Grady Burch’s Super-Rare 396 Chevelle 300 Deluxe SS

By Richard Prince – Photography by the Author

In 1969, for the first and last time, Chevrolet offered an SS 396 option package called RPO Z25 for Chevelles. Both before and after 1969 the SS 396 was a distinct Chevelle series, and it was available only with V-8 Malibu sport coupes, convertibles, or El Caminos. In 1969, one unique aspect of option Z25 was that it could be had with any model, including the bare-bones V-8 300 Deluxe series two-door coupe and two-door sport coupe.

There were only two logical reasons for anyone to buy a Chevelle 300 Deluxe: first, all else being equal, it cost less than other Chevelles, and second, it was considerably lighter than other Chevelles. Both of these attributes resulted from less content. The 300 Deluxe model got rubber floor mats in place of carpeting, less sound insulation, bare-bones bench seats, and no trunk mat. Everyone knows that lower mass directly correlates to faster speed, so buyers who wanted the fastest Chevelle possible combined the relatively lightweight 300 Deluxe with the SS 396 option package, and then specified option L78, which was the highest horsepower version of the 396 engine available. And that’s exactly what the original buyer of this stunning Dusk Blue 300 Deluxe sports coupe did.

Chevrolet produced slightly more than a half-million Chevelles in 1969, and the vast majority—some 300,886—were Malibu two-door sport coupes. Only 7,181 of the half-million-plus 1969 Chevelles were 300 Deluxe sports coupes, and of these it’s likely that fewer than 100 were fitted with the SS 396 package, and fewer still came with the potent L78 engine.

It was this incredible rarity, and the car’s Dusk Blue hue, that caught Grady Burch’s eye when he first saw the car in a friend’s garage. Grady is no stranger to über-rare Chevrolet muscle cars and just happens to have a gorgeous, 29,000-mile, unrestored, Dusk Blue, 427 COPO Chevelle in his collection. “As soon as I saw the 300 Deluxe, I thought it would look great next to my Dusk Blue COPO,” Grady says. “The fact that it is such a rare car and still has its original paint and original interior added to its appeal.”

Grady had to wait a few years before his pal was ready to sell, but when the call came in 2013 he didn’t hesitate. Interestingly, the car was sold new in Canton, Ohio, by a well-known, performance-oriented dealer called Ewing Chevrolet to a recently returned Vietnam veteran who had more than his fair share of fun racing the car at local tracks. After he sold it in the ’90s, the car ended up in a doctor’s hands in Arizona. The doctor subsequently sold it to Grady’s pal, who also lived in Arizona. Grady bought it in Arizona, where he habitually spends parts of the winter, but eventually brought it back home to Ohio.

“The car ran great and really needed nothing,” Grady recalls. “But it had been returned to its stock appearance and I wanted to put it back to the way it was when it raced, with some Day Two mods from the era. So, I installed Cragar SS wheels and period-appropriate tires, a Sun tach, Stewart-Warner gauges, and a cowl plenum air cleaner assembly. The air cleaner is incredibly rare, and I managed to buy a mint, unrestored example still with its original Chevy box!”

Grady has displayed his super-rare 300 Deluxe at various shows, but has thus far resisted driving it. “It has only 9,015 total miles and I don’t want to add anything to that,” he explains. “I want to be a good caretaker and preserve it as it is.” But then, with a twinkle in his eye, he adds, “I don’t want to risk anything by putting it on the street, but I can see myself doing a few passes with the car at some point. That would be a lot of fun!”

TECH CHECK

Owner: Grady Burch, Hinckley, Ohio
Vehicle: 1969 Chevelle 300 Deluxe

Engine
Block: L78, cast-iron block
Displacement: 396 ci
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Bore: 4.094 inches
Stroke: 3.760 inches
Cylinder Heads: Cast iron, Chevrolet cast #3919840
Intake & Exhaust Valves: 2.19-inch steel intake, 1.72-inch steel exhaust
Rotating Assembly: Chevrolet forged steel crankshaft, Chevrolet drop-forged steel connecting rods, Chevrolet impact-extruded aluminum pistons

Valvetrain
Camshaft: Chevrolet solid lifter, 0.5197/0.5197 lift, 242/242 duration at 0.050
Rocker Arms: Chevrolet stamped steel, 1.70:1 ratio

Induction
Intake Manifold: Chevrolet cast aluminum
Carburetor: Holley 780-cfm four-barrel
Air Cleaner: Chevrolet cowl plenum

Ignition
Ignition Wires: AC Delco
Ignition: Chevrolet

Exhaust
Headers: Chevrolet cast-iron exhaust manifolds
Horsepower and Torque (at crank): 375 hp at 5,600 rpm, 415 lb-ft torque at 3,600 rpm

Drivetrain
Transmission: Muncie M22 close-ratio four-speed
Clutch Assembly: Unknown
Rear Axle: Chevrolet 12-bolt, 4.10:1 Positraction

Chassis
Front Control Arms: Chevrolet F41 with special lower arms (PN 399059/3990510)
Subframe: Chevrolet
Front Antisway Bar: Chevrolet F41 (PN 402544), 1.25-inch diameter
Front Springs: Chevrolet F41 (PN 3953834/3952825), 390 lb/in rate springs
Rear Suspension: Chevrolet F41, boxed lower control arms (PN 3937877), reinforced upper left control arm (PN 478276), frame stiffeners (PN 3918061/3918062)
Rear Antisway Bar: Chevrolet F41 (PN 394926) 0.875-inch diameter
Rear Springs: Chevrolet F41 (PN 3952833), 160 lb/in rate springs

Brakes
Master Cylinder: Delco dual reservoir
Front Rotor: Chevrolet 11-inch vented
Caliper: Chevrolet D52 type, single 2.935-inch piston
Rear Drum: Chevrolet 9.5 inch

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Cragar SS 15×6, front; Cragar SS 15×8, rear
Tires: Firestone Deluxe Champion 6.70×15, front ; M&H Racemaster slicks 10.65-15, rear

Interior
Front Seat: Chevrolet
Rear Seat: Chevrolet, original
Upholstery Material: Original vinyl
Dash: Chevrolet, original
Instrumentation: Chevrolet, original with Sun Super Tach and Stewart-Warner water temperature and oil pressure gauges
Safety Belts: Chevrolet, original
Door Panels: Chevrolet, original vinyl
Steering Wheel: Chevrolet, original
Audio System: Chevrolet, original Delco AM

Exterior
Body Modifications: None
Paint: Original, Dusk Blue
Hood: Original SS 396
Bumpers: Original

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