In 1969, the SS 396 model was eliminated from the Chevelle lineup; however, the 396 could be added to any two-door model Chevelle as a $347 package (boy, those were the days). It could be had with the 325, 350, or 375 hp version. Later in the year, reportedly to meet emission standards, the 396 was bored to 402ci, though the official name never changed. That means for a lucky few that bought their Chevelles later in the year, had somewhat of a sleeper on their hands with more under the hood than the car’s badging led others to believe.
Bob Brethauer was one of the lucky guys in high school who had a 1969 Chevelle SS. Bob said, “They didn’t know who I was, but they knew my car.” Some of you probably recall those couple guys from high school who had the hot rods we longed after. You didn’t know their name, but you knew the car as it laid rubber leaving school on Fridays.
Somewhere along the way, Bob parted ways with his Chevelle from high school, but regretted it immediately like most of us do. For twenty years he sought after the perfect Chevelle that would give him that nostalgic feeling of cruising in high school. Some seven years ago, Bob found the perfect candidate to build his high school Chevelle.
As with most used cars we purchase, they’re rarely exactly how we want them, but the car was in good shape to build Bob’s dream Chevelle. The stock engine was pulled and a Chevrolet Performance 454 was put in its place. As if 500 lb-ft of torque isn’t enough, Bob added Hooker Competition headers and a 750 cfm dual feed carb to really open up the big block. A mild cam was added to fully utilize the flow of the carb, and in the process, roller tip rockers. With that setup, and the curb weight of the car, we would expect a low 12-second quarter-mile – definitely a fast car for the streets.
With all of that torque, Bob opted to add line lock, or as he calls it, “roll control” which is actuated by that little red button on the console, for some fun on the street and track. A TH400 with Gear Vendors Under/Overdrive was thrown behind the 454 - a perfect companion for cruising to local drive-ins. For the suspension, horseshoes were used in the rear to raise the car achieving the stance Bob’s car had in high school. Up front, a custom chrome sway bar was installed for a bit of splash and to reduce body roll.
Outside, the Chevelle is flawless. Bob’s car in high school was Dusk Blue, so he had his present Chevelle as closely matched to the original as possible. The wheels are stock, and the brakes were restored to stock specs for the ultimate in original driving feel. Inside, the Chevelle sports a refurbished black leather interior that looks as if it just rolled off the assembly line. That’s one of the many great characteristics of Chevelles, the interiors look great as-is.
At all times, Bob keeps a stack of original polaroids of his Chevelle from high school to complete his story when talking with admirers. It’s a true testament to “what’s old, is new again”. It’s clear Bob’s inspiration for the build was for the nostalgic feeling of driving around in a big block, Dusk Blue, ‘69 Chevelle from his high school days, and this time, he’s not getting rid of it saying, “It’s not for sale.”
Check out all the specs on Bob’s car below, and comment if you, or a friend you know, has a car that has what it takes to be a Feature Car on TheBLOCK.
Name: Bob Brethauer
Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan
Year/Make/Model: 1969 Chevelle SS
Color: Dusk Blue
Engine: Chevrolet Performance 454ci
Transmission: TH400 with Gear Vendors Under/Overdrive
Suspension: “Horseshoes in rear to raise. Chrome sway bar.”
Brakes: Original sized front discs, and rear drums.
Wheels & Tires: Factory Rallye wheels, BFGoodrich Radial T/As
Interior Mods: Line lock (“roll control”), Chevrolet Performance cup holder
Performance Upgrades: Chevrolet Performance 454, Hooker Competition headers, mild cam, roller tip rockers, 750 cfm dual feed carb.
Horsepower: 425 hp/500 lb-ft
Quarter-Mile: 12.42 seconds @ 108.81 mph (EST)
Favorite Aspect of the Car: “The nostalgic feeling I get when driving it. In high school, they didn’t know who I was, but they knew my car.”
Can we eat in your car? “No.”
Dream Car: “You’re lookin’ at it. And no, it’s not for sale.”
Anyone you would like to thank: “Well, you gotta thank your wife. Well, and my son. He helped me pick it up.”