By Dave Ashton
Every automotive era has standout examples which define the times. When it comes to the golden era of muscle cars, one of the figureheads is the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6.
The year 1970 was the point in time when muscle cars hit their sweet spot in general. They had the looks, power, performance, street cred, and were relatively affordable to the average guy.
If you’re familiar with the Chevrolet Chevelle or not, this article will hopefully serve as a start point for this standout muscle car and the first one off the block.
A Bit of Background History
In roughly October 1969, Chevrolet decided to produce a car with more oomph than the Corvette. The ‘pilot car’ Chevelle was built on December 9, 1969, rolling out of the Baltimore plant, and into the possession of plant manager Earl Prentice. The build sheet states, ‘pilot car’ and ‘if it had wings it would fly.’ Not a surprise when the thing had 450HP at 5,600 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. Some say the horsepower output was downplayed for insurance purposes, with the real output being around 500HP.
Under the hood is a 454cu.(7.4L) Turbo-Jet LS6 V8, with a forest green metallic paint job, white SS stripes, and a tan interior. The original list price was $3,486, which was quite a climb from the Chevelle’s basic price of $2,719.
Automotive magazines of the day tested the LS6 against the equally reputable HEMI over a quarter-mile. The LS6 had a time of 13.13 seconds at 107.01mph according to the Nov. 1969 issue of Car Craft, while the HEMI did 13.34 seconds at 107.52 according to Superstock and Drag Illustrated December 1969.
The LS6 used the LS5 block with a 800-cfm Holley four-barrel, and 11.25:1 compression pistons. An Air Injection Reactor (A.I.R.) pump was added to comply with new Federal emission standards, which was usually removed by new owners. As regulations continued to squeeze the muscle car market after 1970, the 454 Chevelle and the like represented the last of the unregulated muscle cars.
A Muncie M22 ‘Rock Crusher’ four-speed manual or a three-speed M40 Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission with options were available, up to 4.33:1 rear gears.
Only 4,475 RPO LS6 cars were ever built, making the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 quite the collector’s item. The pilot car underwent a full restoration in 2010 by MuscleCar Restoration & Design, Illinois, who are specialists in this type of thing, bringing the car back to its original condition.
The car went under the hammer on August 21, 2011, at at Russo and Steele, fetching $181,500.
If you want to own a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 these days, you’ll be paying roughly $125,000–$150,000. The pilot car’s worth, far more, if you can ever persuade the present owners to part with the thing.
The restoration process is documented in images over at musclecarrestorationanddesign.com.
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