Chev Chevelle Generation 2

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Chev Chevelle Generation 2

Chev Chevelle Generation 2

1968 - 1972
6 cyl. & V8
230 to 454 ci
see article
3/4 spd. man 4 spd. AT
Top Speed:
Number Built:
3 star
Chev Chevelle Generation 2
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3


The 1968 Chevelle got an all-new distinctly sculpted body with tapered front fenders and a rounded beltline. The car adopted a long-hood/short-deck profile with a high rear-quarter "kick-up". While all 1967 Chevelle models rode a 115-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase, the 1968 coupes and convertibles now rode a sporty 112-inch (2,800 mm) wheelbase. The sedans and wagons turned to a 116-inch (2,900 mm) span.

Tread width grew an inch front and rear. Hardtop coupes featured a semi-fastback, flowing roofline. Top-trim models (including the SS 396 and new luxury Concours) featured GM's new Hide-A-Way wiper system. Lesser Chevelles would get that change later. The Super Sport (SS396 sport coupe, convertible, and El Camino pickup) became series on its own. Chevrolet produced 60,499 SS 396 sport coupes, 2,286 convertibles, and 5,190 El Caminos; 1968 was the only year the El Camino body style would get its own SS396 series designation (13880).

Black-accented Super Sports rode F70x14 red-stripe tyres and carried a standard 325-horsepower 396-cubic-inch Turbo-Jet V8 engine below the special twin-domed hood; 350 and 375-horsepower 396 engines could be substituted at additional cost. The SS 396 sport coupe started at $2,899 - or $236 more than a comparable Malibu with its 307-cubic-inch V8. All-vinyl bucket seats and a console were optional. Three luxury Concours options became available in March 1968 for the 4-door sedan, the 4-door sport sedan and consisted of special sound insulation, and a deep-padded instrument panel with simulated woodgrain accents and all-vinyl colour-keyed interiors.

These Concours options (ZK5, ZK6, and ZK7) should not be confused with the two Concours station wagons. Also new for 1968 was the elimination of the term "sedan" for the 2-door pillar body style. This was now called a coupe (or pillar coupe) while the 2-door hardtop remained a sport coupe. These coupe/sport coupe designations would continue into 1969 as well. The Concours Estate Wagon was one of four distinct Chevelle wagon models.

A one year Nomad, Nomad Custom was offered. Regular Chevelle engines started with a 140 horsepower (100 kW) Turbo-Thrift six or the new 200 horsepower (150 kW) Turbo-Fire 307 V8, but stretched to a 325 horsepower (242 kW) version of the 327-cubic-inch V8. Manual transmission cars got GM's "Air Injection Reactor (A.I.R)" smog pump, which added complexity under the hood. New Federal safety-mandated equipment included side marker lights, as well as shoulder belts for outboard front seat occupants on cars built after December 1, 1967.

America's Most Popular Mid-Size Car

1969 Chevelles were billed as "America's most popular mid-size car." They showed only minor changes for 1969, led by revised front-end styling. A single chrome bar connected quad headlights, and a slotted bumper held the parking lights. Taillight lenses were larger and more vertical, flowing into the quarter panels. Front vent windows began to fade away now that Astro Ventilation was sending outside air into several Chevelle models. The Chevelle lineup slimmed down to Nomad, 300 Deluxe/Greenbrier, Malibu/Concours, and Concours Estate series, the base 300 series was history. No longer a series of its own, the SS 396 turned into a $347.60 option package for any two-door model.

That meant not just a convertible, sport coupe, or pickup, but even the pillared coupe and sport coupe in the lower-rent 300 Deluxe series (except the base 300 Deluxe El Camino pickup). Fewer SS396-optioned 300 Deluxe coupes and sport coupes were built than their Malibu counterparts and they are solid gold for collectors. The Super Sport option included a 325-horsepower 396-cubic-inch V8 beneath a double-domed hood, along with a black-out grille displaying an SS emblem and a black rear panel. More potent editions of the 396 engine also made the options list, developing 350 or 375 horsepower (280 kW). A few hundred Chevelles even managed to acquire a 427-cubic-inch V8, ordinarily installed only in full-size models.

Chevelle station wagons came in three levels: Concours, Nomad, and Greenbrier - the last a badge formerly used on the Corvair van. A new dual-action tailgate operated either in the traditional manner or as a panel-type door. Wagons stretched 208 inches (5,300 mm) overall versus 197 inches (5,000 mm) for coupes. New round instrument pods replaced the former linear layout. Chevelle options included headlight washers, power windows and locks, and a rear defroster. Chevy's midsize production rose this year, with Malibus far more popular than their less-costly mates. Fewer than seven percent of Malibus had a six-cylinder engine, while more than 86,000 got an SS 396 option. All '69 Chevelles got a new locking steering column one year ahead of the Federal requirement, and headrests required for all cars sold in the U.S. after January 1, 1969.

