Bill Pritchard spread the word among his many friends and acquaintances that he was looking for a late 1960s convertible as a “collector car” for his wife. He and his wife had been looking at various cars in northern Illinois before buying a 1969 Chevrolet Impala convertible. But within several months, a friend, believing the Pritchards were still in the market, told them his sister and brother-in-law had a black 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 convertible that might be available.
The 16-foot, 5-inch-long car had very low mileage, but since Pritchard had just bought the Impala he decided not to make an offer. Twenty years later, the Impala was long gone and Pritchard was searching for another car. He read about a nicely preserved car with less than 20,000 original miles.
“I went to the home,” Pritchard says, “and asked if he would consider selling it.” The owner replied, “Yes, but you won’t give me what I want for it.”
Pritchard asked to see the Chevelle anyway. When the garage door opened, exposed was what appeared to be a dusty, but very solid car. Pritchard went home to think it over.
“I gave it a lot of thought,” Pritchard says before making a good offer. “He accepted and I took the car home,” Pritchard says.
The 3,300-pound Chevy made the 5-mile trip on 14-inch wheels supporting a 112-inch wheelbase. The Chevelle had the 325-horsepower SS 396 package with front-disc brakes, an automatic transmission, bucket seats, floor console, power steering, AM radio, black vinyl upholstery, and a white vinyl top with a glass rear window.
A cursory inspection revealed the only non-original appearing items on the car to be dual-stripe whitewall tires, Holley aluminum valve covers, a blue distributor cap, orange silicone spark plug wires, and chrome spark plug wire loom brackets. Radiator hoses, heater hoses, and clamps had also been replaced with aftermarket items. The original valve covers were in the trunk, inside the box that the Holley pieces came in.
“The owner had pointed out to me before I purchased the car that the original radio speaker had become inoperative, so a replacement had been installed,” Pritchard says. “Again, the original speaker was retained in the car’s trunk.”
The Chevrolet “Protecto-Plate” warranty card in the car listed the original owner’s name and date of purchase as 1-17-69. “The name was the married name of a girl that I grew up with,” Pritchard says. He telephoned her, identified himself and told her of his recent purchase. “The original owner and her husband live two blocks from me in North Aurora, Ill.,” a flabbergasted Pritchard says. The original owner told Pritchard she drove the Chevelle until the gasoline crisis in 1973 when it was parked for about five years, until the second owner took it home and in more than two decades added fewer than 2,000 miles.
Pritchard has returned the car to its original state and, after tender loving care with a lot of elbow grease, has brought back to life a beautiful black Chevelle.