Buying things as a working adult has caused me to more carefully assess the idea that quality is often more important than a greater quantity of lesser goods or services I could purchase for the same amount of money. Sometimes, I feel like dining out at a pizzeria where greater attention to ingredients, preparation, and overall flavor and atmosphere of the venue itself are all of paramount importance. Just as often, though, I’d be happy with a lot of decent pizza (some of which I can chuck into the refrigerator for later consumption) for less money than a nicer pie. It’s often the same scenario on one of my occasional treks out to a favorite vintage vendor on the lookout for something cool to bring home with me. It was at the Vintage Garage, formerly held in the southern end of my Chicago neighborhood, that I saw our featured car while on my way in.
Seeing this beautiful Chevelle convertible, in one of my all-time favorite generations of this storied model, certainly put me in the correct, “retro” mood to go shopping. (I’m sure that was the point behind someone having parked this red beauty at the entrance gate of the former venue of the Vintage Garage.) This monthly flea market-type event has since moved north to nearby Evanston, scheduled now to meet just three times this year, on the third Sunday of May, July and September, but I’m glad to know the market is still going strong after having moved from this location. All kinds of things are sold there – clothes, furnishings, records, gadgets, fixtures, etc. Simply browsing, even without buying, is a great way to spend an hour or so.
I usually try to go into these events with the intent of finding that one, really cool treasure. The reality is that I’m just as often tempted to purchase a well-made, same-era knockoff that serves the same function as an authentic, “name brand” piece. I’ve had a molded fiberglass chair from the ’60s made in the idiom of the famous Eames chair for a couple of decades now. Maybe my guests have all been kind, but no one has seemed to notice that it’s not the real thing. It serves basically the same purpose, both functionally and aesthetically.
While this Chevelle had the lower section of its body painted black and the correct wheels exclusive to the SS 396 models, it also lacks the stripes and “SS” badge on the rear panel. With only 2,286 Chevelle SS 396 convertibles produced for ’68, my money is on this one being a tribute. This car may well be one of the 7,794 Chevelle Malibu convertibles produced for the model year… but who really cares? I honestly don’t. I might care less about numbers-matching authenticity if the style, look, quality and function are all there. Does this Chevelle go? Is the top watertight? That might be all that matters. Given the overall, relatively scant production numbers for the ’68 Chevelle convertible in general, this one is still a vintage treasure – whether a true SS or “just” a Malibu.
Uptown, Chicago, Illinois.
Sunday, October 20, 2018.