Just like the 1967 SS427, the 1968 Impala SS427 did not include the name "Impala" anywhere on the body. It was very distinguishable from a standard Impala or Impala Super Sport in several ways. The most identifying features of the SS427 were its special louvered fenders and sports styled hood with a chrome insert near the base of the windshield. Both of these features were SS427 only.
Due to its low production numbers, the 1968 Impala SS427 is without a doubt one of the rarest Chevrolet Super Sports of all time. Of the three year run of the Impala SS427, it was the poorest selling SS427. However, thanks to several cosmetic differences between it and a standard Impala, 1968 is also quite probably the hardest of the three years to fake or clone. For most people, the adventure of finding all the correct parts is both too time consuming and way too costly.
Most of the external features of the 1968 SS427 are illustrated through the following pictures and text, but as I said on the opening page, there are some secrets that must remain secret. Click on any of the images for a better look.
Ask any owner of a 1968 SS427 what the most common question they hear about their car is and they will probably tell you something along the lines of questions dealing with the authenticity of the fender louvers. The front fender on a 1968 SS427 included the three body-colored louvers just behind the front wheel opening. These louvers really make the SS427 distinguishable from a basic Impala.
I have seen pictures of a few examples where these louvers were left in an unfinished, metallic appearance that really looks sharp. If you read the section in the dealer's brochure that describes the SS427 (shown further below in detail), it refers to "bright metal front fender ornaments." This gives the reader the impression that these louvers were not the body color. My 1968 SS427 convertible is pictured to the top and far left. The car's previous owners swear up and down that is how the car was delivered when new; with the unpainted louvers. Another mystery!
Interestingly enough, the 1968 SS427 used three different styles of side-marker light emblems, commonly known as "early" and "late" production emblems. The emblem shown on the white car is what is known as "early" production, using what appears to be a foil "SS427" emblem.
The one on the black car is an example of "late" production, using an actual "427" emblem cast right into the bezel itself. This emblem is the most common and came on any full-size Chevrolet ordered with the 427 engine. This vehicle is also a good way to illustrate the type of wheel covers that were used when the front disc brakes and 15 inch wheels were ordered, but not the added-cost rally wheels. The picture above and to the center shows this style of wheel cover.
The 427 emblem on the blue car is an example of a third type of marker bezel that I had only seen once before, on a 427 powered 1968 Caprice. Until I came across this blue 1968 SS427, I hadn't seen this type of bezel on an SS427 Impala. It is similar to the "late" production emblem on the black car except is uses a reddish background.
I have heard in the past that this type of emblem was used only on Canadian built SS427s, and indeed the blue car with the red 427 emblem was a Canadian car. Of the three, I personally think the foil "SS427" emblem is the most unique and distinguishing. Chevrolet should have stuck with that emblem exclusively for SS427!
Also of interest to the 1968 SS427 is the correct color of the Chevrolet emblem installed on the front header panel, just above the grille. Currently there are two such emblems being reproduced, one being blue and the other one red. Until recently, it was always my belief that only the blue Chevrolet emblem had ever made it into production, and never the red one. That may still very well be the case, as every legitimate 1968 SS427 I have ever seen has had the blue emblem, regardless of production date or variant of the 427 engine installed. All of the Chevrolet publications of that era show the SS427 with the blue emblem in this area, and every owner I have talked to whose SS427 has the red emblem has admittedly replaced the blue emblem because the red one simply looks better on dark paint.
However, pictured above and in the center is an image taken from a quick reference parts catalog from early in the 1968 production year. It shows that there were two separate emblems with different part numbers in the works, one being SS427 only. It certainly is possible then that several early 1968 SS427 Impalas were built with this red emblem from the factory. When it became clear that this red emblem was a low production item, it may very well have been cut from the list of parts and the blue emblem then used exclusively on all the big Chevys. It is anybody's guess, but this information does support the fact there there was at one point plans to use a separate red header emblem for the SS427.
This small bowtie emblem is the only place on the body of an SS427 that you will find any type of "Chevrolet" emblem.
The grille on a correct SS427 should have the vertical grille bars blacked out, allowing for the SS427 emblem to stand out very nicely. The Chevrolet sales brochure for 1968 indicates that the SS427 included "black painted vertical grille bars." I have, however, seen one documented 1968 SS427 that did not have this specially painted grille from the factory.
Despite the fact that the picture above and to the center shows an all-white "SS427" emblem, Chevrolet only used a single emblem with only one part number to decorate the trunks of the 1968 SS427. Whether this emblem was painted by the factory this way or by an owner at some point, only one part number was used. In the same sense, Chevrolet did not use an all-red "SS427"emblem on the trunks of white cars. I must admit though, that the all-white emblem looks really nice on the red trunk.
As it was in 1967, the 1968 SS427 Impala had its own special hood. The 1968 hood featured an almost "layered" effect and included a chrome insert near the base of the windshield.
One of the biggest debates I know of concerning the 1968 SS427s, or any 1968 Impala for that matter, is the availability of factory-installed retractable headlamp covers. The 1968 full sized assembly manual does actually show this option (RPO T-83) as being available on all the 15-16000 series models, but one must remember that this was the first year for this option and that the drawing in that manual was released well in advance of actual production. Adding fuel to the fire is a page in that same assembly manual that actually shows retractable headlamps listed under the Z-24 option, which can be seen by clicking on the the image above and second from the left. I have heard in the past that this option was either to be included with or optional on the 1968 SS427s, and this page does bear evidence that there may have been plans to do so at some point. If including the hide-away lights with the SS427 package was a consideration , it quite probably was canceled before production started.
Also shown above are three pages from the Canadian version of General Motors' 1968 pocket facts pamphlet. These pages clearly show the RPO T-83, Retractable Headlamp Covers, as being Caprice only. I decided to post this information here since it seems there is also a debate that the Canadian Impalas could receive this option. The thumbnails above are linked to images that are much larger and may take some time to download, but they are from a very rare document and I felt they should be included.
Every piece of literature I have ever read says this option was Caprice only, including the 1968 dealers order form and the 1968 Chevrolet sales brochure. There is no mention of the retractable head lamps as being available on or included with the SS427 in any of Chevrolet's publications, whether US or Canadian. I have never seen a documented 1968 Impala that had this option installed from the factory, but that hardly means it wasn't possible. I do believe that this option was indeed supposed to be Caprice only, and that most of the 1968 Impalas I have seen this way are not authentic. However, I also believe that it certainly is possible that several 1968 Impalas were built with this option, since a paying customer could get almost anything they wanted back then. To find a vehicle so equipped with the documentation to back it up would indeed be an eye opening experience.