In 1966 Chevrolet offered a full range of 396 cubic inch ‘Porcupine Head’ engines in the mid-size Chevelle line. With up to 375 bhp, the SS 396 put real power into the line that has come to epitomize Chevy’s muscle car heritage. Dubbed ‘Porcupine Head’ because of its different stem angles for intake and exhaust valves, the 396 breathed well and was Chevrolet’s response to the effectiveness of Chrysler’s more complicated Hemi head engines. This engine series had been quietly developed in several years of racing and proven in production since 1965.
To back up the 396’s power, and slightly greater weight than the standard 327 cu. in. Chevelle engine, the SS396 package included stiffer suspension. It also displayed the usual options and identification features that were de rigeur at the time to let bystanders know the driver of an SS 396 was the master of real power, at the stoplight or driven.
The SS 396 offered here has the hydraulic valve lifter 360bhp L34 engine and close ratio 4-speed transmission, a combination of serious muscle with excellent driveability. A center console separates the optional vinyl covered bucket seats, which are however more sporty looking than body hugging. A console mounted tachometer permits the driver to monitor both engine revs and the position of the 4-speed shifter simultaneously, while the road takes care of itself, not usually a problem on the SS 396’s straight line quarter mile dashes. While the convertible body style’s extra frame stiffening adds 100 pounds over the 2-door hardtop’s curb weight, 360 bhp deals adequately with the increase in mass. Correct style red line tires complete this SS 396’s presentation.
The engine bay, motor and interior are all in excellent condition, all showing virtually no wear or usage. The Chevelle has been well maintained and used sparingly since William Lassiter purchased the car in the mid 1980s. An older restoration to showroom condition, this SS 396 convertible is a delightful combination of 60’s style and performance, an icon of the Muscle Car era.