475HP! 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

Anyone who drove a new Chevelle SS 396 off the showroom floor in 1968 knew that they were behind the wheel of a potent muscle car. Those same people probably had no idea just how desirable these cars would become with each passing year. With 375hp on tap in its ultimate form, this was a vehicle that demanded respect. Our feature car doesn’t have that sort of power anymore. The owner has boosted its performance to the point where the big block is churning out a tire-melting 475hp. Now that he has completed all of the hard work, it is time for someone new to reap the benefits. That means that the Chevelle, which is located in Carmel, Indiana, has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. All someone needs to do is hand the owner $59,900, and they can be driving away in a classic whose performance should match its good looks. Barn Finder Pat L’s radar has been working overtime to spot this one for us, so thank you so much for that, Pat.

It appears that the owner has put this Island Teal Chevelle through a cosmetic restoration that has left it looking stunning. The paint shines beautifully, while the White vinyl top appears to be faultless. The panels are perfectly straight, the gaps are tight and consistent, and when you look at the quality of the fit and finish of every aspect of the exterior, it is well above the standard that Chevrolet achieved when the car was new. Judging by the state of the trim and chrome, I suspect that every piece has either been reconditioned or replaced because it is as spotless as the rest of the exterior. The same appears to be true of the glass, so taken on face value, this Chevelle is visually stunning. However, it is about more than good looks because photos of the underside reveal floors and a frame that are completely rust-free. The owner states that the SS has been kept in a climate-controlled garage since the restoration work was completed and has never seen rain. The Rally wheels wear Mickey Thompson racing slicks, and this provides a subtle indication that the Chevelle might be more than just a pretty face.

This Chevelle is a genuine SS 396, and in its prime, the big block under the hood would have been churning out 375hp. That was enough to punch the car through the ¼ mile in 14.4 seconds, and that would have satisfied most owners. However, it apparently wasn’t enough for this one because he has ditched the original big block, and a 496ci monster has taken its place. With such niceties as aluminum heads, 3″ custom headers, and a 3″ dual straight pipe exhaust, the big block is producing a mind-numbing 475hp. There’s no point in having a motor that delivers those numbers if it can’t get the power to the pavement. The owner bolted a 4-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter to the back of the V8, and this feeds all of that mumbo to a 12-bolt 4.10 Posi rear end. It seems that he looked at this build as a complete package because not only does the SS feature power steering, but the braking system has been upgraded to 4-wheel power disc brakes. The owner doesn’t provide any information on how well the Chevelle runs or drives, but it is not bound to disappoint if it manages to mimic its presentation. The listing shows an odometer reading of 8,900 miles, and this is what the SS has accumulated since the restoration was completed.

When I began to work my way through the photos included in this owner’s listing, I was waiting for that almost inevitable moment where one of them revealed something disappointing. When I got to the interior shots, I found myself still waiting because it is in as-new condition. Having only covered 8,900 miles since he completed the restoration, this interior hasn’t had time to get tired, worn, or dirty. Every upholstered surface is perfect, as are the dash, pad, and carpet. Slipping behind the wheel would be like stepping back in time. The only things that would indicate that this car is not 100% original would be the Hurst shifter and the aftermarket tach. It looks like there might be some additional gauges under the dash to monitor the health of the monster under the hood. However, the owner does provide one nod to creature comforts because he had a vintage air conditioning system installed during the restoration process.

There’s no substitute for cubic inches. There’s nothing as great as a big V8. You can never have enough power. Pick your quote because they’re all relevant to this 1968 Chevelle SS 396. There will be enthusiasts who will decry the owner’s changes to this classic, and I understand from where they are coming. I usually prefer 100% originality in a classic of this kind, but I also respect a carefully considered custom build. That’s what this SS would seem to represent. When you look at the standard of fit and finish of every aspect of this vehicle, it would easily be worth at least the asking price if it were a numbers-matching classic. Determining the value of a modified classic is far more difficult because they are generally worth what someone is willing to pay for them. However, when I look at the quality of workmanship on this Chevelle, one thought passes through my mind; It has only been on the market for a day. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sold within a week. That’s how good I think this one is.


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  1. jnard90 Member

    Beautiful, just beautiful. I would sure love to give this beast a home if I had the time right now. Worth the big dollars it will command.

    Like 14
  2. Jack M.

    Just requires the correct rectangular factory exhaust tips to look perfect.

    Like 9
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Not exactly rectangular, as there weren’t any corners. More like an oval shape, flat on the long and short sections. Kind of like the outline of the Indy 500 racetrack?

      And the opening has a slightly tapered edge as well, IIRC.

