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Chevrolet Super Sport – Classic Muscle Car Review

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Written by Elise

9th December 2020

Chevrolet Super Sport – Classic Muscle Car Review
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Chevrolet Super Sport – Classic Muscle Car Review

By Charlotte Iggulden

Super: Latin (preposition and v. prefix) meaning above, beyond, or in addition to an especially high degree; akin to Greek hyper.

Before Louis-Joseph Chevrolet (1878-1941) co-founded the eponymous car manufacturing company, he was a mechanic, car designer and race car driver. You would not be wrong in saying performance runs in a Chevy muscle car’s veins. 


This is our classic Chevrolet SS review on the Super Sport package.

The Super Sport badge first appeared in December 1956 when Chevrolet’s C1 Corvette Super Sport was revealed, before being made available in ‘57 as the custom-built race car, the Chevrolet Corvette SS.

The inaugural Chevrolet Super Sport ‘kit’ was introduced in 1961 as a sports and styling package for a limited number of Chevy Impalas, Chevrolet’s full-size car from 1961-67 and their 409cid retort to Ford’s 390cid Galaxie. 

With its performance image and athletic animal logo, the Chevy SS looked the part of a muscle car, and with its thunderous V8 engine it sounded like one. The racing driver and engineer Dan Gurney, thought his 409 could give the agile Jaguar MKII a run for its money at the British Saloon Car Championship and Silverstone, which it certainly did.

The limited availability SS badge has graced numerous Chevrolet models, from muscle cars to luxury vehicles and pickup trucks. After the Impala SS came the Chevy Nova II SS in 1962, then the Chevelle SS in 1964, followed in 1967 by the Camaro SS, previously referred to by its code name, XP836-Panther. The badge also appeared on the El Camino SS and the Monte Carlo SS

Ordering a tailor-made muscle car in the sixties, originally called ‘supercars,’ was understandably attractive. It was also an effective strategy during the drag-race wars at the time. Chevy sold the image of performance and street credibility with the option to upgrade their base models. 

The Super Sport package offered power-hungry muscle car fans various performance features such as increased horsepower, heavy-duty suspension, high-performance tires, multiple engine upgrades and race appearance.  Some engines were only available with the SS, making these cars extremely rare. 

Chevrolet Super Sport Specs 

Impala SS, 1961-69 

For just $53.80, the new SS kit gave the customer Super Sport trim for the exterior and interior, reinforced chassis, better suspension with stronger springs and shocks, power brakes, whitewall tires and upgraded engine. 

Out of 491,000 Impalas, 453 were Super Sports, with base 348cid 305 horsepower, 340hp or 350hp. 142 received the legendary 409cid V8, a larger displacement version of the 348 and faster; with 360hp and 409lb-ft torque at 3600rpm, it went from 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds, with a 15.8 second ¼ mile at 94.1mph. $2900. 1964-67 Impala SS’s were separate models with their own VIN prefix. 

There were nine engine choices between 1965-70. The 409cid would eventually make 425hp; it lasted until 1965 when it was succeeded by the 396cid Mark IV V8. In ‘67, 2,124 Impala SS cars were ordered with RPO Z24, a special performance package with increased suspension, 427cid engine and SS427 emblems. The SS was available as the Z24 in 1969, with 335-425hp 427cid V8.

Chevy II/Nova SS, 1963-76

The ’63 SS was a $161 trim option, with four and six-cylinder engines. The 283cid 195hp V8 was offered in 1964 and 327cid V8 in ‘65; the latter available in 1966 as 275hp or L79 350hp. With a high power-to-weight ratio, the ’67 Chevy II Nova SS 327cid was fast: 6.5 second acceleration, 14.9 second ¼ mile at 96.5mph, with 350hp at 5800rpm and 360lb-ft torque. 300 produced $3000. 

The SS 396cid became a performance option in ‘68. For $280, the 350cid 300hp was standard in 1969, alongside special suspension, power front discs and optional 396cid 350hp or 375hp L78 for $500. With 55% weight up front and big-block power, the Nova SS 396 went from 0-60 in 5.9seconds, 14.5sec ¼ mile at 101 mph. The SS badge continued to 1976.

Chevelle SS, 1964-73

Both the ‘65 Chevelle Malibu SS small and big block engines were hydraulic lifter versions of the Corvette, fitted to 200 hardtops and one convertible. The mandatory four-speed L79 327cid 365hp attained high 14s on the ¼ mile. Named ‘Rat Motor,’ ‘Porcupine’ and ‘Turbo-Jet,’ the semi-hemi 396 Z-16 package ($1,501) included a stronger frame, suspension, and faster power steering, with 375hp, 420lb-ft torque, 6-second acceleration and 14.66 second ¼ mile at 99.8 mph. 

The ’66 360hp L34 cost $105 but was slow on the strip. Its standard Chevelle brakes meant poor stopping and handling. The L78 396 was an updated Z-16 with the same horsepower and acceleration rate, but quicker quarter-mile. 3100 produced.

The 1967 SS 396 had improved handling and tires; its 325hp could be upgraded to L34, with 425lb-ft torque, 6.5 second acceleration and 15.3 second ¼ mile at 94 mph. 17,176 produced. The SS L78 returned in ‘68 as a separate model with a faster quarter mile. 4,751 produced. Its inadequate chassis meant the small-block 327cid Malibu was more popular, with better brakes. The SS was optional in ‘69, alongside the 375hp L78. 

