Chevelle 396 SS: An Overview of This Chevy Muscle Car

The Chevelle 396 SS is a popular classic car from the 60s, which marked the entry of Chevrolet into the muscle car market. The car built an incredible following when it was released due to its impressive redesign and big-block engine power.

Chevelle 396 SS

The SS 396 was first offered as a separate Chevelle model, and it was later demoted as a performance package in 1969. In this guide, we will take a closer look at this Chevelle model and its impressive features.

What Is the Chevrolet Chevelle 396 SS?

The Chevrolet Chevelle 396 SS is a muscle car with a Turbo-Jet 396 V8 engine made by Chevrolet. The Chevrolet SS stands for Super Sport, and it marked the introduction of the well-known brand into the muscle car competition scene.

The SS 396 became a standalone series when it was released in 1966, with series numbers 13817 and 13867. The SS 396 came as a sports coupe and convertible body, with a modified front suspension and reinforced frames. It also came with higher-rate springs, a thicker front stabilizer bar, and recalibrated shocks. The cars also had simulated hood scoops, bright trim moldings, and red-stripe tires.

The Chevelle SS 396 was available from 1966 to 1968 before being made into a package in 1969. The 1966 and 1967 model years came with a strut back 2-door sport coupe design, with their own style number. The Malibu SS badges can be found on the sporty Chevelles made in Canada.

The 1969 Chevy Chevelle SS 396 is unique among the other SS models because it was available as a post coupe. Since it was an option package, drivers could get it on the 300 Deluxe Coupe. The package was also available on the Malibu Sport Coupe and Convertible.

  • Chevelle Z-16 SS 396

There was a special model from the Chevelle SS 396 which was called Z-16, and only 200 models were produced at the Kansas City plant. The Z-16 option included the convertible boxed frame, heavy-duty suspension, narrowed rear axle, brake assemblies, and other comfort and convenience options.

Chevelle Z16 SS 396

It was powered by a standard big-block 396 Turbo Jet V8 with a hydraulic lifter, and it was paired with a Muncie wide-ratio four-speed manual transmission. The rear panel of the car came with a black and chrome trim, with untrimmed taillights from the Chevelle 300.

The first prototype of the car was built at the Baltimore plant, and 200 production units were made. All the units were two-door hardtops, and one unit was specially made for Chevrolet General Manager Knudsen. There are 75 Z-16s accounted for today.

History and Features of the Chevelle SS 396

Here is a close look at the features and history of the different Chevelle 396 models throughout the years.

  • Features of the 1966 Model

With the popularity of muscle cars came the 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396, which became America’s favorite muscle car. This year, Chevrolet released 66,842 hardtops and 5,429 convertibles. The standard engine option was the L35 396-cid engine giving off 325 horsepower. Then the optional engine options were the 360-hp L34 396 and the 375-hp L78 396 engines.


The SS 396 could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds and had a maximum speed of 99.9 miles per hour. All the engine options were available with automatic or manual transmissions. The car used Chevelle brakes and suspension prices. Combining comfortable seats, sporty styling, and tractable engines, it offered a base price of $2,776.

Features of 1966 Chevelle Model

The SS 396 also came with luxurious standard interior options, including the sport wheel covers, dual exhaust, simulated scoops, and a tachometer. It was advertised as a quick and sporty car that was great for daily use. The most powerful engine was directed toward those that wanted a racing car.

The car offered attractive styling and a bucket seat interior. It also came with air conditioning, a console, a gauge package, wood wheels, power brakes, power windows, AM/FM radio, power steering, and a four-way hazard flasher.

  • Features of the 1967 Model

Although the Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 was popular in the 1966 model year, the 1967 model year was not as popular. There were some changes to the car, as it offered top-notch road manners and drivability. The tires were replaced with a lower-profile F70X14 with nylon belts, and the grip and steering response were enhanced.

The car also came with newly available front disc brakes, pedal modulation, and impressive stopping power. It also came with 14-inch slotted wheels. There was a standard three-speed manual transmission, and the optional versions included a four-speed manual and two-speed automatic transmission. There was also three-speed Hydramatic transmission.

Due to federal safety regulations, the 1967 SS 396 came with an energy-absorbing steering column, and the instrument panel surface was padded. There was also an optional tachometer placed to the left of the steering wheel. As for the exterior, the changes were minor, like a grille, bumper, and tail panel.

In terms of the engine, the car came with the 396-cid V8 engine that gave off 325 bhp. There was also the 375-bhp L78, which was available on the cars but not advertised in brochures. For the 1967 model, there was a coupe that costs $2,825, while the ragtop went for $3,033.

  • Features of the 1968 Model

The 1968 Chevelle SS 396 was advertised as an everyman’s muscle car when it was first released. The car was reliable and affordable, with a rugged design and a powerful engine. The car came with a new style and lost three inches of wheelbase. It still came with the 396-cid V8 engine, with heavy-duty suspension and F70X14 wide ovals.

