There were two big changes for Chevrolet’s Chevelle in 1969. One of them was that the SS 396 was no longer a standalone model, and the other had to do with engine availability. This was the year that Super Sport became a $347 option package that could be added to any two-door Chevelle. The engines available in base-model Chevelles still included the 230ci and 250ci six-cylinder engines (140 and 150 horsepower respectively), and the 307ci V8 that put 200 horsepower under the hood.
This year, the 327ci engine was dropped from the lineup in favor of the 350ci engine. Depending on which box you checked on the order form, your 350ci engine delivered either 255 or 300 horsepower. All of these engines were available with the three-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, but the four-speed manual and three-speed automatic transmissions were an option.
Although Super Sport became an “option”, the 396ci engine packages were virtually the same as they were in 1968. The base 396ci engine was available with 325 horsepower, or the optional L34 396ci engine got you 350 horsepower (both had Rochester carburetors, 10.25:1 compression and two-bolt-main blocks). Stepping up a little meant that you could get the 375 horsepower L78 engine—again this year with an 11.0:1 compression ratio, solid-lifter camshaft, and a Holley four-barrel carburetor on an aluminum intake. Unlike in 1968, you could now order the L89 package 396ci engine. By doing so, you added $647.75 to the cost, but your 396ci engine received a pair of large valve aluminum cylinder heads.
All 396ci engines were available with chrome valve covers, but only the 350 and 375 horsepower models were equipped with an open-element air filter. The 325-horsepower engine used a black side-snorkel air cleaner with a chrome lid. However, when an automatic transmission was ordered, all engines were equipped with a closed air-cleaner assembly. In late 1969, Chevrolet increased the 396ci displacement to 402ci, but the 396 badging was left alone to retain the car’s brand image.
The big news for 1969 was the introduction of the 425 horsepower L72 427ci engine. This was only available as a Central Office Production Order. The L72 used a solid-lifter camshaft, cast-iron heads, and an aluminum intake manifold with an 800-cfm Holley carburetor. The Saginaw four-speed and the Rock Crusher manual transmissions were available, as was a Turbo 400 automatic.