USHERS IN THE 2nd-GENERATION. Kicking off the Second-Generation, the 1969 Chevelle not only got a whole new body shell, but even the wheelbase was changed, going from 115 inches in the 1967 Chevelle down to 112 inches in the Coupe and Convertible (and all Chevelle SS 396s were either Coupes or Convertibles). Civilian Chevelle sedans and wagons went to a 116-inch wheelbase. The body itself was much more tapered, ‘pointier’ at both ends, and more curvaceous, where the ’67 was boxy by comparison. The new car had a long hood and short rear deck with a high rear-quarter kick-up. The hardtops now were semi-fastbacks. The Super Sport models had hideaway wipers. Their accents were blacked out. They rode on F70 X14 red line tires.
1968 CHEVY CHEVELLE SS PRODUCTION NUMBERS
For the first time, the Chevelle SS 396 was considered a series on its own, rather than an option package for a Malibu Coupe or Convertible. The SS 396 was now available in not only Coupe and Convertible body style, but also in the El Camino, which got its own series designation (13880). Chevrolet built 60,499 Chevelle SS 396 Sport Coupes, 2,286 SS 396 Convertibles, and 5,190 SS 396 El Caminos. Chevelle sales as a whole (all body styles and trim levels) climbed from 403,963 units in 1967 to 464,669 units in ’68. They would continue to climb every year to a peak of over 500,000 units in the 1970 model year.
1968 Chevy Chevelle CONVERTIBLE
1968 Chevy Chevelle INTERIORS
1968 Chevy Chevelle ENGINES
1968 CHEVY CHEVELLE SS 396 ENGINE OPTIONS
The 1968 SS396 came standard with the 325hp Turbo-Jet 396 V8. There were two optional 396 V8s, one with 350hp, and the other with 375hp. Along with the new body, the SS396 came with a cool new hood with twin power bulges. Due to mounting pressure from new smog regulations, Chevy reworked the 396 Mark IV big block in an effort to ‘clean it up’, and in the process bored it slightly to 402 cubic inches of displacement. Today, we call these engines 402s, but back in 1969 they continued calling them 396s. A funny thing in the performance-specifications-intensive muscle car marekt at the time…until you remember that GM had an edict preventing any engine larger than 400 cubic inches to be placed in any midsized car (other than the Corvette, of course. A 402 would break the rules, a 396 just squeaked in under them. Of course, GM removed this rule in 1970 and a whole flood of big blocks came pouring out. 455s from Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick, and of course The Big Kahuna, the ultimate GM muscle car engine, the Rat Motor, the 454 big block V8. But that’s another story.
1968 CHEVY CHEVELLE SS 396 SMOG & SAFETY GEAR
From about 1966 onward, Federal smog & safety laws continued to tighten, requiring more and more new equipment and systems to be installed. Manual transmission cars got GMs new “Air Injection Reactor” (A.I.R) smog pump. On the safety front, side marker lights became mandatory, as were seat belts for outboard front seat occupants. 1968 was also the year when VIN numbers were required by Federal law to be placed in the top surface of the dash, visible through the windshield from outside the car, even when it was locked. This is the way cars are, to this day.