Parked In ’78: 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

Some project cars will only take a few weekends of tinkering in the shed before they are ready to be driven and enjoyed. For others, the process is a little more, shall we say, involved. That is certainly the case with this 1969 Chevelle SS 396. As you look at this classic you will realize that the only way to tackle it would be to dismantle the vehicle down to the last nut and bolt and work your way forward from there. If you feel that you are up for the challenge, then you will find the Chevelle located in Ringgold, Georgia, and listed for sale here on eBay. This has the potential to be one of the cheapest SS 396 project cars that we have seen here at Barn Finds for quite a long time because the bidding has only reached a paltry $2,901, and the reserve has been met.

The owner is pretty candid about the fact that this is a Chevelle that has rust. However, he does say that the frame is solid. Beyond that, the next owner is going to be working overtime with the grinder and welder, because there is a lot of rust to remove, and a lot of steel to be replaced. The floors are toast, and this photo of the trunk pan perfectly illustrates the extent of the problem. Add in rust in both rear quarter panels, the drop-offs, and what looks like rust in the lower sections of the doors, and that represents a fair amount of work. Having said that, I’m pretty sure that we’ve all seen worse because the steel under the vinyl top and around the rear window looks like it might be solid, while the same appears to be true of the rockers. There’s no point discussing the state of the Frost Green paint, because at this point that is quite irrelevant when you consider the state of the car’s panels. The Chevelle is fitted with tinted glass all around, and while the majority of it looks like it might be okay, it appears that somebody has chosen to exit the vehicle on the passenger side via the windshield. It also appears that the next owner will find themselves on first-name basis with the supplier of trim and chrome because many of these items are missing.

Given the general state of the rest of the car, it should be no surprise to learn that the interior will also require a complete restoration. It does appear as though it is complete, so items like the seat frames will be able to be utilized, and the gauges look like they also might be in reasonable order. All of the correct badges are present, but a full trim kit is going to be required. However, if everything is returned to its original specifications, the Dark Green interior trim combined with Frost Green paint and Green vinyl top will make this a very attractive vehicle.

There is a sliver of good news when we open the hood because the original 396ci V8, 3-speed Hydramatic transmission, and the 12-bolt rear end are all present. This combination would have made this a pretty potent piece of machinery when it was new, but getting it all running again is going to take a lot more than 5 minutes. It isn’t clear whether the missing ancillary items like the original carburetor are present, but that could be the tip of the mechanical iceberg. The owner says that the engine is stuck, and it isn’t clear whether this is a case of cause-and-effect. In other words, has the 396 become stuck because it has been sitting since 1978, or was the car parked in 1978 because of some fundamental issues that caused the engine to seize. Regardless of which scenario is correct, it would seem that a full mechanical rebuild is also going to be on the agenda for the Chevelle.

There is no doubt that as a restoration project, this 1969 Chevelle SS 396 is going to be a major undertaking. There is not one single aspect of this classic that is going to be able to escape attention, and it is going to potentially consume a fair amount of both time and cash. Prices for nice examples will generally start at around the $35,000 mark, but a pristine original example can sell for $60,000 or more. This one is going to require a mountain of work to be in the sort of condition to achieve even that lower figure, so it will have to be a pretty dedicated individual who takes this one on. Does that sound like it could be you?


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  1. Rusty


    Like 6
    • Kevin Kendall

      Could be the car my cousin centered a telephone pole with trying to outrun a Tn.state trooper🤔

      Like 7
  2. sir mike

    Driven for 8yrs and parked where for the last 42yrs???Needs almost every body panel.Money pit.

    Like 11
  3. Classic Steel

    Well this 🐕 says ruff 👀

    I get the engine is stick and your local machine shop is ready to assist starting at five large. The carb and intake add 4 Benjamin’s.

    Now for the body……,
    Get another job at a body shop for the possible discount, take your retirement account …,then realize you could of bought a better car cheaper 😮
    You can sell the house after the wife leaves unhappy but you’ve got a chevelle 👍👀

    Like 12
  4. TimM

    wow sure is a mess for a car that was only driven for nine years!! Where did he work at a salt factory or the bottom or the ocean????

    Like 5
  5. Arthell64 Member

    It seems kind of rare to find a SS 396 Chevelle with the original engine and transmission. We get a lot of rain in Georgia I would imagine the trunk leaked water causing the rust damage. It seems common for old muscle cars like chevelles and chargers to need quarters and floor pans. I have to admit I am a sucker for any SS 396 Chevelle.

    Like 2
  6. DayDreamBeliever Member

    When I saw the color, I thought… maybe? But no, not the one I let the Insurance company buy after I was too young and stupid and… Still makes me wince more than 45 years later.

    But yea, same color scheme and drivetrain (except the 12 bolt was posi) but for buckets and a console-mounted shifter. Bought as a project with a blown motor, only three years old.

    This car? Oh my goodness… what a rusty, previously wrecked example, dug out of a field where it had been left to rot. Bidding to $3350, so someone wants it. I don’t. Better to sell off stuff or raid the retirement account and buy a nice, finished one. At my age, I’d have to give up everything else I enjoy doing to finish it before I check out!

    Like 2
  7. Steve

    Aww don’t be so hard on this poor forlorn classic. If it were a Porsche or Mopar some would be chomping at the bit to get this!

    Like 3
  8. John Oliveri

    The car is toast

    Like 3
    • Arthell64 Member

      This chevelle is far from toast. If the rockers are good which they look ok installing a full floor and trunk pan is not that big of deal. After seeing on BF what rusted muscle cars bring there is no such thing as toast. But I do like SS 396 chevelles

      Like 4
  9. Jack Member

    It’s a shame this car is in this condition. I was considering a new car on the dealer’s lot that had the same color and options in 1969 and I could have got it for about $3700. I always thought the color scheme was attractive and you saw a lot like this in 1969 with the vinyl top. The price and fact I wanted a four speed caused me to not buy it.

    • Arthell64 Member

      I read somewhere that frost green was the most popular color on 69 chevelles.

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