How to Identify an SS Chevelle
The Chevrolet Chevelle from 1964 through 1972 underwent several changes with the SS (Super Sport) designation.
In 1964 and 1965 the Malibu SS was offered in a sport coupe and convertible configuration. The Malibu SS had its own series in 1964 and 1965. Both the 1964 and 1965 Malibu SS could be ordered with any V8 or 6-cyl engine. A limited production run of 200 Chevelle Malibu SS sport coupes were produced in 1965 in preparation of the SS396 series that was to follow.
|1964 Malibu SS in SS-only color of Goldwood Yellow|
|1965 Malibu SS in Madeira Maroon|
|1965 Malibu SS 396 in Crocus Yellow with black vinyl top|
From 1966 through 1968 the SS396 replaced the Malibu SS series and the SS396 remained a different series than the standard Malibu. In 1966 and 1967 the SS396 was limited to the sport coupe and convertible, but in 1968 the SS396 series was extended to the El Camino line as well and it turned out to be the only year the El Camino received its own SS396 series. The base engine in the SS396 Chevelle was the 325hp 396 V8 engine with 360hp (1966), 350hp (1967 & 1968) and 375hp versions as options.
|1966 SS396 convertible in Madeira Maroon|
|1967 SS396 convertible in Marina Blue|
|1968 SS396 sport coupe in Teal Blue|
|1968 SS396 El Camino in Grecian Green|
In 1969 the SS396 series was dropped and the Regular Production Option (RPO) Z25 SS Equipment option was offered. The RPO Z25 SS Equipment option was available on the Malibu series sport coupe, convertible and pickup as well as the 300 Deluxe series 2-dr coupe (13427) and 300 Deluxe series 2-dr sport coupe (13437). This was the only year RPO Z25 was offered as an option on any series other than the Malibu series.
|1969 SS396-optioned Malibu sport coupe in LeMans blue with parchment vinyl top|
|1969 SS396-optioned 300 Deluxe coupe in Dover White|
|1969 SS396-optioned Malibu sport coupe in SS-only color of Monaco/Hugger Orange|
|1969 SS396-optioned Malibu sport coupe in SS-only color of Daytona Yellow|
|1969 SS396-optioned El Camino in Garnet Red with black vinyl top|
1970 saw the continuation of RPO Z25 but it was only available on the Malibu sport coupe, convertible and pickup series. 1970 also saw the introduction of RPO Z15 with the 454 engine. Aside from the external SS396 or SS454 emblems on the front fenders there was no physical differences in the outward appearance of the two options. Sometime in late 1969, the 396 engine received a 0.030-inch larger bore and actually displaced 402 cubic inches. When the 350hp (L34) and 375hp (L78) engines were used with the RPO Z15 option, all emblems, stickers, etc. still said "396." Chevrolet also introduced a second engine of this size (remember, it's now a 402 cubic inch engine) under RPO LS3 and producing 330hp. This engine was available in anything EXCEPT an SS-optioned Chevelle and was strangely called a Turbo-Jet 400 and owner's often refer to them as a "Malibu 400."
|1970 SS396-optioned Malibu sport coupe in Fathom Blue|
|1970 SS454-optioned Malibu sport coupe in Cranberry Red|
|1970 SS396-optioned El Camino in Astro Blue with black vinyl top|
1971 began the downfall of the performance era. From 1966 through 1970 the SS396 series, and SS options in 1969 and 1970, were primarily performance-oriented options and all came with at least the 396 cubic inch V8 engine.
1971 saw the Z25 SS Equipment option (along with the 396 engine) dropped and only the RPO Z15 SS Equipment option remained. However, the new RPO Z15 SS equipment option did not include a specific engine size as it had in 1969 and 1970. Rather, it became more of a dress-up option and could be ordered with any optional V8 engine and optional transmission; meaning either of the two 350 cubic inch engines (L65 or L48), the 402 cubic inch engine (LS3) or the 454 cubic inch engine (LS5) had to be ordered with the RPO Z15 SS Equipment option. Only the lone remaining 454 engine (RPO LS5) required the SS option to be ordered while the two 350 cubic inch engines and the 402 could be ordered with or without the SS option. The RPO Z15 SS Equipment option remained essentially the same for 1972.
|1971 SS-optioned Malibu sport coupe in Flame Orange with parchment vinyl top|
|1971 SS-optioned El Camino in Rosewood|
|1972 SS-optioned Malibu sport coupe in Cream Yellow|
|1972 SS-optioned El Camino in Pewter Silver|
1973 marked the final year of the SS Equipment option in the Chevelle lineup. Two 350 cubic inch V8 engines in 145hp and 175hp versions were offered as well as the LS4 454 rated at 245hp as the LS5 454 was dropped from the lineup. For the first and only time, the Malibu Station wagon was available with the SS Equipment option. In all, 28,647 RPO Z15 SS Equipment options were sold in 1973; about 12% of the Chevelles that could have ordered the SS Equipment option did so. This is also the first year the 454 engine could be ordered in a Chevelle without the SS Equipment option.
|1973 SS-optioned Colonnade sport coupe in Light Blue|
See the link for each year to read more specific information about the Malibu SS, SS396 and SS equipment options.