1970 Chevelle LS6 “Survivor™”

1970 Chevelle LS6 “Survivor™”

By John Gunnell

By 1970, Chevy knew that the SS396 Chevelle was no longer the fastest muscle car in town—the town being Detroit, Mich., birthplace of almighty American muscle. The crusty and trusty old SS396.had been around since “way back” in 1966 and muscle car years at that time were like computer years today. The SS396 was still kool, but it was no longer king of the cubic inch monsters.

Muscular 400-cube-plus newcomers from other automakers were a bunch faster on the streets and drag strips. To swing the balance back in the Chevelle’s favour, Chevy released a new SS454. This combination is considered by many collectors to represent the ultimate development of the hot Chevelle Super Sport.

The 454-cid engine had a 4.250 x 4.00 inch bore and stroke and was made available in two different versions. The LS5 featured a 10.25:1 compression ratio and a 750-cfm Rochester Quadrajet carburetor. It was rated for 360 hp at 5,400 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. This engine was included in the SS454 option, which had a $503.45 package price. Even more dominating was the LS6, which used an 11.25:1 compression ratio and a 780-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. It developed 450 hp at 5,600 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. To get an LS6 you had to spend $263.30 over an LS5.

The LS6 was a super-high-performance V8 featuring things like four-bolt mains, nodular iron bearing caps, heavy-duty con rods, big-diameter exhaust valves and a solid-lifter cam. A test car powered by the LS6 engine moved from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 sec. and did the standing-start quarter mile in 13.81 sec. at 103.8 mph. That was with Turbo Hydra-Matic and a 3.77:1 rear axle. You could also order either 454-cid engine with one of three available 4-speed gearboxes.

Only 3,773 of the SS Sport Coupes and convertibles built in 1970 had one of the 454-cid V8s and only a relative handful were LS6 editions. That’s what helps makes this green LS6 very desirable to collectors. But, that’s not all that’s special about this particular Chevelle. In addition to being rare in terms of assembly line production, it is even rarer because it’s in Survivor™ condition

Coined by the organizers of the Bloomington Gold car show, the term Survivor™ has a particular meaning to many car enthusiasts. Survivor™ vehicles, as defined and codified by Bloomington Gold, are at least 20 years old and over 50 percent unrestored. Their finish and condition are so good, that they allow their use as a reference for the authentic restoration of a similar vehicle.  

  Our featured Chevelle, with 16,000 original miles and no restoration ever done to it, is a great example of a Survivor™. In addition to its extremely nice state of condition, this car has almost all the goodies. It left the factory with the Z15—or SS 454—option, which includes bright engine accents, dual exhausts with bright tips, power front disc brakes, a black grille, wheel opening moldings, a special rear bumper with a resilient black insert, a special domed hood, a special heavy-duty suspension, 14 x 7-in. Sport wheels and F70 x 14 wide-oval tires. It has Turbo-Hydra-Matic transmission with a column shift and a bench style front seat. Some enthusiasts might prefer bucket seats and a four-speed gearbox, but like we said, the car is original all the way and it is how it was ordered in 1970

 This SS454 retains most of its original green paint, an original white vinyl interior and all its original drive train components. The car is documented with four factories build sheets and its original Protect-O-Plate, an embossed plate that dealers made up to track warranty work. It carries information about the car that matches all the details of the actual vehicle. The car also has a completely documented “chain of ownership” and comes with all titles issued to it. 

Despite lacking a few typical muscle items, the car was sold with a number of rare options such as ZL2 Cowl Induction, a factory tach, a gauge package, a 3.31:1 posi rear axle and a Sport steering wheel. It won a Silver Spinner Award at the Chevy Vette Fest/Rick Nelson LS6 display in Rosemont, Ill. 

Original factory-placed production line markings show up all over the car. The frame has the inspection number 532 stamped on it. There are other factory numbers marked on the sheet metal and other under hood components. The alternator is stamped with a CZ/4 code that proves it to be the original. Markings like these were made by assembly line workers and inspectors and usually wear off with age. Sometimes restorers research them and replace them. According to the car’s current dealer owner, the markings of the Chevelle are original.  

The car still has the correct type of power steering hoses with factory fittings, which is another sign that nothing was changed under the hood. The loop-type handle on the engine oil dipstick still has a telltale dab of “factory” yellow paint on its end. Some underhood and frame areas show slight surface rust, because the car has not been touched up.  While not detailed, the engine looks practically new, other than rust on the exhaust manifolds and other parts.

Steve Bimbi, of Nickey Chicago, pointed out numbers stamped on the trunk lip that verify this car was built with a Chevelle hardtop body. Steve also showed us a factory flaw. During the car’s assembly, a line worker left a piece of weld wire in a corner of the trunk near a welded seam. When the car was spray painted, the paint went right over the welding wire. Steve said this was an “original error” that you don’t see on perfectly restored Chevelles.

All of the door stickers on the SS454 show what collectors call “matching numbers.” In other words, the VIN on the door tag is the same one on the Fisher Body tag and on documentation like the Protect-O-Plate. Under the never-touched trunk lid is an original (not reproduction) factory sticker that cautions the owner about the correct procedure for jacking a car with a posi-traction rear axle. There is also a jacking instructions and spare tire stowing label. The flawless light gray textured trunk mat is the one that the car left the factory with. 

As a dealer who specializes in selling choice muscle cars, Steve Bimbi believes that top-notch Survivor™ cars like this SS 454 are “worth two to three times what normal cars are worth.”

Categories: Muscle Car Plus