1969 Chevelle SS396: Almost a Custom!

Owned by Delco Hagen, San Marcos, CA

This incredible ’69 Chevelle SS396 almost became a chopped up custom!

My 1969 Chevelle SS396 was purchased through good old eBay. It was represented as an “unfinished custom car with newer Corvette running gear”. It had been equipped with air bags, front and rear. To look at the car in the ad, it looked great – until I arrived to pick it up. After a brief argument over missing parts and sloppy workmanship (which lead to a subsequent price reduction), I loaded this project onto my truck and headed back to San Diego. After a couple of weeks, I uncovered the car and began to put together an itemized list of what it would take to complete this project as a custom build. Because of all of the missing parts and re-doing the sloppy work, you can only imagine the final tally.

I called Terry Sparks – my former shop foreman of 22 years and asked for him to stop by and take a look at the car. He’s is a certified Chevelle nut who is also a walking encyclopedia on these cars. He asked that I bring it to his new shop. There, he would begin by pulling the body off the frame, check all the original numbers, and research the VIN# history before we went any further. As it turned out, that was a very good recommendation.

The car still wore its original Monaco Orange paint, as evidenced by the factory overspray in the trunk and wheel well areas. This would be the proof that this is a true big-block SS car. That, and the fact that it was also equipped with the 396 and a 4-speed transmission. Knowing this information, he told me in plain English I would be nuts to continue with the custom work that had been started.

I personally hate going backwards on a project, so I choose to put the car away until I could decide the next move. I had even considered putting it back on eBay, but I couldn’t have described the car honestly and expected to get any real money for it. So I passed.

After further research, I had to suck it up and do it right. These true and honest cars are drying up fast, and I had to agree with Terry that the only way to build it was back to how GM intended it to be. I brought the car back to Terry's shop, unloaded it and said, “Git ’Er Done!”

This was the very first project I had given Terry full control over. It was his job completely. My job was to pay the bills and search for correct date code and NOS parts when needed. The restoration on this car took about 18 months to complete, much of which was due to waiting on the parts – NOS or original. Correct parts, not reproductions, are really getting difficult to find!
The car has been finished for almost a year now, and has won every show it’s been in – most of which have been Concours events, AACA and Chevy Classics. The speedo now shows just over 46 miles, and it is a spectacular car just to look at! It’s even more fun to drive down the street on rare occasions.

I have since purchased another ’69 Chevelle, which Terry is also doing. However, this one is a convertible, which will be shown with the hardtop. Both are Monaco Orange with Pearl (white) interiors and white tops. Both are L-89 4-speed cars. The only difference is the convertible has power windows. Both have dead straight bodies as each have been primed and blocked twice prior to applying the PPG paint.

Hats off to Terry on these 2 cars. I'm a happy car owner!
This 1969 Chevrolet Super Sport Chevelle

    • 396, 375 horsepower, aluminum head L-89

    • M-22 4-speed, 3.36 Posi

    • Power Steering, Power Disc Brakes Bucket Seats, Console Radio with rear antenna

    • Date Coded Tinted Glass

    • Factory Tach and Gauge Package

    • NOS Deluxe Seat Belts

    • White Vinyl Top

    • Factory Sway Bars

That Orange! Did you know?

For 1969, paint code 72 was called Hugger Orange on the Camaro. Chevelle and Corvette also used that exact same color, only it was referred to as Monaco Orange. Pontiac’s GTO offered it as “Carousel Red”.

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