Car of the Week: Long live the King, the 1970 LS6 Chevelle

To keep the Chevelle in the muscle car race, Chevy had to do something drastic in 1970. The result was the legendary SS 454 LS6 option — probably the king of jungle when it comes to classic muscle cars.
Publish date:
Car of the Week 2020
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Only the good die young. The “bad” cars like the SS 396 kept going, but sometimes even they had to make adjustments to keep up with the competition. By 1970, the SS 396 was becoming a classic. It had been around since 1966 and was no longer the fastest muscle car in town. It was a snappy performer, but muscular newcomers from other automakers were proving to be a bunch faster on the streets and drag strips.

To keep the Chevelle in the muscle car race, Chevy had to do something to swing the balance back in its favor. After some brainstorming, the product planners came up with a simple answer—more cubic inches under the hood. Chevy announced that it would be releasing new 454-cid big-block V-8 for use in the Chevelle. The resulting model was called the SS 454 and is considered by many collectors to represent the pinnacle of the hot Chevelle SS series.

The 454-cid engine had a 4.250 x 4.00-inch bore and stroke. This monster was made available to the public in two different versions. The LS5 edition featured a 10.25:1 compression ratio and a 750-cfm Rochester Quadra-Jet carburetor. It was rated for 360 hp at 5400 rpm and 500 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3200 rpm. This engine was included in the SS 454 option, which had a $503.45 package price.

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For a little bit extra, you could get the even more awesome LS6 version of the 454, which used an 11.25:1 compression ratio and a 780-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetor. It developed 450 hp at 5600 rpm and 500 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3600 rpm. To get an LS6 you had to pay the SS 454 package price, plus $263.30.

The LS6 was a super-high-performance engine featuring things like four-bolt main bearings, nodular iron bearing caps, heavy-duty connecting rods, big-diameter exhaust valves and a solid-lifter camshaft. A test car powered by the LS6 engine moved from 0-to-60 mph in 5.4 seconds and did the standing-start quarter-mile in 13.81 seconds at 103.8 mph. Those numbers were racked up with a Turbo-Hydra-Matic transmission and a 3.77:1 rear axle. You could also order either 454-cid engine with one of three available four-speed manual transmissions.

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The cowl induction hood was one the most distinctive features on the SS Chevelles. The raised hood had a the scoop facing the driver. It drew air from the bottom of the windshield area, where the air has a natural swirling effect.

Only 3,773 of the SS coupes and convertibles built in 1970 had the 454-cid V-8s, and only a relative handful were LS6 editions. The hardtops came with a sticker price of $3,312. The convertibles were $200 more.

Rarity & Market Value

A scant 3,733 buyers opted for the SS-454 option package on Chevrolet's potent Chevelle in 1970. It's unknown how many of these buyers checked off the pinnacle of power choices, the LS6 version of the 454-cid V-8 that produced 450-hp. In the current collector car investment climate, the '70 LS6-optioned Chevelle SS remains one of most desirable purchases.

Recent auction buys include $150,000 paid for a convertible in #1 condition at the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas auction in Oct. 2008. One month earlier, a hardtop in #2 condition sold for $115,000 at the Russo and Steele Monterey (California) sale. More recently, with a bit of a market correction added in due to the uncertain economy, $73,000 purchased a #2 hardtop at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2009 auction. At that same event, someone paid $60,000 for a LS6 convertible replica, which is strong money for a pretender, even one fashioned as an LS6.

Engine spec’s:
Overhead-valve. Cast-iron block. Bore and stroke: 4.251 x 4.00 in. Displacement: 454 cid. Compression ratio: 11:25:1. Brake hp: 450 at 5600 rpm. Taxable hp: 57.80. Torque: 500 at 3600 rpm. Five main bearings. Solid valve lifters. High-performance camshaft. Carburetor: Holley four-barrel. Sales code: LS6 (added midyear).

1970 Chevelle options list
C60 Four-Season air conditioning, including 61-amp Delcotron, heavy-duty radiator and temperature-controlled fan and requiring larger tires with some Chevelles ($376). ZP5 appearance group ($34.85). G80 Positraction rear axle ($42.15). ZQ9 performance rear axle on Malibu with 375-hp V-8 and Positraction ($25.30). J50 power drum brakes ($42.15). JL2 power front disc brakes ($64.25). U35 Electric clock, included with special instrumentation ($15.80). D55 console with courtesy light ($53.75). C50 rear windshield defroster ($20.85 in coupe, $29.20 in convertible). AU3 power door locks ($44.80). K85 63-amp Delcotron generator, with air conditioning ($5.30); without air conditioning ($26.35). A01 all windows tinted ($36.90). V31/32 front or rear bumper guards ($15.80). B93 door edge guards ($4.25). K05 engine block heater ($10.55). ZL2 cowl-induction hood, requires Super Sport packages ($147.45). U14 special instrumentation with ammeter, temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge and tachometer ($94.80). U46 “Vigilite” light monitoring system ($26.35). Two-tone paint ($23.20). V01 heavy-duty radiator ($14.75). U63 AM push-button radio with front antenna ($61.10). U69 AM/FM radio with front antenna ($133.80). U79 AM/FM radio with front antenna and stereo ($239.15). UM1 AM radio with stereo tape deck ($194.85). UM2 AM/FM radio with stereo tape deck ($372.85). U80 rear seat speaker, not available with stereo ($13.20). Vinyl roof ($94.80). U73 rear antenna, all except AM/FM ($9.50). CO8 vinyl roof cover for hardtop models ($89.55). Electric seat back latch ($23.70). A51 Strato bucket seats in Malibu ($121.15). K30 speed and cruise control, V-8s with automatic transmissions ($57.95). N40 power steering for SS 396 ($105.35). N33 Comfortilt steering wheel ($45.30). Cushioned rim steering wheel ($34.80). N34 Sport styled steering wheel ($34.80). D96 sport striping for SS 396 only, standard with ZL2 ($68.50). F40 Special front and rear suspension ($17.25). Power convertible top ($52.70). Vinyl trim interior for Chevelle and Malibu sport coupe ($12.65). A31 power windows ($105.35). PO1 Four bright metal wheel covers ($21.10). ZJ7 Rallye wheels ($35.85). PY4 five F70-14/B White Stripe tires replacing PL4-SS 454 option (no cost).

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