In 1970, sheetmetal revisions gave the bodies a more squared-up stance and interiors were redesigned, too. The 1970 Chevelle came in sport coupe, sport sedan, convertible, four-door sedan, a couple of wagons, and pickup (El Camino) body styles. Only 3 of these (Malibu sport coupe, Malibu convertible and El Camino pickup) were available with a choice of one of 2 SS options; RPO Z25 with the SS 396 (402 cid) engine and RPO Z15 with the new 454 cid engine. The SS options were limited to the Malibu 2-door sport coupe, Malibu convertible and El Camino pickup. The base model Chevelle was now named Chevelle (which causes confusion) in lieu of the former base 300 Deluxe and was only as a sport coupe or 4-door sedan.

Station wagons were the entry level Nomad, the Chevelle level Greenbrier, the Malibu level Concours and an upscale Concours Estate. New options included power door locks and a stalk-mounted wiper control. Engine choices ranged from the standard 155 horsepower (116 kW) six-cylinder and 200-horsepower 307-cubic-inch V8, to a pair of 350 V8s and a pair of 402 engines. RPO Z25 SS equipment option included one of these 402 cid engines (LS4?) but was still marketed as a 396. The second 402 cid engine was available under RPO LS3, rated at 330 hp with single exhaust, and was available in any V8 series except an SS optioned Malibu or El Camino. 1970 also saw the introduction of the 454 cid engine and was only available with the RPO Z15 SS Equipment option. The base LS5 454 cid engine was rated at 360 hp (which was also available with cowl induction) and the optional LS6 version at 450 hp.

The SS 396 Chevelle included a 350 horsepower (260 kW) Turbo-Jet 396 V8, special suspension, "power dome" hood, black-accented grille, resilient rear-bumper insert, and wide-oval tyres on sport wheels. Though a 375 horsepower (280 kW) cowl induction version was available, few were sold in favor of the newly introduced 454 engine in the October/November 1969 timeframe. The LS5 454-cubic-inch V8 produced 360 horsepower (270 kW) in standard form and a cowl induction version was also available. The LS6 produced a claimed 450 Gross HP in solid-lifter, high-compression, guise. It has been suggested that the LS6 was substantially "under-rated" and actually produced something on the order of 500 horsepower (370 kW) as delivered from the factory, although there is no empirical evidence to support this claim.

Indeed, the AHRA ASA Class record holding Chevelle LS6 for the 1970 season, with class-permitted "tweaks", posted a record-setting trap speed of 106.76 mph (171.81 km/h), which suggests something on the order of 350 "as installed" SAE Net HP for a 3,900 pounds (1,800 kg) car and driver combination. Indeed, Super Chevy Magazine conducted a chassis dyno test of a well-documented, well tuned but production-line stock 1970 LS6 Chevelle and recorded 282 peak HP at the wheels, a figure than lines up quite well with 350 SAE Net HP at the flywheel. "You can make our tough one even tougher," the brochure explained, by adding Cowl Induction to either the SS 396 or the SS 454. Step on the gas, and a scoop opened "to shoot an extra breath of cool air into the engine air second wind to a distance runner." Neither functional hood lock pins nor hood and deck stripes were standard with either SS option, but were part of the optional ZL2 cowl induction hood option. The 454 cu in (7.4 litre) LS5 V8 was rated at 360 hp (270 kW).

1971 Chevelle SS396 Hardtop Coupe

The 1971 Chevelles got fresh front-end styling that included large Power-Beam single-unit headlights, a reworked grille and bumper, and integral park/signal/marker lights. New dual round taillights were integral with the back bumper. Because SS models suffered heavy insurance surcharges, Chevrolet introduced the "Heavy Chevy" at midyear, which was based on the base Chevelle, and was available with any V8 engine except the 454, which was exclusive to SS models. The Heavy Chevy (RPO YF3) was ONLY available with the base Chevelle sport coupe (13437) and was primarily a dress up option and even it was limited to options available on the standard Chevelle sport coupe; no carpeting, no bucket seats, etc.

For 1971, the SS option was reduced to one RPO code, RPO Z15, and was only available for the Chevelle Malibu. This RPO code required any optional engine and transmission available in the Chevelle lineup. Since the 307 V8 was the standard base V8 in 1971, it could not be ordered with the SS option; one had to order one of the two 350 V8 engines (L65 or L48), the LS3 402 or the LS5 454. The minimum Chevelle SS engine was a two-barrel 350-cubic-inch V8 rated at 245 gross (165 net) horsepower. Optionally available was a four-barrel carbureted version of the 350 V8 rated at 275 gross (200 net with dual exhaust and 175 net with single exhaust) horsepower. The 402 cid big-block engine continued to be optional as the SS 396 but was only available in one horsepower rating, 300 gross (260 net) horsepower, and was not available with cowl induction.

