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1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 Automatic


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As impressive as that black '70 Chevelle is, this one is unquestionably the finest I've seen. It comes from the same collection, same guy who knows these cars inside and out, and it's a rather remarkable find. Of course it's a real LS6, matching-numbers, and heavily documented, that's a given. But perhaps more importantly it has just 11,679 original miles, and that's not a typo. It has a known ownership history, which is interesting all in itself. It seems that four friends in 1970 decided they wanted to go racing so they walked into a local Chevy dealership here in Cleveland (Sheffler Chevrolet in North Olmsted) and bought FOUR LS6 Chevelles: a blue one, two gray ones, and this green one. The blue one was a 4-speed, the other three were automatics. The gentleman who bought this Forest Green one, a guy named [ironically] Red, thought about buying a convertible--which would have left him with one of the fewer than 100 1970 LS6 convertibles--but decided it would be heavier than his buddies' coupes so he settled for this hardtop. And they did indeed go racing together, although not in the way you'd expect. See, Red was a pilot and worked out of a semi-private airport, so they'd go out there at night and run the Chevelles from one end of the runway to the other, a distance of about 3/4 mile, which really gave them a chance to wring the LS6 to its limits. No rules, so they all modified their cars in various ways to try to outsmart each other, but apparently Red, with this green SS, came out on top more often than not.

 

There was only one modification that was consistent to all four cars: the high-beam headlights. Look closely and you'll note those aren't some standard GE bulbs. No, those are landing lights from a commercial airliner, wired into the high-beam system with a relay, and they are SERIOUSLY bright. I mean, melt your eyeballs out of your head BRIGHT. So they went racing.

 

After a few years of fun, the group went their separate ways and Red parked the Chevelle. Sometime in the early '80s, he sold the LS6 to another local guy who intended to turn the low-mileage Chevelle into a show car, so he installed all kinds of chrome add-ons in the engine bay, sprayed the floors gloss black Imron, and, well, kind of ran out of steam when he discovered that the somewhat modified LS6 was a real handful on the street. Red had added a gigantic cam, aluminum heads from an L89 Corvette, headers, and a 1050 CFM Holley on top. It probably wasn't happy under 3000 RPM. So the guy took the car apart, intending to domesticate it a bit, and just never got around to finishing the job. It sat in his garage with 10,895 miles on the clock for the next 27 years.

 

Fast forward to four years ago, 2016, and my friend heard about this low-mileage Chevelle sitting in a garage. He chased his leads as we are all wont to do and eventually found this car--somewhat disassembled--sitting under a tarp in a suburban garage and bought it on the spot. He intended to put the car back to stock, but was daunted by the scope of the task--finding all those missing LS6 parts would be one hell of a challenge, and surely an expensive one. In the paperwork he received from the seller, he found Red's name and address, so he looked him and it turns out Red was still around, albeit well into his 80s. He was delighted to hear his old Chevelle was still around and not crushed into a cube years earlier. He mentioned that he thought he still had some parts for the car laying around, so the two men got together and sure enough Red was sitting on a gold mine. Every part he'd ever removed from the Chevelle--carburetor, heads, intake manifold, camshaft, power steering pump, exhaust manifolds--was just as it was when he'd removed them when the car was almost new. 

 

Cosmetically, the car remains excellent and that is 100% factory paint over every square inch. In fact, we have a letter from the second owner to a Chevelle expert of some kind complaining that he was sick and tired of "experts" at shows coming up and telling him that his car must have been repainted because it was too nice to be original. And that was in the 1980s! But it is unquestionably the factory finish, with paint thickness gauge readings between 3 and 6 mils throughout. The sheetmetal is laser straight without a single ding or wave, and given its heavy but sparing use in a controlled environment, it's practically devoid of chips and scratches even in the high-traffic areas. There's even a little error on the stripe on the trunk--surely a factory mistake because no bodyshop in the world would allow something like that to go out the door. The chrome is excellent all around and the black vinyl top is unblemished and almost like new. Cosmetically, this car has led a very easy life.

 

There's a bench seat and a column shifter inside because, after all, that was the lightest combination. The upholstery, carpets, door panels, headliner, dash pad, and all the little knobs and handles are 100% original. During the reassembly, the interior was removed for cleaning, and in the process they found not one, not two, but THREE original build sheets hidden in various locations: behind the rear seat, in the passenger door, and in the dash. Factory Rally gauges are all fully operational, including the 6500 RPM tach that's exclusive to the LS6. The clock is offline, sadly, and the AM radio powers up but does not tune stations, which is probably a broken wire in the windshield-mounted antenna. Meh. The trunk is finished with the original mat and what appears to be the original spare tire assembly that dates to 1970. Red even had the original jack.

