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Super Sport

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By the numbers, GM produced a lot of Chevelles. In 1967, 369,133 were built, and overwhelming a majority were V8-powered cars at 283,400. Where things can get surprising is in the realms of the SS vs. base Chevelle. A base-level Chevelle V8 rang up at the cash register for $2,326, about 4,800 consumers wrote a check for one. For just $500 more, the SS396 version is a bargain, and something that 63,000 proud owners discovered on their test drives. With so many SS396 Chevelles in the market, setting yourself apart from the crowd may be a little tough.

This is one of those cars. The fact that this is a beautiful original survivor makes it worth looking at, but a recent event made the car a touch more unique. The producers of the movie “Tree of Life” selected this Chevelle for a feature in the movie. The movie, which stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, was filmed throughout Texas, including Dallas, Austin, Houston, Waco and the infamous La Grange (made famous by ZZ Top). Part of the Statler Collection from Tyler, Texas, it was an easy decision. “Tree of Life” begins in the 1950s, and progresses through the life of the main character, Jack (Penn), whose father (Pitt) teaches him the ways of the world. It may not be a car-chase movie, but then we wouldn’t have a car to look at afterwards, it would have been smashed. The car has traded hands a couple of times since the movie was filmed, Fred and Kim Murfin of Red Line Auto Sports in Wilson, Oklahoma recently purchased the car and told us about its history.

The Chevelle is worthy on its own merits. An original 4-speed car, the factory Tahoe Turquoise color (coded LL) covers all of the original body panels. A southern Texas car, there is no rust to be seen anywhere, even the trunk is perfect.  The bumpers were rechromed to match the perfect paint, but the stainless trim buffed out to a blinding shine.

Moving inside, the Chevelle needed a little more love. The interior had seen better days, so the original bucket seats and rear seats were recovered with restoration covers. A new headliner, door panels, dash pad and carpet were also installed. One thing that is a must in southern Texas is A\C, which was not originally installed on the Chevelle. A Vintage Air retrofit A\C system was installed to upgrade the car while maintain the original look under the hood.

Numbers matching, the 325 horsepower 396 big block is original to the last bolt. It has been freshened up on the outside, but runs like a top. Cracking the VIN code, we learn that the Chevelle was built in Kansas with the 396 being built in the Tonawanda on October 12, 1966. Having driven the car, we can tell you, this sucker runs. We drove it about 40 miles during our photo shoot, and unlike many survivor (and even some fresh restorations) it never lost its composure. Although, it is worth mentioning, we hard time getting set up with all the people stopping by to look at the car. Power steering and power disc brakes make the car a breeze to drive, and the 1” front sway bar keeps the car level in the turns. The front suspension had been rebuilt with new rubber components and consumables, so it rode quite well on the 1969 14×7 rally wheels wrapped in Redline rubber.

Setting yourself apart in a world full of quality SS Chevelles is not easy. Having a super-clean original car is just part of the equation. The story behind the car needs to be just as compelling. We think Brad Pitt and Sean Penn having driven this one in a movie is pretty interesting.

01.Few body styles have the sheer macho attitude of the ’67 Chevelle. Rally wheels wrapped in Redline tires really set off the classic looks of this SS.

01. Few body styles have the sheer macho attitude of the ’67 Chevelle. Rally wheels wrapped in Redline tires really set off the classic looks of this SS.

02.Inside the car, everything is new, including the door panels and hardware. High-wear items like this just don’t last the ages, but luckily we have Year One and OPG to help remedy that problem.

02. Inside the car, everything is new, including the door panels and hardware. High-wear items like this just don’t last the ages, but luckily we have Year One and OPG to help remedy that problem.

03.The front seats and carpet look great. The stock buckets were recovered with new upholstery, but the console, gauges and the rest of the interior is original.

03. The front seats and carpet look great. The stock buckets were recovered with new upholstery, but the console, gauges and the rest of the interior is original.

04.The factory original Hurst shifter on the 4-speed makes this car fun to drive. Just dump the clutch and hammer the gas. Once the tires stop spinning, this car takes off like a rocket. Note the aftermarket underdash gauges, monitoring a factory original big block by the factory gauges is a touch risky, so these were added for accuracy.

04. The factory original Hurst shifter on the 4-speed makes this car fun to drive. Just dump the clutch and hammer the gas. Once the tires stop spinning, this car takes off like a rocket. Note the aftermarket underdash gauges, monitoring a factory original big block by the factory gauges is a touch risky, so these were added for accuracy.

05.The rear bench looks comfy with its fresh upholstery. Which side do you think Sean Penn sat on?

05. The rear bench looks comfy with its fresh upholstery. Which side do you think Sean Penn sat on?

06.The trunk is super clean. There was no rust in the trunk, but the original splatter paint was long gone. This is has been re-painted with Duplicolor splatter paint and then clear coated. While the clear is not original style, the splatter paint lasts longer and it makes it looks a little better.

06. The trunk is super clean. There was no rust in the trunk, but the original splatter paint was long gone. This is has been re-painted with Duplicolor splatter paint and then clear coated. While the clear is not original style, the splatter paint lasts longer and it makes it looks a little better.

07.Under the hood the factory 396 is detailed nicely. An alternator upgrade along with the Vintage Air A\C compressor are the only aftermarket pieces in here. The power disc brakes are factory originals.

07. Under the hood the factory 396 is detailed nicely. An alternator upgrade along with the Vintage Air A\C compressor are the only aftermarket pieces in here. The power disc brakes are factory originals.

08.A beautiful car will make any background look better. This 100-year old church in Ardmore, Oklahoma was the perfect setting for the SS. There is just something spiritual about the sound of a 396.

08. A beautiful car will make any background look better. This 100-year old church in Ardmore, Oklahoma was the perfect setting for the SS. There is just something spiritual about the sound of a 396.

09.A cost difference of only $500 was justification enough for consumers to purchase almost 59,000 more SS Chevelles over the base Chevelle 300. Even though they made 63,000 total, finding one in killer shape, like this one, is hard.

09. A cost difference of only $500 was justification enough for consumers to purchase almost 59,000 more SS Chevelles over the base Chevelle 300. Even though they made 63,000 total, finding one in killer shape, like this one, is hard.

10.The 396 big-block makes this car what it is. You had to order an SS to get it and it was worth every penny.

10. The 396 big-block makes this car what it is. You had to order an SS to get it and it was worth every penny.

11.Out back the bumper was rechromed to perfection and the rear tail valance is detailed just right. This is what most people got to see on the strip, just taillights.

11. Out back the bumper was rechromed to perfection and the rear tail valance is detailed just right. This is what most people got to see on the strip, just taillights.

12.Adding to the provenance of the car is the original rental agreement for the Chevelle to be used in a cemetery scene in the movie “Tree of Life”. The movie was released sometime in 2010, though it was filmed in 2008.

12. Adding to the provenance of the car is the original rental agreement for the Chevelle to be used in a cemetery scene in the movie “Tree of Life”. The movie was released sometime in 2010, though it was filmed in 2008.

13.No wonder the SS sold so many more than the base model, this is an incredible car with the performance to match. Super Sport, could there be a better name?

13. No wonder the SS sold so many more than the base model, this is an incredible car with the performance to match. Super Sport, could there be a better name?

Sources:

Red Line Auto Sports

http://www.redlineautosports.com/

About Jefferson Bryant (196 Articles)
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).

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