AJ’s Car of the Day: 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Super-Sport 396 Convertible

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Super-Sport 396 Convertible

Car: Chevrolet Chevelle Super-Sport 396 Convertible

Year: 1969

What makes it special: The 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 was a muscle car for the common man, set up the right way, its performance was distinctly uncommon. After a year as a separate model, the SS 396 was made an option package for ’69. That widened its availability from the Malibu sport coupe and convertible, to the Chevelle 300-series hardtop and pillared coupe. It was offered on the El Camino as well.

What made it famous: All Chevelle’s got minor styling changes, including new taillamps. SS 396’s looked cleaner than ever. The power-bulge hood was still just for show, but more-prominent “SS 396” badging inside and out and standard five-spoke mag wheels completed the image.  Decidedly not for show was the L78 version of the 396 cid V8. Costing just over a couple hundred dollars more than the base 325 bhp 396 and over the 350-bhp L34, the solid-lifter L78 was again rated at 375 bhp, but its punch down low and big lungs at high rpm made it feel stronger. The 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic was now the only automatic available on an SS 396, and was the first strong enough to handle the L78. The L78 was also the only mill offered with the infamous Rock Crusher 4-speed. The SS 396 now included power front discs, with the F41 suspension and free-flow chambered exhausts among new options.

Why I would want one: Love the menacing scowl of the front. The 1969 Chevelle is my favorite year.

Fun fact: Chevrolet not only sold  a record 86,307 SS 396’s in ’69, but more than 9,000, an all-time high, were ordered with the L78. An estimated 400 buyers shelled out additional bucks for the L89 option, which fit the L78 with weight-saving aluminum heads.

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