      Like 9
      • Helmo Member

        You’re thinking of the ‘69 Chevelle exhaust tips. The ‘68 had simple round tail pipes.

  3. Mark C

    Just gorgeous. The $60k ask isn’t extreme when you see how much is in this build.

    Like 7
  4. Walter

    I am of 2 minds when it comes to these kinds of builds. I can distinctly remember being all about bigger carbs, ported heads, headers, and etc. Fact is that right now we live in a golden age of horsepower. I have a 2018 Mustang GT. 460hp running through a 10 speed transmission that never seems to run out of gears. Idles beautifully and gets 25mpg. If that’s not enough 500+HP is easily obtained.
    So? I guess I’m not as crazy about old school race tuned engines that can barely idle and r in accessories. Get that 396 back to factory tune and I’m good.
    OTOH, I’m fine with restomodding. If that car had modern brakes and steering I’d be more into it.
    Just my.02

    Like 7
    • Steve R

      With improved cam and cylinder head technology any readily available, off the shelf stroker kits, it’s easy for someone knowledgeable to get 600+ horsepower out of a pump gas friendly big block that doesn’t need more than a mid-3.xx gear ratio. There are multiple options, both new and old, that allow street engines to make more power than all but the most radicle race did 30-40 years ago.

      Steve R

      Like 8
    • Jay Bree

      Well, a factory modern performance car is great, but it’s not the wild snarling beast that a 70’s era 8 liter powered car is.

      Yes it gets 25 MPH
      Yes it purrs like a kitten at idle
      Yes it has air and good handling and braking
      Yes it has 10 speeds

      …and it’s nowhere near the experience of rocking a big block Chevelle through the gears.

      Like 17
  5. Dave

    Gosh they just don’t get nicer than this 68.

    Like 5
    • Ike Onick

      I prefer the 1969 design. Something about that front view really sets the entire design apart from the earlier version. And has there EVER been a better wheel design than the Rally Wheel of any vintage? Argent Silver painted wheel, trim ring, center cap. Less is more!

      Like 5
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Same. And the rear lights are so much better on the ’69 too.

        Like 2
    • ADM

      I agree.

      Like 1
  6. JoeNYWF64

    Can’t tell if it has the optional factory ribbon/rolling tach behind the aftmkt one –
    are those very accurate/ez to read?

    • Gene

      This add makes me upset.. This is my old car and all that this person did was swap out the 350 horse 396 and the m30 4spd out and threw this mess in it. Added ac and disc’s. The body and interior were untouched by me or the guy I sold this too. Yes it has the roller tach. Well it did when I gave him a brand new instrument panel that you had to cut the opening out to reinstall the drum tach…

      Like 4
      • Gene

        M20.. I have fat fingers..

        Like 1
      • Gary James Lehman

        So why are you upset??

  7. Jack Member

    I wonder what transmission he put in and guess it is not a M-22 which may be hard to find now. For 60K a person should have the experience of driving a rock-crusher through the gears.

    I agree with Jay Bree that the new cars might be great, but not what we used to experience in the past and what many still prefer.

    Like 4
    • robert semrad

      Not to mention the tens of thousands the new cars are “for sure” going to lose in just a few short years. I have guys in new mustangs pull up next to me and ask if I want to sell my 70 Torino GT…..I look at them like they’re on drugs. Why would push me into something so foolish? Every year my Torino goes up in dollar value…..not so with the new Mustangs.

      Like 1
  8. Mark

    I just rode in my brother in laws 2021 ZL1 Camaro. The 650 horsepower cars of today don’t have the same stump pulling feel of an old big block. The ZL1 was fast but it don’t crush the back of your head into the seat, kind of disappointing.

    Like 4
  9. Sam Shive

    It has a Florida Tag. That car has seen Plenty Of Rain.

    • Gene

      It only saw rain a few times when it was here in jersey. The original trans was and M20 and original black top with no stripes. I added the white top and the stripes. As you can see when I put the stripes on the rear quarter panel I didn’t angle them correctly. The original style exhaust was turned down just before the rear bumper not this style that would be more 69 and after with the oval tips which 68s didn’t have.

      Like 3
  10. Kevin

    Really nice car,but if we’re going to nit pick,then of course that pistol grip shifter doesn’t belong in a Chevy!…lol,obviously this guy made it the way he wanted it,its not an all original concours show car.

    Like 1
  11. ADM

    An L78 was rebuilt to factory specs, and it made exactly 425 bhp, at 5600 rpm. The only difference was roller rockers, which made up for the slightly thicker head gaskets.

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