Classics Original Owners of This 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 Still Enjoy Their First New Car Almost 50 Years Later

00:05  02 january  2018
00:05  02 january  2018 Source:   HOT ROD

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“It was between that and a Gran Sport,” remembers John Ewart of the day in March 1969 when he and his new bride, Alice, went shopping for their first new car . “The Gran Sport was more money, so we went with the Chevelle .

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"It was between that and a Gran Sport," remembers John Ewart of the day in March 1969 when he and his new bride, Alice, went shopping for their first new car. "The Gran Sport was more money, so we went with the Chevelle. We were just married three months, didn't even have any furniture."

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A previous owner had installed new quarter-panels. The car was in such good condition that Richard did not want or need to strip it to do a frame-off restoration. Original Owners of This 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Still Enjoy Their First New Car Almost 50 Years Later .

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We like a guy who has his priorities straight.

John and Alice had been high school sweethearts, growing up in Queens Village, New York. They saved some cash to go towards the new car and put a $20 deposit on the model they wanted.

Now, some newly married couples might have saved a few bucks by opting for a Chevelle with a small-block V-8, or even the base six-cylinder. But as you can see by John's two choices, he wanted a performance car.

"I wanted the SS," he says. "I picked the car, she picked the colors," a striking combination of Tuxedo Black paint, black vinyl roof, and parchment upholstery.

There were some concessions to the couple's financial status. Super Sport Chevelles were available only with 396-inch big-block; and the Ewarts' car has the base, 325hp version instead of one of the more potent 350- or 375hp engines. The car is not heavily optioned, though it is nicely appointed, with the vinyl roof, an automatic transmission, and an AM/FM radio (with a rear speaker). It also came with the F41 special suspension, with higher-rate springs, heavy-duty shocks, and a rear sway bar.

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Original Owners of This 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Still Enjoy Their First New Car Almost 50 Years Later .

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The Ewarts still have their sales paperwork from Bay Chevrolet in Douglaston, New York. It lists the car's $3,546.90 final selling price, the couple's down payment, and the $100.97 that they would owe GMAC each month for the next three years. They also have the original Protect-O-Plate, warranty paperwork, and other documents typical of what would have been given to the Chevelle's first owners. They are, and remain, the car's sole owners 49 years and some 123,000 miles later.

010-ewart-1969-chevrolet-chevelle-ss396-side.jpg© Richard Prince 010-ewart-1969-chevrolet-chevelle-ss396-side.jpg

It was interesting that the sales paperwork was in Alice's name given John's strong preference for the SS. "She drove it," he tells us, "with car seats in the back seat. Both of our daughters, Christina and Dina, came home from the hospital in that car."

John drove a "40hp Volkswagen" to his job installing business telephone systems. "I actually had six of them in my yard at one time," he says, the Bugs used as parts cars to keep the daily-driven VW going.

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The Chevelle was Alice's transportation for some 10 years, until the 1970s gas crises took their toll. John says, "We went with something else, and parked it in my aunt's garage. When she passed it came back to our garage."

At similar points in their lives, many muscle car owners decide to part ways with their now-impractical cars. Why didn't the Ewarts? "Sentimental reasons," John explains. "We had just gotten married when we bought it, and I liked it, so we decided to keep it. Plus, we're of the old-school generation. Our house is a time capsule. We keep everything. I have my old Commodore 64, Game Boy, all the toys. And they still work. Why throw it away if it still works? My grandson was in the basement the other day and asked, 'What's that thing with a wheel on it?' I didn't know what he was talking about, so I asked him to bring it to me. It was a telephone."

John's mechanical talents weren't limited to the VW. Over the years he has kept the Chevelle running in top condition, replacing parts as needed and making a few upgrades, like changing the brake, fuel, and transmission lines to stainless steel. When the body started to show its age, he sent the car to his friend Bobby McIntosh, who had his own body shop. Bobby returned the body to as-new condition and performed a two-stage respray it in its original color.

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Originally a SS 396 car , the Dick Harrell treatment was given to this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro to beef-up its ability to race. Original Owners of This 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Still Enjoy Their First New Car Almost 50 Years Later .

Original Owners of This 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Still Enjoy Their First New Car Almost 50 Years Later .

John and Alice still drive the car, but sparingly now, a few hundred miles a year. Most of their trips are to local shows, where it has earned a number of awards. John keeps the car on a lift in his garage, and puts two covers on it during the winter.

"My wife says I take better care of the car than her," John says. "That's because the car don't talk back to me." He laughs. "We kid each other. We have been married almost 50 years. "

It takes that kind of light but loving touch to keep a marriage alive for five decades. You could say the same thing for owning a Chevelle SS for that long.

At a Glance

1969 Chevelle SS396

Restored by: Owner; McIntosh Auto Body, Middle Island, NY

Engine: 396ci/325hp L35 V-8

Transmission: TH400 3-speed automatic

Rearend: 12-bolt with 3.73 gears and Positraction

Interior: Parchment vinyl bucket seat

Wheels: 14x7 SS

Tires: F70-14 Firestone Wide Oval (Coker reproduction)

Special parts: AM/FM radio, front and back speakers, special performance suspension (RPO F41)

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