Well-Preserved 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

If you found a desirable classic that had been hidden away in a North Dakota barn for thirty-five years, would you restore it, or would you do your best to preserve it as an original survivor? That was the quandary that faced the owner of this 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396. He decided that preservation was the best approach, and there’s no doubt that it turns heads as it currently stands. The buyer will need to determine whether they need to leave well enough alone or if they find the idea of a faithful restoration too tempting to resist. Located in Gerrardstown, West Virginia, you will find the Chevelle listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $29,000, but he leaves the option available for interested parties to make an offer.

There’s a bit to unpack with this Matador Red Chevelle. When the owner located it, it had been parked in a barn for thirty-five years. The car was generally solid, but the floors and trunk pan were rotted. He dispatched the body to have these areas professionally replaced but has left the remaining panels and trim untouched. The car is now structurally sound and could be used as it stands. There’s little doubt that the temptation would be there to treat it to a cosmetic refresh, but that’s a path that the seller has resisted. While the paint has peeled away in numerous spots around the vehicle and the exposed metal has developed surface corrosion, there is little in the way of penetrating rust. The lower rear quarter panels and rockers, both rust-prone areas, show few signs of problems. The buyer may choose to treat the corrosion and apply a clear coat to preserve the car as it stands. However, if they decided to treat the vehicle to a repaint, I would completely understand that approach. The tinted glass is in good order, as is most of the trim. Some pieces may require restoration or replacement, but the overall condition is in keeping with the rest of the exterior. The car rolls on its original steel wheels, but the owner has recently fitted redline tires.

For purists, the news remains positive when we delve below the surface of this Chevelle. It is a full numbers-matching survivor with a 396ci V8 that produces 325hp. That power finds its way to the 12-bolt rear end via a four-speed manual transmission. The original owner also ordered this SS with power steering and power brakes. This is a potent package that should storm the ¼ mile in 14.9 seconds. When the seller located this Chevelle, it hadn’t run for decades. He coaxed that big-block back to life but found it ran on only seven cylinders. He believed that the engine had never been out of the car and was keen to continue that trend. He pulled one cylinder head and found a burned valve. He had this replaced and reinstalled the cylinder head. The result was that this motor now runs sweetly. He has attempted to retain as much of the original componentry as possible during the preservation. He was left with no choice but to replace the fuel tank and sending unit, along with the entire braking system and fuel pump. He treated the original carburetor to a rebuild, along with the distributor and alternator. A previous owner had removed the power steering pump, so he sourced a correct replacement. With all of this hard work completed, this SS now runs and drives perfectly. It is a turnkey proposition ready to be enjoyed by its new owner.

If this Chevelle isn’t already interesting enough, its interior would seem to seal the deal. Labor disputes at the time meant that there was a shortage of interior trim. Therefore, Chevrolet installed interior trim from other vehicles within the General Motors empire. The Trim Tag for this car confirms that it rolled off the production line with Buick Skylark upholstery. It remains original and unrestored and is in a serviceable state. The top of the rear seat was sun-rotted, so the owner has glued vinyl over this to prevent further deterioration. Otherwise, he has performed no significant restoration work. Once again, the buyer will need to choose whether to retain this as-is or undertake a refresh. The owner admits that he dismantled the interior once he got the Chevelle into his workshop. This was a matter of necessity, as a large family of rodents had taken up residence during the thirty-five years in the barn. As you can imagine, the interior smelled pretty awful. He dismantled and cleaned everything, including soaking the seat foam to remove the smell. He reassembled the interior but installed new carpet and a headliner as the originals were beyond repair. The gauges were cleaned and calibrated, and everything works as it should. The only flaw that he notes that the buyer may want to address is a loose original Hurst shifter. He believes this would benefit from a rebuild, but it is the only item that he believes that he would touch if you were to retain the vehicle.

Okay, now it’s decision time. What path would you follow if you were to buy this 1968 Chevelle SS 396? There’s little doubt that fully restored, it would turn heads wherever it goes. However, leaving it untouched allows it to wear its survivor badge proudly. It is a case where there is no right or wrong answer, so it will be interesting to gain your feedback. There are currently 115 people watching the listing, and you have to wonder whether one of them is preparing to hit the BIN button. If they do, it will be interesting to see which approach they take. I hope that the new owner is one of our readers because I would love to be kept in the loop on where this project goes.

  • VIN: 138378k208834
  • Status: Listing pulled by seller


  1. Big_Fun Member

    The auction description is an interesting read; many hours were spent getting this SS396 into the current construction.
    If purchased, the hunt would be on for better driver quality bumpers, and the same with the seats – not perfect, but better. I know a few talented painters that could really work magic on the black painted rocker areas. The trick would be to use a flattening agent in the paint. THAT would be creating patina, but for a good reason.
    I bought a less sexy car, a ’69 Caprice 427 loaded with options, and preformed a similar mission. However, weighing costs, we patched and sealed the floors, new carpet, full exhaust, and made it road worthy. The trunk pan is shot, and the right quarter is toast. Everything works, even some R12 in there to take out some humidity.
    A friend asked me, “How big of a battle would this be?” I replied, Little Big Horn – a tremendous loss – no money, no wife, no equity!” No Caprice, even loaded big blocks, will generate the following of a same year Chevelle or Camaro. Hence, I watched my dollars, and still have fun. I think of it a a very mobile parts car – the sum of the parts are worth more than the holes…I mean, whole.
    This desirable Chevelle, I would say this is called “sympathetic preservation”.

