'70-'72 SS "396" question - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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'70-'72 SS "396" question

Why is it that '70-'72 Chevelles which came with a 402 engine were still called "SS396" ? Why didn't they simply called them "SS402" instead?

Claude.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 1:14 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

I think 1970 was the only 70-72 called "SS396". I don't think you'll find "SS396" in any 71-72 literature. Just "SS" and "SS454".
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 1:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

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Originally Posted by novadude View Post
I think 1970 was the only 70-72 called "SS396". I don't think you'll find "SS396" in any 71-72 literature. Just "SS" and "SS454".
Thanks for your reply but... wasn't the name "SS396" used from '65 and up?Öand why no "SS402" instead of just "SS"?

Claude.

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 1:50 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

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Originally Posted by toofastforyou View Post
Thanks for your reply but... wasn't the name "SS396" used from '65 and up?Öand why no "SS402" instead of just "SS"?

Claude.
I believe I read it was because of the amount of money GM spent promoting the SS396 for several years, and it didn't make sense to spend new money to advertise SS402 for 1 year.


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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 2:00 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

Consider also that SS396 was the "top dog" in the Chevelle line-up in 66-69. Starting in 1970, the "SS454" was the new "king". The 454 wasn't ready when the '70 Chevelles were launched, so maybe that's why the "SS396" hung on for one more year? Just speculation.

I really don't know why they felt the need to add 6 ci to the 396 in the last 3 years of production, but I suspect it had something to do with emissions regs maybe? There is no real practical reason for increasing the bore size unless it had some regulatory advantage. Again... just speculation.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 2:19 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

Although I have no supporting evidence, I believe insurance companies slapped a heavier premium on engines over 400 cubes at that time... ??
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 3:11 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

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Originally Posted by fastss396man View Post
I believe I read it was because of the amount of money GM spent promoting the SS396 for several years, and it didn't make sense to spend new money to advertise SS402 for 1 year.

And when they became 402's in 69 they already had so much stuff already printed, they just changed the suffix code from two digits to three digits.

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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 4:59 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

OK, Put on your thinking KAP? GEE ........ MOPARS had the " 383" Ford had the " 390 " Chevy had the " 396 ". Is the picture clearing up a bit?
Any chance the Ins. Co. did not want to see a car with the Hp. to weight ratio......... Step over 400 Cu. In.
I would guess the Big Three made some " Donations " to someone???? Then all hell brakes loose with engine sizes.. 440,,426 max wedge, 426 hemi.
thunderchicken engines 406, 427, SOHC, and the 402, 454, 455 buicks. And the beat goes on !
Let the Hp. WARS begin!
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 5:33 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

Like previously stated in so many words, it was all about marketing.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 19, 6:31 PM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

There was panache attached to the SS396 moniker beginning in 1965. That started the era of big engines in mid sized cars. The bigger the better as far as the muscle car buyers were concerned. It was the largest engine offering until 1970.

For 1970 GM was still trading on that identity while it introduced the 454. Even though in late 1969 the engines were actually 402 cid they stuck to their marketing.

In 1971 they introduced a small block in the SS. They abandoned the SS396 adornments because they were no longer 396s; 454s were the top engine option and marketing priority and to not discredit the small block SS by not giving it its own class too. There can only be one top dog!

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 19, 12:09 AM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

My understanding is that the 396 was so well known that they wanted to call the 402 an SS396 to continue with that highly recognizable branding instead of making people think it was something new. Other than an extra .030" bore they were pretty much the same. There were some 402s labeled as 402, but not the SS.
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 19, 5:30 AM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

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Like previously stated in so many words, it was all about marketing.
Yup, that same reason that Chevrolet and GMC trucks roll off the same line for decades. Brand loyalty and advertising, even though eliminating one of the two would reduce manufacturing cost. Even when GM reorganized and dropped some brands, they could not kill off the Chevrolet truck to be exclusively a GM product. The truck line would make sense.

PS - How stupid was it not to play up the 50th anniversary of 55-57 Chevrolets. They even made a prototype Nomad for 2005 but didn't follow through.
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 19, 5:39 AM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

How about a tangent? What about the middle orphan, the 402 BBC that came in the non-SS Malibu 400s, that were badged "Malibu 400"? New "400" emblems why not "402"? Somewhat confusing with the release of the SBC 400 at the same time.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 19, 6:32 AM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

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Originally Posted by zookpr View Post
How about a tangent? What about the middle orphan, the 402 BBC that came in the non-SS Malibu 400s, that were badged "Malibu 400"? New "400" emblems why not "402"? Somewhat confusing with the release of the SBC 400 at the same time.
I always thought those were a small block. What about the 1970 Monte Carlo with 400?

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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 19, 8:30 AM
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Re: '70-'72 SS "396" question

The bigger question is why did the 396 become a 402 in the first place? I've never seen any credible reason for the minor change in displacement. Did it have something to do with how emissions were regulated for 400ci+ engines vs. smaller displacement engines?
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