The Chevrolet Chevelle debuted for the 1964 model year as a mid-size automobile from Chevrolet. It was basically a smaller version of the Impala. It was produced throughout the remainder of the 1960s and 1970s and was one of General Motors’ most successful models. Chevelle models ranged from economical family cars to powerful coupes and convertibles. The Malibu was at first the top trim level of the Chevelle line, and it replaced the Chevelle name entirely after 1977.
The Chevelle SS was the high performance version of Chevrolet’s Chevelle, and had its own line of engines and performance equipment. At first caught napping with just a 327 V8, the Chevelle SS would soon sport powerful 396 V8s and eventually the most powerful rated engine in muscle car history, the LS6 454 in 1970. The Chevelle, along with the Pontiac GTO, remains one of the most popular cars from this era and with good reason. Its strong performance at a reasonable price made it popular on the street and at the track.
The Chevelle SS was the high performance version and had its own line of engines and performance equipment. The performance engines available included 327 in³, 350 in³, and 396 in³ V8s - rated at 325, 350 and 375 hp respectively.
The 1966 Chevelle was powered by the a 396 engine with the horsepower outputting between 325 to 375 depending on the configuration. The greater the horsepower the vehicles received, the greater the need to modify the other components of the vehicle. All Chevelles were outfitted with stiffer springs and shocks to counter handling problems.Also available was the L34 396 engine which featured a taller cam, a stronger block, and larger four barrel. The limited edition Z-16 with its 375bhp 396 engine was still available.
In the same year Chevrolet released the L78 396, which shared the Z-16’s 375bhp rating but had solid lifters and new exhaust manifolds, the 427’s large valve heads, 11.0:1 compression, aluminum intake manifold, and an 800-cfm Holley.
The SS name was switched to SS396 to highlight the 396 cubic-inch engine lurking underneath the hood. A new bumper, roof line, and dual hood scoops were applied to the vehicle to give it an updated and more aggressive look. For 1966, 72272 examples were produced. Part of this success is credited with the competitive price, styling and vehicle performance.