The Differences Between the 1968 and 1969 Chevelle

by Laurie Junkins
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The Chevrolet Chevelle is one of the most iconic muscle cars made in America, with the 1968 and 1969 models being among the most popular. The 1968 and 1969 Chevelles came in four models, from the basic, entry-level to the Super Sport (SS). Each model featured a few upgrades, such as a higher horsepower engine or interior carpet. The Chevelle models in 1968 and 1969 were almost identical, except for some minor styling details and engine options.


The styling of the 1969 Chevelle underwent a few minor changes from the prior year, including larger tail lights, a reistyled front end with a straight-line grill instead of a honeycomb pattern, rear quarter panels oriented straight down instead of at a 45 degree angle, a location change for the interior door locks and different bumper mounting brackets. The grill is probably the most recognizable change -- most of the other style changes would be difficult for the casual observer to spot, making the 1968 and 1969 Chevelle models appear nearly identical.


In 1968, the Chevelle Super Sport was an entirely separate car from the other Chevelle models. In 1969, however, Chevrolet changed that, offering the SS package on any model Chevelle, including the base model. The Chevelle 300 came standard with a 250 horsepower, 327 cubic inch small block engine, while the next two models -- the 300 Deluxe and the Malibu -- featured a 155 horsepower, in-line, six-cylinder engine. The "Z25" option in 1969, however, upgraded any of these models to an SS, which included a 325 horsepower, V-8 big-block engine. Other optional upgrades included even higher performance, up to 375 horsepower. The SS also featured dual exhausts, a black painted grill, Malibu taillights, SS 396 emblems on the front and rear, a twin power bulge hood, SS wheels and upgraded interior, including bucket seats and a center console. Chevrolet sold the SS option package on more than 83,000 cars in 1969, as compared to the sale of only 57,600 Chevelle SS cars in 1968.


Perhaps the most significant difference between the 1968 and 1969 Chevelles was that in 1969, Chevrolet offered the most powerful engine yet, a very rare 427 cubic inch, big block V-8. This engine had to be ordered through the Central Office Production Order program, and only 358 of them were hand assembled. Virtually all of the 427 cubic inch engines were shipped to the Don Yenko dealership in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Known today as "Yenko Chevelles," these very limited edition cars are difficult to find and extremely expensive.

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