Real Deal? 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

The performance car landscape had begun to change in the early 1970s. Insurance companies had made them more expensive to protect, and thus own. Then the EPA got involved, leading to the detuning process of engines for lower emissions output. So, it’s not surprising that muscle cars like the Chevelle Super Sport were no longer series of their own, but options on mainstream products. This 1971 Chevelle SS 396 looks like the real thing (these automobiles are often cloned), but no mention is made either way. Offered by a dealer in Winter Garden, Florida, this Fathom Blue beauty is available here on eBay where the bidding stands at $27,300. But how high did the seller set the reserve?

Unless you have the original window sticker or a build sheet, it’s hard to tell if an early 1970s Chevelle SS is the real thing. Of the 196,190 Malibu Sport Coupes built in 1971, 19,293 had the RPO Z15 option, aka Super Sport. And, of those, 9,502 came with 454 cubic inch engines. That leaves the other 9,791 to have not only the 402 cubic inch V8 (still marketed as the 396), but also 350’s, as well. The 1971-72 Chevelles are easily identifiable from the earlier models due to the switch to single headlights from duals in the facelift the cars received.

Fathom Blue is a beautiful color, and this car wears an older repaint well, assuming it’s the Chevelle’s original color. No mention is made of any rust, past or present, and the sheet metal looks squeaky clean. The trunk floor, for example, looks like the day it left the plant in Baltimore. The interior is equally nice except you’ll notice no radio in the new dashboard (replaced by an aftermarket stereo inside the glove box). The upholstery is new, too. “Before” photos would be nice to help determine how much of the word “restored” applies to this car.

Under the hood resides a 402/396 engine and 4-speed manual transmission. No indication if either of them is original to the car, as well as the 12-bolt posi-traction rear end. Headers have been added to help make the car sound even tougher than it already is. The seller refers to this as a “very reliable muscle car that you can drive and enjoy” which leads me to believe it’s not a factory SS. As such, you might not feel as inclined to treat it with kid gloves.


  1. RoughDiamond Member

    I was thinking this one was featured on here before, but guess not. This ’71 Chevelle “SS” or not mystery needs the expertise decoding of one Patrick Glenn Nichols.

    Like 10
  2. KC John Member

    I gotta say that I really like the ride height. I’m old enough to remember when this was ” the look “. Sorta miss it. Just saying

    Like 23
    • notinuse

      Yep, that car looks like it’s ready to leap off the line! Beautiful coupe.

      Like 2
  3. Will Fox

    Why these were marketed as a 396, I don’t know. Technically it’s a 402. either way I’d be suspicious.

    • DW

      Marketing purposes

      Like 1
    • Marty Parker

      My question would be, why did GM decide it needed the extra 6 CI’s anyway?

      • 19sixty5 Member

        Emissions standards were slightly less stringent for larger displacement (over 400 CID) engines. The other thought was the possibility of core shift in the Tonawanda engine plant that could be addressed with a slight .030 overbore.

        Like 1
  4. 19sixty5 Member

    Chevrolet had great brand recognition (sales) with the SS 396 name. Why risk things by changing it to SS 402? This car is a vast improvement over the red alleged SS 454 from last week. That one sold for over $38k, and it was questionable. This one from general appearances seems to be authentic. The seller acknowledges the dash swap, and with the exception of some additional paint around the smaller bezels, appears OEM. Replace the front inner fenders, they have a zillion holes in them, install new splash shields with the correct wire staples, a general under-hood detailing and you have a decent car. It will be interesting to see what this one sells for.

    Like 6
  5. BigBlocksRock

    For 27k I want a heater.

    Like 3
  6. Greg Gustafson

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen “Lakewood” style traction bars an a car with coil springs, as the rear axle can’t “wrap-up” like an axle mounted to leaf springs. (Unless the control arm bushings are gone.)

    Like 3
    • Jose Rovirosa

      I believe some early Fox Mustangs came factory-equipped with that style of traction bar.

    • Chris In Australia

      First thing I saw too.

  7. RMac

    Decent car not crazy about the exhaust exiting under it rather out back with stock rectangular tips and the wires hanging under the dash but that engine and trans could make me forget those

  8. RMac

    Oops my bad in the eBay ad I can see the exhaust coming out the back with stock turn down pipes

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