Stunning Survivor: 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396

Every now and then here at Barn Finds, a car will appear on our desks that makes us take a deep breath. This 1968 Chevelle SS 396 is just such a car. This is because what you are looking at here isn’t a nicely restored classic, but is actually an original survivor. The owner goes to the trouble of identifying the vehicle’s flaws, and it’s a good thing that he does. This is because those flaws are so insignificant that you will struggle to spot them in the supplied photos. The time has come for this beauty to find a new home, which is why it has been listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and while bidding has now reached $19,400, it is no real surprise that the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Butternut Yellow Chevelle certainly presents nicely, with the paint holding a consistent shine. It does have a few stone chips present in some of the more prone areas such as the front valance, but when you consider that we are talking about a 52-year-old car that is wearing virtually all of its original paint, that has to be considered to be impressive. There is one small crease on the driver’s side rear quarter panel, but as this follows the body-line, it is very hard to spot. The black vinyl top provides a nice contrast, but it might not be original. The owner can’t be completely sure, but he does suspect that it has been replaced at some point. What hasn’t been replaced is any of the steel in the body. What you see here is a car that has never had any accident damage or rust repairs. All of the correct factory stamps are present, and there is certainly no rust visible in any of the more prone lower extremities. The owner also supplies some clear photos of the vehicle’s underside, and all that I can say is that if you were in a position where you were forced to eat your supper off a car floor, then you could do a whole lot worse than this one! It is spotlessly clean, and there isn’t a sign of rust anywhere. The trim and chrome appear to be in good condition, and not only does the Chevelle feature all of its original glass, but its condition seems to be just as impressive as everything else that we’ve looked at so far.

I really can’t help but admire the owner of the Chevelle, because he seems to be more than willing to mention flaws and faults that simply don’t show in any of the photos. Take the interior, for example. He makes mention of some minor cracking on the front seat, but spotting this fault in the photos is a virtual impossibility. He believes that the front carpet might have been replaced at some point, but the rest of the interior is claimed to be original. If this is true, then its condition is quite extraordinary. There is no significant wear on the front seat, and the tightness of the seat covers indicates that they aren’t stretched and the foam hasn’t compacted. The dash is flawless, while the door trims and headliner are in a similar state. RPO Code N34 brought the walnut-grained wheel to the interior, and while this one looks nice, it does have a couple of cracks in the rim. That is going to beg the question; Should it be left as it is, should it be restored, or should it be replaced? Complete wheels are available for around the $370 mark, but if I were to buy this car, I probably wouldn’t go that way. Restoration would also be tempting, but I am leaning heavily towards leaving it untouched and simply fitting a wrap to prevent further deterioration. Beyond the wheel, the other obvious optional equipment fitted to the Chevelle seems to consist of an AM radio.

For potential buyers of this Chevelle, the engine bay crammed with a 396ci Big Block, pumping out 325hp. In this case, this is backed by a 3-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission, while power steering and power front disc brakes are also included. That’s an impressive combination and means that this is a car that is no slouch in the performance stakes. How does a 15.4-second ¼ mile ET and a top speed of 134mph sound? Personally, I think that it sounds pretty good. What also sounds good is the fact that this Chevelle is a full numbers-matching car. The usual consumables such as brake pads, belts, plug wires, hoses, and suspension bushes have been replaced, but everything down to the carburetor and the rear brake drums are said to be original. The engine bay has been nicely detailed, but this isn’t just about looks. The owner says that the SS runs and drives flawlessly, and is both quiet and smooth.

The desirability of the Chevelle SS 396 is never in doubt, but while beautifully restored examples are one thing, well preserved original survivors are another thing entirely. That is what we have been told that this car represents, and if its condition is as nice as the photos and listing tend to indicate, then it is a car that will be worth some reasonable money. Values for the ’68 SS 396 have flattened a bit over the past 12-months or so, but at least they haven’t shown any signs of decreasing. As an original, rust-free survivor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it easily surpass $40,000. However, if the right two potential buyers come along, a figure substantially higher is not beyond the realm of possibility. Time will tell, and this could be a listing that is well worth watching. Alternatively, the idea of bidding also looks pretty tempting.

WANT ADS

WANTED 1973 Dodge Challenger Wanted – 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye or 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS (must be reasonably rust free) Contact

WANTED 1970 or 1071 Ford Torino squire wagon Looking for nice car ready to drive. Might consider rust free car to build. Contact

WANTED 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 my wife’s first car, red with red interior would be ideal, any locale Contact

WANTED 1973-1974 Chevrolet Corvette Looking for a 4-speed convertible with A/C in the Los Angeles, CA area Contact

WANTED 1974 Pontiac Grandville Need a new windshield for Granville convertible w antenna. Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    The term “Survivor” has, as others who frequent this forum have said, is significantly overused and misapplied.

    As it is here, IMO. Again, In My opinion.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is a positively beautiful car. Love it.

    But there are a significant number of components on this Chevelle which have been completely redone/refurbished/refinished. This car has already been selectively restored. Just because the body wears “virtually all of its original paint” does not make it equivalent to a car which has only been treated to brakes, oil changes, tires, and perhaps shock absorbers or exhaust pipes.

    One look at the underside, and I felt that the term applied was out of place. Chevrolet never made it that way. It has “survived” the ravages of 52 years, yes, but it has had a lot of help and significant renovation along the way.

    Also, I fail to understand why anyone would ever consider undertaking a “restoration” of this car. The value here is in the fact that limited work has been done, and there would be virtually zero return on spending 1000’s of dollars to make it perfect. This is not a L78 4-speed hotrod. Fast and fun, yes. Top of the line, no.