 

The LS6 is 100% matching numbers, and I mean 100%. Block, heads, intake, carburetor, alternator, water pump, coil, and exhaust manifolds are all the original equipment, much of which Red had sitting on his shelf for decades. The engine was pulled and fully rebuilt simply because it had been sitting for so long--it only makes sense. It was detailed and reassembled with all its original equipment installed around it, then tuned to run properly. It starts easily, idles smoothly, and while I haven't hammered on it (are you nuts?) there's certainly a mountain of torque available at any speed. Throttle response is crisp and when you're just cruising, this is a pretty mellow fellow. The cowl induction hood works properly, and I'd wager this is still a very fast car on the street.

 

Underneath, the original, numbers-matching TH400 3-speed automatic transmission was rebuilt and reinstalled as well, benefitting from a fresh torque converter to replace Red's race unit. Out back in the numbers-matching 12-bolt rear end, the original 3.31 gears on a Posi are still in place (they were racing on a runway, so more top end was desirable and the 3.31s surely delivered), and the entire unit was treated to new bearings and seals during the rebuild. There's a fresh Gardner reproduction exhaust system that cost nearly $3000 and includes original part numbers stamped in the original locations. Brakes were rebuilt with the original calipers and master cylinder being re-sleeved and rebuilt rather than just replaced. The original brake lines are still in place and covered in a layer of shiny black Imron from that second owner's attempt at building a show car, and that black paint is the only notable deviation from stock. I kind of wish he hadn't done it, but it does look quite clean underneath, which is what a lot of guys like. It goes down the road straight and true thanks to a rebuilt power steering box and pump (which is unique to the LS6, amazingly enough), and the TH400 makes that characteristic whine in 1st gear that defines GM's best slushbox. Original wheels are unmarked and carry fresh reproduction F70-14 Goodyear Polyglas tires that look exactly right.

 

Documentation is extensive, starting with all three build sheets, which are crystal clear and 100% legible. There's also the original Protect-O-Plate (Red's real name was Walter and this car is still affectionately called "Walt's car"), original owner's manual, appraisals, correspondence, receipts (the machine work on the motor alone was almost $6000, never mind the assembly that was done by the owner). Title history and documents are, of course, part of the deal. 

 

Today this is probably the most accurate, lowest-mileage original LS6 in the world. Perhaps the rebuilt engine precludes it from being a true survivor, but this car is beyond HPOF anyway--put it up for points, it'll stand tall. It's totally sorted and the history is just plain fun. And if you want a car where all you need to do is stomp and steer, nothing does it better than this slick Chevelle. This is an extraordinary car for the guy who understands just how difficult it is to take a car to this level of authenticity. Price is $159,900, same as the black one. All you need to do is decide whether you want a manual or an automatic. Thanks for looking!

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Here's the car by the numbers:

 

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Three 100% legible build sheets.

 

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VIN                                     

136370K145045

(145045 is visible in block 9, upper right corner of all three build sheets)

 

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Cowl tag                           

ST70: 1970 model year
13637: Malibu Sport Coupe
KAN: Kansas City, MO assembly plant
451861: Fisher body number (matches block 8 & block 24 on build sheets)
TR 755: Black vinyl
48 B PNT: Forest Green with black vinyl top
12D: Assembly date (fourth week of December 1969; actual build date December 22, matches block 10 on build sheet)
0100: Data processing numbers (matches block 24 on build sheet)
1: Day of production week (Monday)
L: Malibu Sport Coupe

 

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Protect-O-Plate              

136370K145045 (VIN)
H: Carburetor source (Holley)
T1211RR: Engine assembly code (T = Tonawanda assembly plant, 1211 = December 11, 1969 assembly date, RR = LS6 with TH400 automatic transmission, matches engine stamp pad)
RV1212B: Rear axle code (RV = 3.31 Posi 12-bolt LS5/LS6, 1212 = December 12, 1969 assembly date, Buffalo plant, matches axle stamp)
D = Build month (December 1969)
70Y328: Transmission code (70 = 1970 model year, Y = TH400 for LS6, 328 = assembly date November 25, 1969, matches transmission identification tag)
1133: Option codes (1 = power steering, 1 = power brakes, 3 = radio, 3 = disc brakes)
Vehicle delivery date: January 10, 1970

 

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Engine                               

Casting no: 3963512
Casting date: K26 9 (November 26, 1969)
Casting code by oil filter: K HI PERF PASS 1
VIN stamp: 10K145045 (matches VIN, stamped upside-down which is correct for Kansas City assembly plant)

Assembly stamp: T1211CRR (December 12, 1969, LS6 with automatic transmission)

 

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Transmission                   

Matching partial VIN (10K145045)
Identification tag:
328 = Assembly date (November 25, 1969, 328 days after January 1, 1969)
70 – CY – 1221: 70 = 1970, CY = TH400 for LS6, serial number 1221

 

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Rear axle                          

Tube stamp CRV 1212B1 (CRV = 3.31 Posi 12-bolt LS5/LS6, 1212B1 = December 12, 1969 assembly date, Buffalo, 1st shift, matches Protect-O-Plate)
Casting no.: 3969278N (12-bolt casting)

 

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Carburetor                       

3969898-GR (GM part number, correct for LS6 TH400)
LIST-4492 (Holley part number, correct for LS6 TH400)
 9B2: Assembly date (second week of December 1969)