After GM lifted its displacement ban, the 1970 Chevelle had a new optional $503 SS 454 package for hardtops and convertibles, including a 360hp ‘LS5’ hydraulic lifter. The LS6 had the highest horsepower rating for any production engine ever, with 450hp and 500lb-ft torque. It took 13.7 seconds on the ¼ mile at 103mph with a 6.1 second acceleration. 4,475 produced. 

Due to emissions standards and insurance surcharges in 1971, small blocks re-emerged, eventually becoming a trim option in 1973. The ’71 SS 454 was available as 350cid 245hp and 270hp or 402cid 300hp. The 454cid 425hp was not released, but the LS5 returned with Rock-Crusher Manual or Turbo Hydra-Matic, capable of 14.35 second ¼ mile at 97 mph, 6-second acceleration, 365hp and 465lb-ft torque. $4700. 9,502 produced. 

Camaro SS, 1967-72

First-generation Camaros were standard, rally sport and super sport. 

The RS SS package was available until 1972, reintroduced in 1996. Chevrolet’s ‘67 Camaro had instant ‘muscle credibility’ with its standard 295hp 350cid V8 only available with SS, 8 second acceleration and 15.4second quarter mile at 90mph. The 350 was the base engine for Z-28 street use due to FIA homologation rules. It had 81 different factory options plus 41 dealer-installed accessories, including better springs and shocks, wide oval tires, and sound insulation. 

Later that year, the SS396 325hp arrived with power discs and brakes, 410lb-ft torque, 6 second acceleration and 14.5 second ¼ mile at 99mph. Straight-sixes rode and handled better but were slower. The powerful 375hp L78 was listed as a dealer-installed option with standard manual transmission and optional automatic. 34,000 Super Sports sold for $3,700. 

The ‘68 Camaro SS included heavy-duty suspension and a standard 285hp 350cid for $210 on coupes and convertibles. The 325hp 396cid was an additional $52, and the 375hp L78 $240, with SS models accounting for 12% of Camaro’s sales. The popular SS 396 returned in ‘69. 

In August 1971, Road and Track assessed the ‘71 Camaro SS350 as one of the best cars in the world

Model Variations

The ’61 Impala SS kit was available on all Impalas, including four-door sedans and station wagons. The 1962 SS was an appearance package for hardtop coupes and convertible coupes with small and big-block engines; distinctive engine-turned aluminium housed the triple-unit taillights and side mouldings. ‘65 Super Sports looked the same as base models and became less decorated by 1967. 

The modest ‘63 Nova SS featured bucket seats and wheel covers, available on sport coupes and convertibles. The redesigned ’66 Nova was a two-door hardtop. Its ’67 incarnation had extra chrome, black-accented grille and trim. The ‘69 model had red stripe wheels, black grille and tail, artificial air intakes and power front discs.

Sales of the large Impala and small Nova decreased first after the introduction of the midsized Chevelle, then the Camaro.

The ’65 Chevelle SS had standard bucket seats and optional wood-grain steering wheel. ‘66 had a blackout grille and new hood with non-functional vents. The Chevelle SS became America’s most popular muscle car after 1968, with new styling and most two-door hardtops. The 1970 model had a domed hood and optional dorsal stripes with cowl induction hood; it shared its gauge cluster with the Monte Carlo.

The 1967 Camaro SS was a sport coupe or convertible, with special hood, and bumblebee stripe around the car’s nose. Many combined it with $105 rally sport package with hidden headlamps. The ‘68 SS had four decorative hood vents and blackout tail panel. The 1969 model had a standard non-functional hood, with optional new cowl-induction and rear-facing inlets.

After a deal with Vince Piggins at Chevrolet to convert SS 396 Camaros into 427cid, stock models were sent to Don Yenko’s dealership in ‘67, where he also installed decals and trim, including side and hood stripes with SC supercar emblems. He built 118 Camaros between ‘67-68.  He then made 427cid Chevelles, 99 with SS hoods. 

Appearances in Popular Culture

Impala SS
The Beach Boys expressed the popularity of Chevy’s V8 with their song lyrics, “She’s real fine, my 409.” The Impala has appeared in various TV shows like Supernatural, with the SS featuring in films like Jumanji (1995), 2 Guns (2013) and Straight Outta Compton (2015), alongside various rap music videos.

Chevelle SS

The classic 60s-70s Chevelle SS has featured in over 1600 films, including John Wick (2014 and 2017); Jack Reacher (2012); Drive Angry 3D (2011); The Fast and the Furious (2001), Fast and Furious (2009), and The Fate of the Furious (2017); The Other Guys (2010); War (2007); Talladega nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Dazed and Confused (1993) and Tales from the Crypt (1992).

Camaro SS

Aside from its modern counterpart starring in the Transformers franchise, the classic SS features in Charlie’s Angels (2000); Fast and Furious 6 (2013); and in the video games, Need for Speed: Heat; and Need for Speed: Payback.

Chevrolet Nova SS
Rumours suggest the ‘74 Nova SS will feature in upcoming Fast and Furious 9. One is also owned by singer Lady Gaga

Chevrolet Super Sport Car Review: A Summary

It is surprising what two simple letters can evoke.

Over the years, the SS or Super Sport package, whether performance or appearance oriented, has proven to be a lucrative sales tool for Chevrolet. Its limited production has guaranteed its desirability.

The SS made the chevy truly special, impacting popular culture both then and now.

Author: Charlotte Iggulden

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