    One more comment, because I know I won’t be able to edit (first post never allows that, for some reason) I owned a ’69SS with buckets and a TH400 console shift for a couple of years in the early 70’s. Did an engine for it, because the prior owner blew it up. I wish I had it now, this one leaves me wistful. This car won’t bring the $bids predicted, Adam. I don’t think so, anyway. I have been wrong before…. Will be again, many times.

    Like 22
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Bid to $25,100, not sold, RNM.

      Relisted here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/143609748595

      With a BIN of $34,900 and a “Make Offer” button. So the market says Mid 20’s, and the seller now says Mid 30’s. I wonder what the seller’s original expectation was…. Mid 40’s?

      Again, cool car, but far from the wide-market or top-of-the-line versions which bring the big money.

  2. dirtyharry

    I am a fan of virtually everything that wears “396” on it. This is no exception. I love an original appearing hot rod from this period. I showed it to my adult son, he rolled his eyes and commented that it will look great, parked with me at the retirement community. I think he is right.

    Like 12
  3. doone

    Surprising to see a bench seat and a tree shifter on an SS.

    • Arthell64 Member

      Bench seat with a column shift was common on the SS chevelles.

      Like 17
    • Pat

      Agreed, super sport always said bucket seats and floor shifter to me. Bench and column shifter said pop pop car….

      Like 3
      • triumph1954

        Really? Bench and column shifter said pop pop car ?

        Like 1
      • Arthell64 Member

        Bench seat and auto on the column says all business to me. Original buyer may have been a ladies man and have didn’t want a shifter in the way. My favorite chevelle is a 70 ls6 with auto on the column

        Like 4
      • Raymond Hurst Member

        The lowest mileage 70 LS6 in America (a red car with thirty miles on it) is a bench seat, automatic on the column car. A friend of mine ordered new, a 69 L78 convertible, with bench seat automatic on the column. Back in the day, there were quite a few of those ”pop pop” cars. There were also quite a few 69 SS cars that came with a 3 speed in the floor. That bench seat with column shift will run just as good as bucket seat, floor shift. ANY SS is an SS. The cheaper looking and the less options the better. Us Chevelle guys do not cull any SS.

        Like 4
  4. Troy s

    Low option SS396 Chevelle, wonder if it was dealer stock when first sold. I really would like to see a picture of it from, say…1979 or around then. Just curious really if it looked practically brand new or…..
    It’s a nice ride for sure but not exactly the fire breathing street beater of the bunch.

    Like 3
    • Arthell64 Member

      I have owned several chevelle ss and besides maybe a rear antenna or bumper guards they were mostly low optioned.

      Like 2
  5. Joe Haska

    Adam, I am totally on your side with this one, but I am no expert on these cars, know just enough to be dangerous. I think if it approaches 40 K, it would be a good buy. Yes, it is not well optioned, but it is a 396. I also, like cars like the Ford P/U before this and the condition of this car, it is nice enough, that it wouldn’t be cost effective to do a frame off restoration. Done nicely it could look like a frame off.

    Like 1
  6. Raymond Hurst Member

    NOTHING to complain about on this car. Not enough changed or wrong to even mention. One week and very little money would correct anything not right. You sure couldn’t build one like this for 30 or 40 thousand.

    Like 3
  7. LarryS Member

    Regarding the cracking steering wheel and the following quote: “Restoration would also be tempting, but I am leaning heavily towards leaving it untouched and simply fitting a wrap to prevent further deterioration.” I have no inherent problem with a wrap, but it does bring up one of my pet issues with the preservation of older cars. I see many cars from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s (and other decades) that have had their steering wheels replaced with smaller diameter, thicker-rimmed ones. For me, though, one of the things that most contributes to the the feel of older cars is the interface between me and the car and the steering wheel is a (or the) major contributor to that feeling. I understand that that can be said of many other components of an older car, the seats, the handling feel, the engine, etc. But if you plop yourself into the seat of a car from this SS’s era with your eyes closed and grip the steering wheel it will immediately tell you that you are not in a car of recent vintage.

    I dismount my soapbox (which, of course, would probably be from an even earlier era were I to be sitting, rather than standing, on it).

    Like 4
    • RAY

      This car has the wrongs steering wheel for a ’68 Chevelle SS.

      • Raymond Hurst Member

        What is wrong with the steering wheel that it is not right? Just curious.

  8. bikefixr

    No point in leaving it alone..it’s been molested. In typical Dealer-speak…nice vinyl top…but. Nice sheet metal…but. Nice carpets…but. Rattle-can underhood detail, underside been painted…I mean, survivor? No way. Cared for, nice clean car but stop with the price-jacking superlatives and hyperbole. About the only thing missing is the usual nonsense history about the production line and GM crap we already know. On a plus note, it has it’s original manifolds and air cleaner case and hot air assembly. That’s a $1500 bonus that’s usually missing. AND a great color combo.

    Like 5
  9. Superdessucke

    Nice vehicle but definitely not a survivor as I would define it. Not that restored cars are necessarily bad but I’d worry about where the parts were made. Try calling Year One and ask them where their parts were made. LOL! So I would be afraid of getting something with more Chinese part content than a Wuling Hongguang.

    Like 5
  10. TimM

    It’s a really nice car and by all means wouldn’t mind owning it but as previously stated by other members before me a column shift bench seat automatic will not bring the price of a bucket seat 4 speed!! Great car just not the hot rod car people expect with an SS!!!

    Like 1
  11. Charles Turner

    I’d love to have it…….325 hp 396 is still pretty cool to me. Same reason I wouldn’t balk at owning a 402 ’70 Monte Carlo instead of the SS 454😇

Leave a Reply to Charles Turner Cancel reply

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.