 

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Intake manifold              

Casting no: 3963569 (correct for LS6)
Casting date: not visible without disassembly

 

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Exhaust manifolds           

RH 3916178 (correct for LS6)
LH 3909879 (correct for LS6)

 

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Alternator                        

Inconclusive

 

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Water pump                    

Casting no: 3969811 (correct for 1970 LS6 454)
Casting date: H19 (August 19, 1969)

 

Distributor                       

Inconclusive (can't get a clear photo without removing the distributor)     

 

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Coil                                     

(1115)293 B-R (correct for 1970 LS6 454)

 

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Starter                               

1108430 (correct for LS6 454)

 

Battery                              

R59S (even though these cars were all supposed to come with side-post batteries, a top terminal battery is correct for this particular car--see block 49 of build sheet)

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Nice to see a special car with proper documentation. As a young kid a local collected several similar cars......sold two of them to Jackson. 

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This car (along with the black one) sets the standard for what you should look for when buying an LS6.    People wonder when they see what looks like to identical cars but one is priced twice as high.   The matching paperwork car being twice as much money and yet still the better buy over the cheaper car.

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2 minutes ago, Zimm63 said:

Is that the dark green poly?  Painted my 70 Camaro that color in 78 and really liked how it looked.

 

It's code 48 Forest Green. I though it was Fathom Green, but they changed the name in '70 to Forest Green. Not a very exciting name.

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Interestingly I just helped a pre war friend buy a very nice Chevy 409. I had to talk him into spending the extra money to buy a good car. When he got the car home, he found two build sheets, one on the firewall, and another.......I'm guessing in the door also. He was walking on air, as then he had proof positive the car was 100 percent correct, like he thought. 

 

IMPORTANT FACT - Great cars continue to get better over time.............alwys buy the best example you can afford........it pays off in the end.

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Battery                              

R59S (even though these cars were all supposed to come with side-post batteries, a top terminal battery is correct for this particular car--see block 49 of build sheet)

 

 

As I recall, Delco introduced the side-terminal battery on the 1971 Eldorado and Grand Prix only.  I believe there was even an ad that stated this.

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The side post had to be introduced earlier than that, since a majority of 1970 Chevelles have them, including the black one I have. Block 49 of the black car's build sheet says R79W, which is indeed a side-terminal battery, so that's what is in that car. I don't know why the green car has R59S top post, but there it is. The fellow from whom I acquired the cars said that some Chevelle expert at a show told him this green car should have a side-post battery. Then he showed the guy the build sheet and sure enough, top post was specified. I don't have an explanation, but the papers don't lie.

 

Black car:

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Green car:

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I also have a silver 1970 Chevelle LS5 4-speed convertible (with factory A/C), and it uses a top post, although it's not as accurate as these two hardtops.

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There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. So odd.

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That looks to be the exact same color as my 1970 SS 396 Chevelle that I bought when I was 19, except that mine didn't have the white stripes or vinyl top, and my interior was dark green. These photos really bring back memories. Great car!

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Guest Mark McAlpine
On 7/30/2020 at 10:37 PM, Matt Harwood said:

The side post had to be introduced earlier than that, since a majority of 1970 Chevelles have them, including the black one I have. Block 49 of the black car's build sheet says R79W, which is indeed a side-terminal battery, so that's what is in that car. I don't know why the green car has R59S top post, but there it is. The fellow from whom I acquired the cars said that some Chevelle expert at a show told him this green car should have a side-post battery. Then he showed the guy the build sheet and sure enough, top post was specified. I don't have an explanation, but the papers don't lie.

 

Black car:

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Green car:

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I also have a silver 1970 Chevelle LS5 4-speed convertible (with factory A/C), and it uses a top post, although it's not as accurate as these two hardtops.

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There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. So odd.

 

My assembly manual and reference books are all packed, but if I remember correctly, 1970 Chevelle SSs with either 454 ci engine (LS-5 or LS-6) had side post batteries, whereas 396 ci engines had top post batteries.  (I'm not sure about the LS-78 396--it may have had side posts, too.)  As Matt and others pointed out, the key is the what the build sheet for the car specified.  My guess is the explanation for the few 1970 LS-6 Chevelles documented built with top post batteries is that those were the only batteries available on the assembly line that particular day--the factory wasn't going to stop production or hold the car waiting for side post batteries.

 

For judging purposes, installing a side post battery in an LS-6 built with a top post battery would be okay and not attract the attention of the judges because that's what most 1970 LS-6s came with and what the judges are going to expect to see.  Having a top post battery in an LS-6 would/should attract the attention of the judges and probably result in a deduction--that's why having factory documentation is so important.  You can't argue with a build sheet.

 

A good rule thumb someone taught me when I began judging:  "Never say never, and never say always."  Anytime you seem something unusual on a car, even when you're certain it's incorrect, ask the owner the owner for documentation and let them educate you about their car.

 

Great car, Matt!  Thanks for sharing it with us.

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