427/4-Speed/Bench: 1968 Chevrolet Impala SS

I have been wanting to cover a ’68 Impala for some time, owing mostly to the fact that I own one and have for many years. I probably know more about what’s holding it together than I should but that’s the nature of owning a car that is now in excess of a half-century-old; “stuff” just goes wrong regularly. This example is one of 1,778 Impala SS 427 copies produced for the ’68 model year. It is located in  Saint Teresa, New Mexico and is available here on eBay for a BIN price of $9,900 with a “make an offer” option too.

By 1967, Chevrolet enthusiasts were flocking to the SS396 Chevelle and the newly introduced Camaro. Even the lowly Chevy II/Nova got in on the performance action so the large cars, the “B” bodies, had fallen out of favor from a muscle car perspective. This being the case, Chevrolet took a two-prong approach with the Impala, offering the SS package, option “Z03”, available with any engine and the SS427 package, option “Z24” which included a 427 CI V8 engine, heavy-duty suspension, wider wheels and tires, unique badging and model-specific hood/body features (’67 and ’68). It was possible to order both Z03 and Z24 but I’ll explain that in more detail later. Interesting to note is that in ’68, the SS427 Impala had no reference to the name “Impala” inside or out. By 1969, the standard Impala SS (Z03) was discontinued and just the Z24 shouldered on. So, how did the Impala SS427 do sales-wise? There were 2,124 built in ’67, 1,778 in ’68 and 2,455 in ’69 – a modicum of total Impala production over those three years. For additional reading, please check out this SS427 website.

Continuing in my vein of ferreting out cars with no engines, here’s another! This Impala would have originally been equipped with a 385 gross HP, 427 CI V8 (L36) engine. There was also a 425 HP, solid-lifter, 427 CI engine (L72) available too. While the L72 was not advertised, there were about 600 “B” body cars built in ’68 with this rare option. As to how many found their way into the SS 427 model, there is no way to know; records with that specificity do not exist. The tachometer in this example shows a 5,500 RPM redline so that’s confirmation that this example housed an L36 motor. Of note though, this Impala has a four-speed manual transmission and it is still installed! A great find as the temptation to sell an engineless Muncie four-speed gearbox has probably been pretty strong.

The interior of this Impala confirms that this example was a Z24 without the Z03 option added. Why? A bench seat is present. If bucket seats and a center console were desired, the Z03 option had to be selected too. That said, the bench seat/four-speed manual combination is always neat to find because it is unusual. Also found in this Impala is the optional full gauge instrument panel with a tachometer – I wish mine had that, it’s a great addition. OK, so we’ve discussed the good, how about the bad. The floors are falling out and the seats/upholstery are shot. The rust isn’t a surprise, these cars can be rust buckets if domiciled in the right climate and my expensive experience has taught me that the convertibles are even worse. The interior will need a major overhaul. While replacement parts for ’60s vintage Impalas are common, the focus is more on the ’61 to ’67 models; reproduction parts for ’68s are less common – they exist but not like they do for the earlier years.

The ’67 and ’68 SS 427’s both had unique hoods and it’s great to see that this ’68 still has its power-dome hood and chrome cowl grille. These are very hard to find and trade for big $$$ when they turn up. Also unique to this ’68 model are the fender “gills” behind both front wheels – also another hard to find part. The body on this example is rough. I’ve seen a lot worse but this one will need fender and quarter metalwork at the very least. Good to know is that patch panels are available from various sources for this vintage. Also unique to the SS427 model is the engine badge which reads “SS427” instead of just “427”. This Tarrytown, New York produced car was built the first week of October ’67 so it has the early “SS427” badge. Later in the year, that badge was replaced with a “427” badge with a red background (as opposed to a black background). Either badge is hard to find and I have fielded phone calls from restorers asking me if I knew where either could be sourced. Finally of note are the wheel covers. They are Chevrolet P02 “Turbine” style covers and while they are wrong for this SS427, they are a nice find. They were an option on the ’69 Impala as well as Corvettes in at least ’68 and ’69.

So what to do here? This example has potential and while I’m a purist, I recognize how hard it can be to go the complete correct route. While I would really want a 427 replacement engine, preferably a date correct example, they are expensive and hard to find. The flip side is that I have no issue buying parts from NAPA or wherever to get things running. I don’t care if the heater hoses have a “GM” stamp or not (though I won’t use red ones). Any way you look at it, this will be an expensive restoration – expensive just to make it roadworthy but I’m less than objective when it comes to one of these models. In my mind, it’s worth salvation because of what it is, not what it would be worth. What are your thoughts, worth taking on or too much trouble and expense?

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Comments

  1. Will Fox

    Too much gone to properly restore this; just make a nice driveable street rod out of it. The most important part is long gone: the original 427 engine. Without it, this will never be a numbers-matching car, so no need to make this a 100-point trailer queen. As it is, this is just a nice `68 Impala Sport coupe. And that’s about it.

    Like 13
    • Angrymike

      A 427 is easy enough to recreate, a 454 block with the shorter stroke of the 396. I’m not sure if you need a 427 crank or if it’s possible to use the 396 crank, but that’ll give you 427 CI’s !

      Like 4
    • bull

      Oh Contrar!!!

      Installing a #’s matching 427 is EASY!

      HAMMER TIME!

      Original engine no so much!

      Like 2
  2. doone

    I owned 2 of these 68 ss427 90hp impalas both new in 68. The first one was stolen in the bronx, the second was de-badged by my dad so it wouldn’t be stolen. Wish I had saved the grille badge, probably worth 500 bucks now. Both were built at the Tarrytown assembly plant. I had ordered it with turbo hydramatic and the 2.73 rear end. It actually got 25 hiway mpg ’cause of that.
    Dual exhaust but removed the resonators and put bologna pipes on instead. Wasn’t fast off the line but pushed you into the seat when you floored it on the hiway. Had the needle buried a couple of times, very smooth ride at speed.

