Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I tell if my (69 thru 72) El Camino is an SS or not?

A: First off, 1968 is the only year one can tell if an El Camino is a true SS396 by the VIN. The 1968 model year was the first and only year to offer the SS396 El Camino as a specific series and model and can be identified by the VIN beginning with 138808xxxxxxx. For the model years 1969 through 1972 the SS options Z15 and Z25 were just that, options, and are not reflected in the VIN but were only available with the Malibu/Custom El Camino series, 13680xxxxxxxx.

The 1972 model year is the only exception to this because 1972 changed the structure of the VIN itself with the change to include the specific engine with a letter in the VIN. For 1972 the appearance of the letter "W" as the 5th character of the VIN, such as 1D80W, indicates the LS5 454 engine and this engine could only be ordered with the Z15 SS option.

For 1969 through 1971 El Caminos it's a bit more complicated. 

  • The 1969 model year only had the Z25 SS396 option. There is nothing in the VIN to indicate this option.  ne needs some sort of paperwork showing the El Camino's VIN and the Z25 option being ordered, a Protect-O-Plate showing the El Camino's VIN and an appropriate engine code for one of the various 396 engines, or an original stamped engine block with the correct VIN derivative stamped on the engine pad or rough cast area by the oil filter. One 'clue' for 1969 was the presence of the paint code 72 or 76 on the Fisher Body Number plate (trim tag). These two colors were only available as optional colors on SS396 optioned Chevelles in 1969. Any Chevelle could be ordered in either of these colors but would have been ordered under RPO ZP3 or special paint and the trim tag would show either the DuPont mixing formula for the color (such as 926-99616 for Hugger/Monaco Orange or 926-99568 for Daytona Yellow),  a Fleet & Special Order (F&SO) code after the body date, or a dash character (-) in lieu of the 2-digit number.
  • The 1970 model year introduced the Z15 SS454 option. The same applies to the 1970 model year as for the 1969 model year described above - paperwork.  One additional 'clue' to the El Camino being an SS-optioned pickup is the presence of the 3 round gauge pod as opposed to the linear dash carrier. See the gauges page for more specifics.
  • The 1971 model year confused things a bit more. Gone was the Z25 SS396 option code and the Z15 option code was now simply an SS Equipment option code and not an SS454 option. For the 1971 model year, the SS option could be ordered with ANY OPTIONAL V8 engine and transmission. This means the L65 350-2, L48 350-4, LS3 402, and LS5 454 could all be ordered with the SS option. Additionally, three of the four optional V8 engines (the 454 being the exception) could be ordered without the SS option as well so a matching engine stamp with the VIN derivative or Protect-O-Plate with VIN and engine code