Features of Chevelle 1968 Model

The interior of the car was redesigned too, but there were still extras like bucket seats, accent stripes, power front disc brakes, and positraction. The base engine came with 325 bhp, and the other engine offered 375 bhp. It also came with solid lifters, a Holley four-barrel, and big port heads. It featured three-speed manual transmission and optional four-speed and automatic.

The suspension was not improved on the 1968 SS 396, as it still rode roughly and was noisy when it went over bumps. Even with the four-speed manual transmission, the car was not as smooth as expected when driving.

The L78 engine was available for those who wanted to ride roughly and ferociously. There were 62,785 models released this year, and only a small fraction of the cars came with the L78 engine.

  • The SS 396 as a Package Option in 1969

From 1969, the SS 396 was offered as an equipment package for Chevy cars rather than a model on its own. Once it was set up as a package option, it became widely available on the Malibu sport coupe and convertible. It was also available on the Chevelle 300 hardtop and pillared coupe.

The package also offered minor styling changes to the car, including new taillamps, bucket seats, AM radio, center console, and power steering. One popular option was the LeMans SS 396, which was a sleek blue muscle car with a black vinyl top and a dark blue bucket seat. The amazing car was available for $3,926. It was also a popular racing model.

There was also the Tuxedo Black SS 396, which offered 375 horsepower. There was another model with B90 side window molding, which offered a style to the plain exterior. It also came with an L78 engine, TH400 automatic, power front discs, fear window defogger, F70-14 tires, AM radio with manual antenna, and auxiliary rear speaker.

Some of the common problems with cars with the package included corrosion in the inner rocker panels and floor pans. The frame and front suspension also dealt with corrosion.

Buying Guide for a Classic Chevelle SS 396

When you’re getting the Chevelle SS 396, it’s important to assess the car and check for specific features. The classic car will make a great addition to your collection. Before purchasing the car, you should check for the cowl build tag, which is five lines of code that tell you a lot about the car.

Buying Guide for Chevelle SS 396

Then, you need to check for the big block engine stamp on the car, and it differs based on where the engine was made. So if it was made in Tonawanda, New York, you will see a ‘T’ at the front of the engine stamp, but those made in Atlanta, Georgia, start with ‘A’. You should also check the engine block casting number if it comes with a L78 engine.

The other things that you need to check include the carburetor choke horn date and list stamp, the deep-groove water pump pulley stamp, the ignition distributor date stamp, and the rear axle housing stamp. Also, check if the car has a Muncie M-21 transmission casting and heavy-duty radiator tag.

For an authentic SS 396 car, you should have a quarter-panel trunk drip rail stamp and a wheel option code stamp. If you’re thinking of adding this car to your collection, you will notice that it is a pretty expensive option. The value is between $100,000 and $125,000.
You might be wondering what model is the most popular today. The most popular Chevelle is the 1970 option. The 1970 Chevelle dominates the current market, and buyers can easily get the original restorations and custom restorations versions. The SS model is a very rare option for collectors.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Much Horsepower Does the Chevelle SS 396 Give?

The Chevelle SS 396 gives 325 to 375 horsepower, depending on the engine you choose and the trim. The base engine offered 325 horses. Then, there was the L34 engine which offered 360 horsepower. The most powerful engine was the L78, which had 375 horsepower.

– What Does Chevelle SS Letters Mean?

Chevelle SS letters mean Chevelle Super Sport, which can be identified by the distinctive SS markings on the exterior. It is a signature performance car and was also offered as a performance option for a limited number of Chevy cars. It was produced in 1973.

– How Much Was the Chevelle SS 396?

The Chevelle SS 396 was $2,899, or $236 more if you got the bigger engine. The car also had other features that cost extra, like the bucket seat and console. When it became a package, it was $347.60 and was available for convertibles, sports coupes, pickups, and more.
Currently, the SS 396 is an expensive option for classic collectors. It can cost up to $125,000, depending on the rarity and scarcity of the car.

How Does the Chevelle 396 SS Compare to the 57 Chevy Model?

When comparing the Chevelle 396 SS to the iconic 57 Chevy model, there are notable differences and similarities. The 57 Chevy model review often highlights its classic design and historical significance. On the other hand, the Chevelle 396 SS boasts a powerful engine and enhanced performance. Both models hold a special place in automotive history, attracting enthusiasts with their distinct features and charm.


The Chevelle 396 SS might have had a short run before it was turned into a performance package, but it is still an impressive muscle car from the 60s.

Here’s a summary of our article:

  • The Chevelle 396 SS is a muscle car with a Turbo-Jet 396 V8 engine that was available from 1966 to 1968.
  • From 1969, the 396 SS was available as a performance option on coupes, convertibles, and other Chevrolet cars.
  • A special model was the 396 SS Z-16, in which only 200 models were made, and it came with the same engine as the standard SS 396.
  • The SS 396 could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds and had a maximum speed of 99.9 miles per hour.
  • Before buying a classic SS 396, you should check the stamps, codes, and numbers for the wheel, hood, and other parts.

With our complete guide, you know all you need about the short-running SS 396 car. This thrilling car offers great speed despite being a classic, but it’s rare, so it might be hard to add it to your collection.

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