How to Identify a Real SS El Camino

by Sam Kellenberg
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Chevrolet manufactured the SS El Camino from 1968 to 1972 as a response to the Ford Ranchero, which debuted in 1957. While you may find it easy to spot an SS as opposed to a stock model, identifying genuine SS models from lookalikes, clones and vehicles with aftermarket variations has become increasingly difficult.

Step 1

Identify the year and block type of the vehicle. In 1968 through 1970 models, only big blocks were available on the SS, whereas in 1971 and 1972, Chevy added the small-block option.

Step 2

Check the carburetor. Most 1968 through 1970 SS models came with a four-barrel carburetor; only in 1971 and 1972 was it possible to get a 2-bbl 350 carburetor.

Step 3

Check for remote mirrors and glove compartment lights; all 1971 through 1972 SS models came standard with these options.

Step 4

Look at the door panel. If you see an SS door panel emblem, verify that the model is pre-1970. Chevy did not manufacture post-1970 El Camino models with the SS door panel emblem.

Step 5

Search the engine to find any raised codes rather than stamped-in codes. These codes often include the date of the part's casting; if the casting date is after the vehicle's build date or many months before, the part is not original. Raised codes, fashioned as part of the casting process, are extremely difficult to fake.

Step 6

Find the vehicle identification number by opening the driver-side door and looking along the door post where the door usually latches. Check to verify that no unusual welding marks appear around its plate. All genuine SS vehicles from 1966 through 1968 have an "8" as the third digit of the VIN. Starting in 1972, the 5th character in the VIN number of all GM vehicles indicated the vehicle's engine type. A "W" indicates the true SS LS5 454 V-8 4bbl engine.

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