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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale August 18th – 20th, 2016 at Russo and Steele’s 16th Annual Monterey, California Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Of all the great high-performance cars unleashed on American streets during the original muscle car boom, few enjoy the truly iconic status of the 1970 Chevelle SS396 today. In addition to their winning style and obvious performance mission, the Chevelle SS models carried a decidedly upscale image that widened their appeal beyond the typical youth market of the era. SS396 engine choices were focused with the 350-horse L35 standard and hotter 375-hp L78 optional. The 3-speed manual transmission was also eliminated, with buyers able to choose from the Turbo-Hydramatic automatic and Muncie 4-speeds. The highly efficient ZL2 Cowl Induction hood was a new and popular Chevelle SS option. The F41 sports suspension, which included front and rear sway bars and stiffer springs, was now standard. SS396 buyers also got power front disc brakes, F70 belted tires on 14×7 five-spoke ‘SS’ wheels, chrome wheel openings, and dual exhaust with chrome tips. Black-out panels front and back with bold ‘SS’ emblems rounded out the all-encompassing SS396 package.
Out of total 1970 Chevelle SS production of 62,372, the majority – 53,599 – was equipped with RPO Z25 (SS396) and 8,773 were Z15 (SS454) cars. While the 454 cars seem the rarest at first glance, the hot L78-powered SS396 was in fact the rarest, with 2,144 built. As Chevy’s top big-block for 1969, the L78 was only offered for one more year in 1970. Rated at 375 hp at 5,600 rpm with 415 pounds-feet of torque at just 3,600 rpm, the L78 was one of Chevy’s finest high-performance engines with 4-bolt mains, forged internals, hot mechanical valvetrain, big-valve heads, a Holley four-barrel carburetor, dual-plane aluminum intake, and low-restriction dual exhaust. A low-14-second car off the showroom floor, simple tuning, slicks, and headers dropped times well down into the 13s.
This 1970 Chevelle SS L78 convertible was built at Chevrolet’s Baltimore assembly plant during the 3rd week of November, 1969 and sold new from Rosenthal Chevrolet in Arlington, Virginia. It is believed to be one of only 19 L78 convertibles, one of 10 4-speed cars, and one of just four in Fathom Blue produced for 1970. This example is even more distinctive with its blue interior with A51 Strato-Bucket Seats and D55 Console, whereas the bench-seat interior was more common. Factory options and features over and above the Z25 SS396 package included the M20 4-speed, G80 Positraction, G96 3.55:1 rear axle, and N40 power steering. Comfort and convenience options included A01 full tinted glass, power top, U63 pushbutton AM radio, U27/U29/interior lighting, D88 hood/deck stripes, and ZL2 Cowl Induction hood.
Prior owner Greg Jackson of Alamogordo discovered the rare, high-specification Chevelle in a New Mexico storage facility and Richard McWhirter of One Stop Auto in Alamogordo performed the restoration during the early 2000s, with the car beautifully preserved and maintained ever since then. Accompanied by its replacement Protect-O-Plate and warranty folder, two (2) very well-preserved build sheets confirming factory options, plus trim-tag and VIN decoding, this extremely rare L78 Chevelle SS396 convertible simply stands as one of the finest Chevrolet high-performance cars ever built.