1968 Chevelle SS396
Any comments/corrections/additions please send
them to me and be sure to specify which year.
The 1968 Chevelle SS396 was a separate series from the 300, 300 Deluxe & Malibu series and can be readily identified by both the Fisher Body Number plate (a.k.a. trim tag, cowl tag, etc.) and the Vehicle Identification plate (VIN).
The 1968 SS396 was available in sport coupe (37), convertible (67), and pickup (80) models and the 396 cid Mark-IV engine was the base engine. The Fisher Body style numbers 13837, 13867 & 13880 and VINs beginning with 13837, 13867, & 13880 will note an SS396. As with all years of Super Sports, the VIN only depicts the base engine and does not indicate any optional engine. The base 396 engine was the (L35) 325hp engine with two optional 396 engines, the L34 350hp version and a L78 375hp version. 1968 is the ONLY year the pickup (El Camino) was offered in the SS396 series.
Contrary to popular belief bucket seats, gauges, and 4-speeds were not standard equipment. A front bench seat, no gauges (except speedometer and fuel gauge), and a 3-speed heavy duty transmission were standard with the SS396.
All SS396 Chevelles came with a 12-bolt rear end but Positraction was still an option; an open rear end was standard. However, a 12-bolt rear end, as well as Positraction, was available on non-SS396 Chevelles as well so the presence of a 12-bolt (with or without Positraction) is not an indication of a 1968 SS396 Chevelle.
Distinctive blacked out grille, Super Sport trim, a special SS396 hood with faux twin scoops, and SS396 emblems on the grille & rear cove.
Blacked-out grille and grille extensions along with SS396 badge centered in the grille. The D96 stripes shown here were optional. The lower rocker panels, below the lower belt-line trim, were blacked-out on SS396 Chevelles and lower body color on non-SS396 Chevelles. This trim extended from the headlamp area (shown above) to aft of the rear wheel well on an SS396 Chevelle. Disc brakes were still an option carried over from 1967 but rally wheels were now optional on any 1968 Chevelle.
The rear cove between the tail lamps also received the blacked-out treatment along with the centered SS396 badge.
Lower Body Panel
Regardless of body color, the lower sills were done in black on all SS396 Chevelles as shown in the first two images. All others were painted lower body color.
Part of the black-out treatment with the SS option includes the grille extensions. Top photo is an SS396 and lower photo is 300 Deluxe. The 300 and Malibu series are the same as the pictured 300 Deluxe.
Front Side Marker
Sometime around the end of the 1967 calendar year the front side markers changed the foil from SS396 to simply 396. This change varied from plant to plant as to the dates. A chart of some complied information is located here, if you have any information on any cars with the SS396 emblem, please let me know (be sure to include body date from trim tag, assembly plant, and body style) by contacting me here.
Often referred to as a 'roller tach' even though the tachometer face itself did not move. The needle is what actually moved, not the scale. The location of the tachometer in the center bezel of the dash made it difficult to read.
Tachometer and gauges (RPO U14) could be ordered in any SS396 but could also be ordered in any V8 Malibu sport coupe, convertible, or pickup. Note the top photo shows a 5,000 RPM redline that was used for small block V8s (except the L79), the middle photo with a 5,500 RPM redline used for the 327 325hp L79 engine and the 396 325hp and 350hp engines and the bottom photo with a 6,000 RPM redline was used on the 396/375hp L78 engine.
The Head Assembly part number for the small block V8 is #6468821, the 327 L79, 396 325hp and 350hp engines is part #6468822, and the L78 engine is part #6468823.
Beginning in 1968, the tachometer-only option of RPO U16 was dropped and only the tachometer and gauges option RPO U14 was available. RPO U14 sold 19,393 units in 1968 but since that number is for all U14 options there is no way to know how many of each were sold. Odds are that more SS936 cars with the standard 325hp engine and optional 350hp engines were sold with the option.