1969 Chevelle Engine Photos & 396 cid Engine Production Numbers
A few things should be mentioned about the 1969 396/402 engines. Towards the end of the model year the 396 cid engine was increased to 402 cid. Rumors abound for the reason of the 402 cid existence. One is that Tonawanda has a lot of bare blocks rusting away and decided to bore them +0.030 to clean them up. GM wouldn't do this. It is believed the increase in bore size was done in preparation of 1970 (when all 396 cid engines were really 402 cid) because engines over 400 cid had lower restrictions on smog regulations. Whatever the reason the 'new' 402 would become the base engine in the 1970 SS396 option even though it was a larger engine size. This 402cid engine was also available from 1970-1972 as RPO LS3 and referred to as either a 400-4 or a Turbo-Jet 400 to distinguish it from a newly introduced 400 cid small block V8 referred to as either a 400-2 (as it was only available with a 2-barrel carburetor) or a Turbo-Fire 400.
This was the first year the SS396 was discontinued as a separate series and became an option just like air conditioning, a radio, a vinyl top, etc. This is also only year that the SS Equipment option could be ordered on anything other than a Malibu sport coupe, convertible, or pickup. The SS Equipment option was also available on the two 300 Deluxe series body styles, the 13427 coupe (2-door post) and the 13437 sport coupe (hardtop).
Not all 396 engines went into RPO Z25 optioned Chevelles. There was
also a "police
package" that could be ordered with a 396 engine in a 300 Deluxe
4-door sedan body style. It's believed 323 non-SS396 optioned Chevelles
were built. This figure is arrived at by subtracting the number of RPO
Z25 (SS 396 Equipment) options sold from the total of the three 396
RPO L35 = 59,786
RPO L34 = 17,358
RPO L78 = 9,486
Total = 86,630
RPO Z25 = 86,307
323 396 engines sold not accounted for via RPO Z25
There is another discrepancy in the L78 engine and L89 aluminum head option numbers vs. production numbers. According to Tonawanda numbers 8,876 L78 engines were built and 412 L89 aluminum head options were built. When the L89 option was included the suffix code on the L78 engine changed. The L78 engine totals below indicate only the iron head suffix codes yet documentation from GM indicates 9,486 L78 options were sold - a difference of 610 "missing" engines. Either the Tonawanda engine production totals are wrong or the GM reported L78 sales is wrong. I tend to believe, but cannot prove, the GM reported L78 sales figure is a typographical error and would be 8,486. Subtracting this 8,486 from the Tonawanda reported 8,876 production would leave 390 service engines which is in line with other engines. For now, I suppose we'll never know for sure.
The 1969 model year was also unique in that Yenko Chevrolet worked some GM back-door deals via the Fleet & Special Order department to obtain via Central Office Production Order (COPO) means to get 427 cid engines installed in various Camaros and Chevelles. For that reason RPO L72, the 427/425 from the passenger car line, are included here as well.
It's believed these new 402cid engines can be identified in 1969 by the three letter suffix code. Anyone with good, readable, engine pads with a 3-letter suffix please send it to me for inclusion on this page.
1969 396 V8 Engine Production
|60,684||Total L35 Engines|
|59,786||Total L35 Cars|
|98.5% of total L35 engine production went into Chevelles in 1969.||00,898||Service Engines|
|17,937||Total L34 Engines|
|17,358||Total L34 Cars|
|96.8% of total L34 engine production went into Chevelles in 1969.||00,579||Service Engines|
|8,876||Total L78 Engines|
|9,486||Total L78 Cars|
|See L78/L89 notes above||-610||More cars than engines|
|412||Total L89 Engines|
|400||Total L89 Cars|
|97.1% of total L89 engine production went into Chevelles in 1969.||012||Service Engines|
|L72||425||Manual||MQ||277||427 cid COPO|
|L72/M40||425||TH-400||MP||096||427 cid COPO|
|373||Total COPO 427 Engines|
|323||Total COPO 427 Cars|
|86.6% of total L72 engine production went into Chevelles in 1969.||050||Service Engines|
Explanation of the 3-letter suffix codes for the 'new' 402cid engines. Interesting to note that none of the engine codes shown with RPO MA6 (heavy duty clutch) are included in the Tonawanda engine report.
Engine ID Stampings
T0927HQ - Tonawanda, September 27 350/255hp w/manual transmission.
Suspect this is for a Canadian Pontiac (GM division 7).
T1104JK - Tonawanda, November 4 396/325hp w/TH400 transmission.
Partial VIN stamping for T1104JK engine above. Note the difficulty often found in reading in this area (344635).
T1230JK - Tonawanda, December 30 396/325hp w/TH400 transmission.
T0217JA - Tonawanda, February 17 396/325hp w/manual transmission.
Courtesy Greg Wilson
T0313HB - Tonawanda, March 13 350/300hp w/TH350 transmission.
Note the partially visible CON VIN on this Baltimore Chevelle engine.
T0425DD - Tonawanda, April 25 207/200hp w/TH350 transmission.
T0416JK - Tonawanda, April 16 396/325hp w/TH400 transmission.
T0418JA - Tonawanda, April 18 396/325hp w/manual transmission.
T0624JK - Tonawanda, June 24 396/325hp w/TH400 transmission.
The leading '0' could be correct as at least one other 1969 Baltimore Chevelle has been found to have this leading '0' as well as one Fremont Chevelle.
An Atlanta partial VIN stamping.
Courtesy Greg Wilson
T0610JD ~ 19B394809
T0419HC ~ 19B383315. Note on a small block the Tonawanda engine stamp is on the right side of the engine pad while the VIN derivative is on the left.
T0421JC ~ 19B3890645
T1022JE - Tonawanda, October 22 396/350hp w/TH400 transmission.
T0211KF ~ Tonawanda, February 11 396/375hp w/TH400 transmission.
T0409KF - Tonawanda, April 9 396/375hp w/TH400 transmission.
Courtesy Dean Call
Ongoing research indicates that the Atlanta & Kansas City plants used this alternate location for 396 engines. Note this particular example was stamped several times.
Note leading '0' in the partial VIN stamping.
Note the leading '3' on this partial VIN stamping.
T0826JE ~ Tonawanda, August 28 396/350hp w/TH400 transmission.
Also see here for more partial VIN locations and examples.