Chevelle Turns 50!

50 Years of Ownership

Happy 50th anniversary to my 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396!

The Purchase & Delivery Dates

At this the cars 50th anniversary year, I look back on that fall day in 1967 when I ordered my Chevelle from B. Bogdewic Chevrolet in Bentleyville,  Pennsylvania. I also remember taking delivery of the vehicle on January 16, 1968. The memory of how excited I was on both those dates is still fresh. The story begins with placing the order and awaiting delivery.

The Details of Ordering and the Wait

In 1967,  the midst of the muscle car era, I graduated technical school and found a job at the Army Ammunition plant in Pittsburgh, Pa.  Many of my friends were buying Chevelles, Camaros and GTOs which made it difficult to not become interested in buying something similar.  The car magazines at the time were the best source of information on the manufactures offerings. The drag strips offered insight into which cars were the best performers. Originally I thought of buying an El Camino because of its unique style.  That changed when it was pointed out by my father’s cousin who owned the Chevy dealership, that traction at the drag strip would be an issue due to the lack of weight over the rear wheels. The choice then became the Chevelle SS396. 

I sat down with the dealer sales representative, the dealership owner and my father, who gave much needed guidance in selecting the hidden performance pieces to enter on order form.  Because I wanted the best performance from the car I choose the L78 motor, M22 transmission, 4.10:1 differential gears, and no power-robbing AC, power steering or power brakes.  Because of the former owner of this dealership was Don Yenko, I was taken to the garage where the Yenko Carmaros were being produced to encourage me to purchase one of those. At nearly $1k more than the $3500 Chevelle, it was more than I wanted to spend. Regrets?!  I am good with what I have.

As it turned out, the M22 “Rock Crusher” choice delayed the delivery some 90 days.  The Chevy factory in Baltimore, on a number of occasions, notified the dealership that the car could be shipped earlier if the M21 transmission was an acceptable alternative.  I chose to wait for the M22.  

The Experiences and Memories

At this special time I wanted to celebrate by sharing my simple experiences with other Chevelle enthusiasts, owners and those who may be looking to restore, purchase one or are just curious about these types of cars produced in this particular era.

So, here at the 50th year of ownership, I look back fondly on all the car related experiences I have had with it. From the days of driving around town, cruising with a date, racing at the strip and the occasional street-dual against the Challengers, 442s, GTOs and variety of Fords. To the rebuilding of the engine, the detailing of the frame and maintenance of the front suspension and replacement of wheel bearings and brakes. 

There is one particular story set in the early 70’s about me ducking a set of thrown keys by my perturbed wife; the nicks are still visible today in the car’s original finish.  More recent activities center around cruise-ins and car shows, enjoying the friendship, variety of cars and stories of other car enthusiasts. 

As I think about these times, places and people, I cannot help but marvel at how the car has become the iconic classic that it is and how it came about that it continues to be in my possession.

Here are some Polaroids taken in 1970.