Q: Greg, I bought a butternut yellow 1967 Chevelle SS a few years ago that had a 350 small block crate motor in it. However, it does have all the correct SS396 badges inside and out. After doing some research, I read that the SS Sport Coupes came with 396/325hp engine. So I went ahead and bought a 1967 396/325hp engine and put it in. My car does have a 12 bolt rear, too, which the 396 had from the factory.

I was at a car show recently and several people told me my car was not an original, although it was a very nice clone. How can I tell if my car is an original SS396 or not? It has a Muncie 4 speed in it but originally came with an automatic on the column I am told. They checked my VIN number and said it was not a 396. What should I look for in the VIN number? Thank you. Charlie, Maryland.

A: Charlie, there are several situations you list here, but it sounds like your Chevelle is not an original 396. The 1967 Chevelle 2-doors and Malibu Sport Coupes came with everything from an inline 6-cylinder to a small block V8 to the optional SS396 big block, the latter in the Malibu line. However, only the 396 Chevelle came with the badges and SS moniker. Additionally, the 396 engine was an option on the ElCamino in '67, but that year's ElCamino did NOT have SS badges. The 396 ElCaminos did have the side engine 396 emblem, however, but that was it.

As for the 12 bolt rear, all SS396 Chevelles did come with 12-bolt rears, but so did many other models, too. So you can rule the rear out as an indicator.

The best way to identify a true SS396 Chevelle in 1967 is the VIN number, which starts with the numbers 13817 for SS396 coupe and 13867 for the SS396 convertible. The other Chevelle 2-door VINs go from 13111 to 13680, of which yours falls in here somewhere and I would bet my last dollar it starts with 136. Also, bucket seats, 4-speed transmission and a gauge package were optional. Engines in the 1967 Chevelle line ranged from two inline six cylinders to a 283 V8, 327 V8 and 396 V8.

Since all factory original 1967 Chevelle SS396's and the ElCamino 396 start with a VIN of 138, you are most likely the proud owner of a great looking and fine performing clone.

(Greg Zyla writes a syndicated weekly auto column on collector cars. Write him at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848 or email him at extramile_2000@yahoo.com)