Externally, there was very little to set the 1969 SS427 apart from a basic Impala, in total contrast to what Chevrolet engineers had done the two previous years. The 1967 SS427 had its special domed hood, SS427 grille and trunk emblems and its unique red cross-flags emblem on the front fenders. The 1968 SS427 also had a special hood, along with louvered fenders and SS427 emblems in several locations.
The 1969 cars were almost plain-Jane by comparison and most people would pass them by without giving them a second look. This total lack of "personality" put into the 1969 SS427 probably reflected Chevrolet's overall viewpoint of the full-size Super Sport. Unfortunately, this lack of distinguishing features also makes the 1969 cars the easiest of the three years of SS427 to fake. Accordingly, I have seen more phony 1969 SS427 Impalas than the other two years combined. Below are detailed pictures of correct vehicles, and a brief description of each. Click on any of the pictures for a better look.
1969 marked the first time that "Impala" actually appeared anywhere on the body of an SS427 and, depending on the body style, was found on one of two places. If the SS427 was ordered on the Custom Coupe body style, then the vehicle retained its "Impala Custom" emblem along the roof rail, just behind the rear passenger window. In addition, the Custom Coupe SS427 received a pair of stand-alone SS emblems on the front quarter panel, just aft of the front wheel opening. The two photos above are of Custom Coupe SS427 fender emblems and "Impala Custom" roof emblems.
The convertible and sport coupe models both received the "Impala" and "SS" emblems paired together, in the same fender location described earlier. All SS427 body styles received the nearly-impossible-to-see 427 emblem atop the two side marker lights. They were almost hidden from view, and an individual straining to make them out could very well hurt their eyes!
However, with all of that stated, I present to you viewers another example of there just being no rhyme, reason, or rule for anything when these cars were built. The picture above shows a 1969 Impala Custom Coupe SS427 with both the Impala front fender emblems and the Impala Custom roof rail emblems. The picture was scanned and sent in to me via e-mail so the quality is somewhat poor, but the picture sure looks to have been taken shortly after the car was delivered.
The SS427 grille received the traditional Super Sport treatment, being molded in black with chrome accents along every third bar. Centered in the middle of this grille was a very small, barely noticeable "SS" emblem that, were it not for the grille being blacked-out, would probably have blended right in with the rest of the grille assembly. This small "SS" emblem was unique to the 1969 SS427. Where as many Chevrolet Super Sports used interchangeable "SS" emblems, this particular emblem could only be found on the grille of a 1969 SS427.
Most of the 1969 SS427s that I have seen were built using the same grille as the Caprice did. The Caprice grille was a bit different than the rest of the big Chevys. The grille used on the 1969 Caprice featured two center bars with bright accents that stood out from the rest of the grille area. This seemed to vary from plant to plant as to how the Z24 cars were actually built, as many of the 1969 cars I've seen DO NOT have the bright-accented grille. It sure does look nice blacked out though! Some of the similarities between the 1969 Caprice and the 1969 SS427s are discussed a little further below.
Below the front bumper is another small strip of the grille assembly that also received the black and silver highlights. I have seen many 1969 Impalas adorned with the SS emblems that did not have the black and chrome features on the grille. This is by no means a way of identifying an impostor vehicle however. Over the course of 30 plus years, the grille on a legitimate vehicle could easily have been damaged and replaced, or simply never installed by the factory correctly.
The trunks that I have seen were decorated in one of two ways. Most of the 1969 SS427s that I have seen had both the "SS" emblem, centered just above the trunk keyhole, as well as the "Chevrolet" emblem located to the extreme right side and near the edge of the trunk. I have seen two legitimate vehicles that had just the "SS" emblem, for whatever reason I have no idea. The only thing I noticed about those two was that they were both produced late into the model year. A mid-production change?? I doubt it. More likely just another example of how completely different one car could be assembled from another back then. Who knows? Maybe somewhere along the line the car was repainted and the emblem was discarded for whatever reason.
As was mentioned in the 1968 exterior details section, the biggest debate I know of concerning the 1968 or 1969 Impala is the availability of hideaway headlights, an option presumed to be Caprice only (RPO-T83). Once again, the 1969 full sized assembly manual shows the available model numbers as all the 15-16000 series. Also in that same assembly manual, under the Z-24 option, it lists a revision referring to "retractable headlamps and assemble note revised", indicating that once again there may have been plans at some point to include the hidden headlamps with the SS427 option. This note is shown above and to the far left.
However once again, every other piece of literature lists the option as Caprice only, including the dealer order form, shown above and to the center. There is no mention of the retractable headlamp covers being included with or optional on the SS427 in any of Chevrolet's official documents or sales brochures. Yet every day it seems I run across pictures of a claimed-to-be-original 1969 Impala with the hidden headlights. In my mind, once again I believe it WAS possible that some were actually fitted with this option from the factory. I also believe, however, that most of the surviving 1969 Impalas that are fitted with the retractable light covers are also using non-original setups borrowed from a Caprice.
I have never seen or heard of a 1969 Impala factory equipped with this option, at least not one with the documentation to back it up. Again, that doesn't mean it wasn't possible, for as I said previously, anything seemed possible back then. Does anybody out there really know for sure? Maybe, but I am definitely not one of them. If anyone has a 1969 Impala so equipped with the documents to prove it, PLEASE let me know! The picture above and to the right is a 1969 Caprice fitted with the hidden headlights option.
Shown above is a 1969 Caprice to illustrate what I mentioned earlier about many 1969 SS427 Impalas that I have seen sharing some of the Caprice external features. To the left is shown the Caprice grille, featuring the "bright dual center bars" as described in the 1969 dealers manual. The picture to the left also shows the "bright outline molding" that accented the lower grille section on a 1969 Caprice. I have seen SS427 Impalas with this outline molding as well.
In the center is a nice view of the 1969 Caprice rear section. The Caprice used triple unit rear light assemblies, same as the Impala did. However, Caprice was adorned with "dual bright accents" on the tail lamps, as opposed to Impala which received tail lamps that had "single bright accents". Many 1969 Z24 cars that I have seen also used the same tail lamps as Caprice, the same "dual bright accents" tail lamps. My 1969 SS427 had them when I bought it in 1987, long before the days of cloning. Five of the six lamp units were beat up pretty bad, telling me they had been on the car for quite some time. Still, many 1969 Z24 cars that I have seen DO NOT have the Caprice style lamps.
The center picture also shows the bright deck lid molding that Caprice received, and is another trim item I have seen a few 1969 Z24 cars highlighted with. Look at the picture to the far right of a 1969 SS427 sent to me by a site visitor. You will notice the dual accent tail lamps and the bright trunk molding.
All of this seemed to vary from plant to plant. Not to mention, some of these items may have been added on by the car's owner. The only thing I noticed is that most, though not all, of the 1969 SS427 Impalas I have seen sharing the Caprice highlights were of the Custom Coupe body style. The Custom Coupe was very similar to the Caprice. Mysteries like this are what makes this hobby so enjoyable!