    Like 22
    • ed the welder

      A buddy of mine has a ’69 Caprice 4 door . Highly optioned car that hasn’t seen the road since the mid – eighties . I believe it’s a 350 .Parts for it are unobtainium which is the main reason why hw gave up on the resto and parked it .

      Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Graves Plating in Alabama could do wonders for the chrome pieces.

    Like 3
  3. flmikey

    Already gone…like Big Fun said, the description is an interesting read…the seller did what most of us would do, but I would have gone a little further and break out some sand paper and perhaps some touch up paint and gotten rid of some of the surface rust…another interesting thing in the description was the Buick interior…never heard about some Chevelle’s having those interiors because of issues with suppliers…learn something new every day on this site!

    Like 8
  4. Steve Weiman

    As @Big_Fun noted, no small amount of work and $$ just to get one of these long dormant vehicles into a truly drivable state. Kudos to the seller for actually working through each of the issues to get it there (instead of the typical: running on a gas can with freshly sprayed garden hose across the body still on the trailer.)

    I’ve brought a few of these barn/field finds back to the road over the years. It is no small feat to go through absolutely every system and and return ALL of them to functioning status. Lots of time and money. If you have to price labor nine times out of 10 you would never come out on the plus side. Even free labor, i’ve been very lucky a couple times to break even. It’s been a lot of fun but my old body is saying no to the underdash and underbody stuff these days.

    If this car hit my hands I would have both front seats professionally rebuilt and recovered and hit the road. ANY road, dirt included, anytime weather permitted. These less than pristine unrestored drivers are truly my favorite to actually own and drive……..

    Am I the only one who thinks a clear coat over original paint makes any car look like a Chinese knock off of the real thing??

    Like 13
    • Moe Moe Member

      Well Said.
      Clear Coat over BS is a waste of time and $.
      First wash it’s gonna start to Fail.


    I agree the seller spent a great deal on the work already. The work on a dead car is monumental.

    I am amazed he didn’t install the repop Corvette Rallys. I remember these on the street as simple drivers wearing hubcaps. The next time this car will be seen it will be full of Japanese 1-800 build a car parts looking over restored. Oversize staggered wheels and all.

    That is too bad. Another over restored Chevelle in the works. Sigh.

    Like 2
    • Bick Banter

      Chinese parts these days. But otherwise yes, probably correct.

      • Rtruck

        Hmm, Chinese parts? I wonder if chinese parts would fit better than the ones I got for my 69 poncho from NPD and AMD (which came from Korea and Vietnam).

    • AMCFAN

      I Should clarify I like the hubcaps and the way the seller went out of the way to save and preserve the car just as is and the look of how it really was prior to being parked.

      I remember a kid delivering pizza at a pizza shop in the early 1980’s had a yellow one owner SS396 in yellow. The original owner happened to be a housewife with two kids. I know this because they rode my school bus and saw it for years.

      Somehow the kid at the pizza shop ended up with it. It was at that time just a tired old car. A gut shot beater looking like the above car….. maybe a little worse.

      So not every Chevelle had Corvette wheels. For that I am glad the seller presents an honest car. With his dedication hopefully he will make bank.

      Like 6
  6. Gtoforever

    Interesting, already gone and I just got this email. I can’t help always wondering what this car’s future will be?
    Has it been bought up to be restored and end up at BJ, or will a faithful enthusiast make it roadworthy and enjoy?
    With these finds still coming out , it gives me hope that one of these times I won’t be too late!!!

    Like 2
  7. John D.

    Another empty hole you keep throwing money into, and not fun!

    Like 1
  8. Mark
    • Gtoforever

      That thing will be big $$$$$$
      Would love to know how you find a car on a lift since the seventies or better yet who leaves it there!!!

      Like 1
  9. George Mattar

    Yeah. All repo junk today is not made in USA. Why do you think I buy only NOS parts? A restorer told me in the early 2000s do NOT buy cars. He told he to buy NOS parts and manuals. He said there will always be cars for sale. Think k about it. He was right long before Barn Finds was established.

    Like 1
  10. NovaTom

    Looks like a typical used car in !975 that would have gotten $1500 tops. If only we had known …..

    Like 1
  11. Idiot Boy

    Somebody will be happy. Hopefully they’re not all money with no common sense. The car is fine the way it is; clearly it’s running and perfectly serviceable per the thoughtful owner’s well written and conscientious write up. There is no reason for a bogus clearcoat or anything else. Clearcoat has no business anywhere near this car. A nice garage is all this car needs. The last thing it needs is somebody screwing it up trying to “improve” it with non-original upholstery and God knows what else. Save that for the ones that truly require it. If you can’t understand the joy of driving a car in exactly this state of preservation, find one that suits you before spoiling one like this. Foreign-made inaccurate parts are the ruination of any survivor unfortunate enough to receive them and that includes $200K restorations that will never be even close to what left the factory. These cars were built in the USA by Americans with American sourced and manufactured components. Honor the history and appreciate that some of them survived in various states without being crushed or turned into globally sourced parts reconstructed show ponies. That’s what makes cars like this the most desirable of all, rips and tears and tarnish notwithstanding.

    Like 1

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