The base LS5 454 V8 produced 365 gross and 285 net horsepower, but cowl induction was available that produced more power because of the air induction and louder exhaust system. The LS6 had been planned for 1971, but was dropped before production. As a result the LS6 was only available in the 1971 Corvette. Similarly, the high performance 455 cid engine that was in the 1970 Buick Skylark GS/GSX Stage I had been planned for 1971, but was dropped before production. The parts that would have been used for the 1971 Buick engine were sold to buyers as spare parts delivered in the trunk for the buyer to use and was called the Stage II option.

Chevrolet specifications for 1971 included both "gross" and "net" horsepower figures for all engines. The SS option could be ordered with any optional V8 and became more of a dress-up option than a performance option. GM mandated all divisions design their engines to run on lower-octane regular, low-lead or unleaded gasoline. To permit usage of the lower-octane fuels, all engines featured low compression ratios (9:1 and lower; well below the 10.25-11.25:1 range on high-performance engines of 1970 and earlier). This move reduced horsepower ratings on the big-block engines to 300 for the 402 cubic-inch V8 but surprisingly, the LS5 454 option got an "advertised" five-horsepower increase to 365.

The LS6 454 option, which was originally announced as a regular production option on the Chevelle SS for 1971, was dropped early in the model year and no official records indicate that any 1971 Chevelles were assembled with the LS6 engine. It's interesting to note that both 350 V8 engines, as well as the dual exhaust 402 cid V8 engine, were available without the SS option; only the LS5 454 V8 required the SS option. A single exhaust version of the 402 cid engine existed in 1970 with 330 gross hp and in 1972 with 210 net hp. In 1971 the single exhaust version of the 402 cid engine produced 206 net hp, but only appeared in the full size Chevrolet brochure. Although not appearing in the 1971 Chevelle and Monte Carlo brochures, no doubt it could have been available as a special order.

1972 Chevelle SS coupe

1972 Chevelles wore single-unit parking/side marker lights on their front fenders, outside of a revised twin-bar grille. All Malibus had concealed wipers. The SS equipment option requirements remained the same as those in 1971, any optional V8. The 1972 Chevelle series had wide enough appeal to qualify as America's second-best-selling car. Base versions again included a four-model wagon series. Upscale versions were Malibus including the convertible models. More than 24,000 Malibu Sport Sedans were built, with a standard 307-cubic-inch V8 rated at 130 (net) horsepower. With that V8, the Malibu Sport Coupe was the top seller by far starting at $2,923.

The six-cylinder version ran $90 less. Powertrain options in­cluded the 175-horsepower 350-cubic-inch V8 and 240-horsepower 402-cubic-inch (still known as a 396), as well as a 454 that managed to put out 270 horsepower (200 kW) under the net rating system. Chevelles sold in California could not get the 307 V8 but carried a 350-cubic-inch engine instead. Through the 1970s, California cars often had different powertrains than those marketed in states with less-stringent emissions regulations. 1972 is the last year popular for Chevelle car collectors.

The 1972 Chevelle SS had a top engine rated at 270 net hp (201 kW) conforming with GM's decree that all engines were to be rated at their net engine ratings. Despite the lower rating there was no evidence that power had actually changed on production cars of that year. All other engines on the SS roster were unchanged from 1971. 1972 was the last year for the cowl induction option for the 454 cid engine and was not even mentioned in the 1972 Chevelle brochure. Chevelle wagons measured 10 inches (250 mm) shorter than full-size wagons and weighed about half a ton less, but sold much slower. Model-year output totaled 49,352 Chevelles and 290,008 Malibus - plus 54,335 station wagons.

The Yenko ChevellesRetyred race car driver Don Yenko, (at the time making a living as a Chevrolet dealer), developed his own line of signature Chevelles, along with his own models of Camaros and Novas, which became the Yenko Super Cars. At the time, the largest engine being installed in Chevelle SS's was the 396 cid V8. Yenko decided to equip his acquired models with the Chevrolet 427 cid V8. While being an extremely limited edition of Chevelles, they nonetheless proved very popular among Chevy lovers across the country. Today at auction, the Yenko Super Cars can bring as much as $2.2 million.

Prior to 1970, GM had a restriction stating no mid-size car could have an engine with a displacement over 400 cu in (6.6 litre). Don Yenko discovered a way to get around that edict. Don used the Central Office Production Order system, which normally filled special-equipment fleet orders, to create a special COPO that included the L72 427 cubic inch 425 hp (317 kW) engine and the needed drive train upgrades. A few other dealers ordered the package Yenko created and sold them as their own supercars. (Berger, Sunico, etc.)
1969 Chev Chevelle
1970 Chev Chevelle
1971 Chev Chevelle

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