    Like 6
    • Cadmanls Member

      And it’s an A/C car!

      Like 5
    • Paolo

      I continue to hear lots of stories about great cars stolen in the Bronx in the ’60s and ’70s. I lived up in Westchester at that time. The Bronx was another world altogether. And this is why we can’t have nice things.

      Like 4
    • BB

      This is so me, I would never restore a challenger or cuda and spend 6 figures plus doing that. For these big block Chevys all day long oh ya!

      Like 4
      • Burger

        For me, make it the car you RARELY see, be it a Chevy or a Mopar or …. Everyday Chevy’s are as boring as everyday Cudas, or …. The really weird cars are cool because you almost never see them. This is one of those cars. 10,000 #@! Impalas, ….. what, … maybe a couple dozen of these, total ?

        Like 2
  3. doone

    I owned 2 of these 68 ss427 390hp impalas both new in 68. The first one was stolen in the bronx, the second was de-badged by my dad so it wouldn’t be stolen. Wish I had saved the grille badge, probably worth 500 bucks now. Both were built at the Tarrytown assembly plant. I had ordered it with turbo hydramatic and the 2.73 rear end. It actually got 25 hiway mpg ’cause of that.
    Dual exhaust but removed the resonators and put bologna pipes on instead. Wasn’t fast off the line but pushed you into the seat when you floored it on the hiway. Had the needle buried a couple of times, very smooth ride at speed.

  4. XMA0891

    My dad was still driving his red-over-black ’68 Impala in the fall of ’82. It was a three-on-the-tree, with a V-8 that I don’t remember the exact displacement of; but it was big. I think of that car often, as he was selling it when I was up for my first car, and I remember not wanting it. I wanted The One That Got Away – mom’s ’67 Chevelle.

    Like 2
  5. Michael Leyshon Member

    I believe Jim O’Donnell wants us BF readers to try to talk him out of his next SS427 project ! I won’t… He’s the perfect candidate to give her the new lease on life she deserves. Go for it !

    Like 6
    • Jim ODonnell

      Hmmmmmm……

      Like 4
  6. 19sixty5 Member

    I grew up just north of Chicago, and worked in a gas station starting around 14 years old. We used to service a local police car, it was a 68 Biscayne with a 427. The entire village (pretty exclusive area) is only about 160 households, and the speed limit in the town is 20, except one street is 15 mph! 0.45 square miles. But, they used to enforce the speed limit on the westbound lanes of a 4 lane highway, the 427 came in handy. I think the speed limit dropped about 15 mph, but they got their fair share of income from speeding tickets. Back to the car… I was 16 in 68, and after servicing, you had to take it out for a road test, that thing had some serious grunt to it!

    Like 6
  7. geezerglide85

    I worked in a gas station in ’74-’76, and a retired school teacher came in with her new car her nephew gave to her. Red 1968 SS427 Impala, but someone yanked the 427 and turbo and replaced it with a 283 and powerglide. It had the bucket seats and console. Could this have been an original Z24 with a Z03 package? Back then it was just a car nobody wanted.

    Like 2
  8. poseur Member

    definitely needs to be saved and returned to glory.
    what a monster!

    Like 2
  9. KARL

    Why does everyone make a big deal about a car like this that doesn’t have its original motor; so its not worth much ? Granted , if it was the original running motor it would be a huge plus, but I keep thinking that with the tens of thousands of old cars that have been restored ,how many still have the original engine ? And if its not a Concours type restoration ,does it really make a difference ? How many popular cars ,like Model As , VW Beetles, etc had their engines swapped out when they were still relatively new ? Some older cars may have had several engine swaps over the years . Maybe a warranty replacement was done on a car , does that ruin its value ? What if this car came with its original engine, but it was junk , does that make the car more desirable ? To me , if you’re doing a restoration on a car, nearly everything is going to be redone , so even if a block is original to the car, nearly every other part in it is going to be replaced. To me, as long as a car has the engine size it was supposed to have when new , I’m ok with it. If I see a nice old car at a show, I appreciate it for what it is, and what work (if any) was done to it .

    Like 9
    • Jack M.

      Right on KARL, even original engine size doesn’t bother me. I would run a 540 cubic inch stroker and pass it off as a 427!

      Like 6
  10. Burger

    Why are we calling this car an Impala ? NOWHERE does it say “Impala” on them. With totally different trim and equipment, this is an much a Biscayne as it is an Impala. In the day, they were simply “SS427”. You could always tell the rookie because he’d toss in the “I-word” when referring to these.

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnell

      Burger:

      That matter is referenced in the second paragraph.

      Chevrolet’s official sales documentation from the time referred to this car as an Impala with SS427 equipment.

      Thx.

      Like 2
  11. Roy Blankenship

    In 1968, my first job was as a car jockey at a Chevy dealership. Sometimes cars in for service would have to go the long way around the block before they were parked. One was a red SS427 with a Turbo, the guy had a Sun tach on the column. I nailed it, it smashed me into the seat and shifted at exactly 5K. An SS 396 Camaro with a Turbo shifted at 5500. The scariest thing that I drove was a ’62 FI Corvette, I nailed it and it scared me so bad I could barely get my foot off the gas, I am 6’4″ and barely fit into the thing as it was. I got the thing slowed down and a cop was pulling out of the street I needed to turn into, man, he gave me the bad eye, he HAD to have heard that car winding up. I am with KARL, this SS427 is a rare car, 4 speed and AC? Definitely a nice departure from the zillions of Camaros we see….

    Like 4
  12. George Mattar

    Truth be told, most 427s blew up back in the day. Wish this car had the rare hideaway headlamp option.

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