessing it was at least partially covered given the relative decent condition of the car after all this time. That doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory because it isn’t. The paint has faded and peeled off in the places. The vinyl top has cracked and partly disappeared. And there is bubbling on the quarter panels, fenders, doors, and roof. But the rocker panels look solid, so if the floors and chassis haven’t been bitten, this is a fixable car. Once inside the Impala, it’s a mess, but it looks as though Garfield has done an admirable job of keeping critters out. A very thorough cleaning could produce an accepted cabin to tool around in.

One of the selling points for this car is the drivetrain. There is a numbers-matching 396 under the hood good for 325 hp paired with a THM 400 transmission. I always liked how Chevy put the engine size of their car in a little emblem along with the side marker lights. Given that the Impala has been on hiatus for 23 years, it’s doubtful that it runs and there is no mention as to what it might take to accomplish this. So, a complete rebuild of both is likely in order, especially since the car has 132,000 miles on it. The car left the factory with power steering and brakes, tilt steering and front and rear bumper guards. There is also an aftermarket air conditioner hanging under the dash to help minimize front seat legroom.

We’re told the car rolls frees as the photos show the car with two different sets of wheels, one with air in the tires and one without. The seller says the factory wheels and hubcaps will come with the sale along with new tires.  This Impala has the more formal roof used on the Caprice as opposed to the typical fastback version, which I think helps make the car stand out. Given what 50-60-year-old automobiles are going for these days, the seller isn’t trying to get rich. When restored, this could be a $25-30,000 car, so you would have more money to put toward the project itself than just the acquisition of the project.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    ” This Impala has the more formal roof used on the Caprice”…I always thought that these cars looked awkward with that HUGE rear expanse dictated by the formal roofline. The initial buy in on this one opens the door for a good project.
    GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 9
  2. Ken

    5 pounds of bondo under 396

    Like 4
  3. Jeff

    This may have been in a flood or submerged, that being said it has a recent aftermarket A.C. compressor indicating the previous owner had substantial money invested. It just doesn’t make sense that it was intentionally neglected.

    Like 7
  4. AMCFAN

    Flood vehicle

    Like 5
  5. Steve R

    I’m skeptical of the matching numbers claim. This engine has a long water pump, which wasn’t introduced until 1969. People didn’t generally switch all of their engines pulleys, brackets, accessories and rewire their alternator for no reason. However, at that asking price it shouldn’t make or break a deal, it’s just something to be aware of.

    Steve R

    Like 12
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Steve R:

      You are correct, I noticed the same thing. I have owned several of these and still have a ’68 convertible with a big block engine. To be correct, this example should have the short-pump (water) with a driver’s side-mounted alternator as ’68 was the last year for the short pump on both the small and big block engines, Corvette excluded.

      It’s not a simple swap either as the wiring and lower pullies from the ’68 engine won’t line up with the later’s extended pump. We would need to see the engine number pad to verify for certainty but I doubt the originality.

      JO

      Like 3
  6. MotorWinder

    My favorite 60s Chev is still the 67, the lines, front end & tail lights … perfection.
    My second car was a 68 Biscayne 6cyl Pgd, third car a 68 Impala SS 396 400THM Custom Coup as this one, fourth car a 68 impala 327 350THM fast back.

    Regardless which year anyone of us prefers, they all garner attention when polished & looking pretty at car shows.
    In fact I’m a proponent of the restomod. Converting a car to be more fuel efficient, safer and better handling is all for me!
    With retirement right around the corner, a 63 Parisienne 283 Pgd convertible will be getting a long overdue body job with multiple upgrades.

    Our new Fav and Sunday go for a cruise fun car is a 97 Boxster automatic. So it really doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, as long as we preserve our interest, and share with others to admire.

    In my opinion, this car is worthy of someones time and desire to own a piece of history, the cost is reasonable, lots of parts still available and prices will only continue going up on these forever aging classic vehicles.

    I really miss that Big Block sink you back in your seat car!!
    Now to have that drive train in a 67 Chev convertible =O =P

    Like 1
  7. Chris

    The car is mine…great write up btw.
    And thanks!!
    The motor is ORIGINAL with the suffix stamp being “iv”
    The engine turns over by hand, it came from “the dalles” oregon, it MOST DEFINATELY IS NOT A FLOOD VEHICLE. LOL.
    It sat for many years with the driver wing window open unfortunately.
    The long water pump and bracketry is unfortunate but its a product of the 1980s.

    Like 6
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Chris:

      Thanks for the answers (Yes, IV would be correct), ’68s are among my favorites. Good luck with your sale!

      JO

      Like 3
    • chips

      The bracketry change is likely the result of the aftermarket AC unit, so if you insist on bone stock remove it. On the other hand, if you like driving classic cars on a warm spring day, keep it.

      Like 3
      • bry593

        It does look like someone took pride in the car during the early 80’s, judging by the enormous alarm system under the hood and the later style R12 compressor with hose clamp return lines.

        Unfortunately, the car is severely corroded. Every piece that should have been reasonably protected in the desert area of the Bhagwan, exhibits excessive oxidation. Not sure how to explain that unless it was originally from the salty coast and was driven the Rajneeshpuram by a hippie. Kidding about the Rajneesh, although it may have been….

  8. timothy herrod

    the motor does look likes its been underwater but i don’t really see signs of water on the seats and such. Back in the late 70’s my 2 oldest brothers junked a 69 full size chevy the had a 396 2 barrel carb, i recall that it had a 265 horse power decal on the air cleaner. First and last 2 barrel big block i ever saw

  9. jOHNNY

    The valve covers don,t look like they are wide enough for a 396. it seems like more people are more interested in making a buck off of a car. Then the enjoyment of working on them. Check it out.Talk to the person about how far you have to haul it. The cost of that .Then the time and cost for parts to get it in nice running condition. $3,250 is close to half what it would cost new. I think its worth saving if the owner would work with you.

    • bry593

      Here’s a tip… Another way to distinguish the big block is the hose from the intake to the water pump. Gen 1 small block had internal bypass and so this hose was not needed.

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