GM of Canada Built a Chevelle Malibu SS 396 with a 136 VIN Code
When talking about a Chevelle or Malibu SS, one of the things you’ve probably heard is that the surest way to identify it as genuine is to check the VIN number. The conventional wisdom states that a 138 VIN number means you’ve got a real Chevelle SS on your hands. Cars On Line has even touched on this subject as part of our How to Identify a Chevelle SS feature article. The use of the 138 VIN codes to identify an original Chevelle SS is so widely used, that the rumors of a 136 VIN Code 1966-1967 Chevelle Malibu SS 396 are often dismissed or disbelieved. As it turns out, if the Malibu was built by GM of Canada, you might want to take a second look.
While the United States pushed all SS production onto the 138 VIN of the 1966 Chevelle, GM of Canada introduced the SS “Super Sport” option to the existing 136 VIN code Malibu. Frank Agueci, a 24-year GM of Canada veteran and representative for Vintage Vehicle Services tells us that, strictly speaking, the “SS” option was coded as A51 and was mostly an appearance option. It meant you could get your 1966 Malibu with bucket seats, console, P01 wheel covers and even a 6-cylinder engine. In addition to the standard 194, 230, 283 2-barrel and 327 275-horsepower 4-barrel engines, buyers could select a 360-horsepower, Turbo-Jet 396 V8. Mike Crown of MysteryChevelle.com goes on to explain that the Canadian SS big block did not get the VIN stamped on the deck pad either. Only the assembly date makes an appearance, making identification of such vehicles that much harder.
The confusion rises from the difference in production and marketing methods used between the United States and Canada. The U.S. enjoyed a markedly higher production rate and decided to add the SS 396 option as its own model, under the 138 VIN code. GM of Canada continued to use the 136 VIN code regardless of options until a mid-year conversion in 1967. As a result, it’s quite possible to find a real 1966-1967 Chevelle Malibu SS 396. It all depended on what the individual buyer decided to order their car with, and it’s why modern-day collectors will have to do a lot of research to confirm the identity of one today.
Modern restoration efforts have made things even more difficult. With so few people realizing that the GM of Canada-built Chevelle Malibu SS exists, some restoration projects end up referencing the models produced in the United States, and devalue a rare Chevelle Malibu SS 396/360 with incorrect modifications.
If you are considering the purchase of what you believe is a rare GM of Canada-built Chevelle Malibu SS 396, or if you suspect what you thought was a clone to be one, you’d do well to invest some time in additional research. Services like Vintage Vehicle Services and Mike Crown’s books available at MysteryChevelle.com can help.