1968 Chevelle SS396 Vintage Drag Test!
Hot Rod|January 2021
As the lights come down, you squeeze the engine toward six grand, slide your leftfoot off the clutch, stab the loud pedal between the last yellow and the green, and bang!— 375 horses (a 425 Performance Rating via NHRA’s new system) launch you off the line for a near record run. Right? Wrong! At least that’s the way it was on every run we made with this month’s drag test vehicle, a ’68 Chevrolet SS396 Chevelle hardtop.”
Steven Rupp

Drew Hardin explained that Car Craft’s John Raffa was obviously frustrated while testing Chevy’s all-new A-Body at the Irwindale dragstrip in November 1967. That frustration boiled right to the surface in the paragraph above, which opened his Drag Test in the magazine’s Feb. ’68 issue.

“Oh, the horses are there all right (just witness that ‘drive-in idle’ of the L78 engine option), but somebody back in Detroit forgot to couple ’em up to the drivetrain in the properly prescribed quarter-mile manner; so instead of a clean break away from the line and solid punch from the green on, we got a big jump, then a letdown—like ‘Bog City.’”

Raffa’s assignment wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill driving impression. One of his goals was to determine “where the Chevelle fit into NHRA’s 1968 plans.” Mounting a set of 8-inch Casler slicks meant the test Chevelle “would have to be placed … in SS/D, while it would fall into A/S if prepared for the Stock classes.” New NHRA rules for 1968 classified Stocks, Super Stocks, and Sports cars using the “aforementioned Performance Rating method, not according to weight and advertised horsepower figures as in the past.”

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