Saturday, January 26, 2013

1970 Chevelle SS 454 barn find found in New York

King of New York barn finds. Gary K. of Long Island, New York, a self-professed "Chevelle nut," and master of dozens of successful, search-and-find, muscle car missions, is always on the hunt. Gary has learned that discovering a prized, but neglected (cheap), big block Chevy muscle car is like finding a needle in a haystack. It requires keeping your head on a swivel, covering a lot of territory and making notes on the locations of cars that are "not for sale." Gary's vigilance was rewarded with a deal on a Cranberry Red 1970 Chevelle SS 454 (LS5) that the owner lost interest in around 1992. His loss, our gain.  

This 1970 Chevelle SS 454 parked for more than 20 years.

Roman Red 1970 Chevelle SS 454 still wears the factory cowl induction hood.

Jacked-up Chevelle
  Gary discovered the red Super Sport propped up on jack stands in a backyard out on the north fork of eastern Long Island, which is about an hour away from his home. The owner was ready to unload his cherry, big block beast after permanently parking it 20 years ago. Gary noticed a little bit of rust on the LS5 SS, but it wasn't enough to scare him away from owning his eighth A-Body Chevelle. 
  "Apparently, the owner, who bought the Chevelle in 1990, had lost interest in it back in 1991-92 and parked it for good," said Gary. "The only time the car moved was when it was relocated from one backyard to another." The New York inspection sticker on the windshield is from 1992.
  Unfortunately, the owner's backyard served as a pull-your-own Chevelle parts location. The Chevelle’s 454 engine and Muncie 4-speed transmission were long gone. Also, a number of other parts had disappeared while the Chevelle sat out in the elements. Memories and photos of the Chevelle during its cruising-and-bruising days were all the owner wanted to keep. Of course, a bit of cash changed hands to ease the transition and make Gary the proud, new owner.

This LS5 Chevelle was backed by a M22 4-speed back in the day. A tach and the cowl hood reminded the driver just how cool they were when they stomped their right foot.

Sizing-up a 1970 Chevelle SS 454
  A muscle car legend was born when the first 454-cu. inch engine was planted in a 1970 Chevelle. Size does matter when you talk about the biggest and baddest engine Chevrolet had offered up until 1970. The Bow Tie boys offered two versions of its new 454-cu. inch big block, which featured a 4.251-inch bore with a 4-inch stroke. There is no replacement for displacement and the ’70 model Chevelle was the monster of cubic inches.
  The LS5 version of the 454-V8 was conservatively rated at 360 horsepower in the ’70 Chevelle and featured either 2-bolt or 4-bolt main blocks with a steel crank and cast pistons. Up top the engine had a low-rise cast iron intake, 4 barrel Rochester Quadrajet and closed chamber oval port heads. This engine had a 10.25-to-1 compression ratio. Total production numbers for LS5 Chevelles in 1970 are 4,298.
  The LS6 was rated at 450 horsepower! This was the highest factory rated horsepower number of the muscle car era and it was offered in 1970 Chevelles. LS6 grunt was provided by 4-bolt mains, forged crank, rods and pistons along with solid lifters. Rectangular port heads with bigger valves and an aluminum low-rise intake with a Holley 4 barrel carb allowed the big block to drink gallons of hi-po, go-go juice. The LS6 was a high compression, 11.25-to-1 ratio. Total production numbers for LS6 Chevelles in 1970 are 4,475.

Looks like the 1970 Chevelle 454SS is ready to launch but first it needs an engine.

Options, by the numbers
  Gary’s car is one-of-299 LS5 Chevelles built in Canada. The trim tag reflects the Chevelle being a Z15 M22 (SS 454, 4-speed) and it was originally sold on Long Island and remained in local hands since new. Can you imagine what it felt like to drive out of the dealership shifting the Muncie, 4-speed transmission, feeling the torque of the 454 and gazing across the cowl induction hood? I can see the 5,500 RPM redline spooling up on the tach as the 12-bolt rear end housing 3.31 gears unleashed the horsepower to the pavement on every shift.   

1970 Chevelle LS5 engines were rated at 360 horsepower.

The never ending hunt
  Gary is a true wheeler-dealer, who lives a junkyard life. He doesn’t rub elbows with celebrities at made-for-tv, mega buck, car auctions. He finds classic muscle cars on the cheap and makes it look easy. Gary also found a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, 1969 Mustang Mach 1 and a 1972 Pontiac GTO. We’ve learned that digging up barn find bargains is an art form for fearless, savvy shoppers who know their way around a wrench. Gary offers some encouragement for you to get out there and find a deal on your dream car.
  "I found a real SS 454," said Gary. "This just goes to show you that there are plenty of desirable muscle cars still out there." 
  Gary’s encouraging words come with a caveat about exploring Long Island, New York. "If there is an old muscle car sitting in my neck of the woods, I already know about it and probably have tried to buy it."

– Jody Potter,

Know of a car or a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  
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Cowl trim tag reveals the ’70 Chevelle's (Z15) SS454 engine and (M22) Muncie transmission options.

1970 Chevelle SS's door panels and bench seat are covered in Antique Medium Saddle.

Rust is evident on the rockers and quarter panels of the ’70 SS454.

Gary says that most Long Island muscle cars that live outside have already rotted into the ground.

SS454 emblems were the calling card of many street racers.

The cleaned-up and re-bumpered 1970 Chevelle sits at Gary's house.

60,000 miles showing on the Chevelle’s odometer. How many times around the clock are just a guess.

Red on tan interior color combo is a departure from the usual black guts found inside many 1970 Chevelles.

Vintage 1990-era photo of the 1970 Chevelle SS454 from the previous owner.

Another 1990 photo of the 1970 Chevelle SS454. Not long before it was parked for 20+ years.

Production numbers for Z15, 454SS Chevelles in 1970

LS5 454 (360 HP) — 4,298 total

  • 2,763 — Manual transmission
  • 2,197 — Automatic TH-400 

LS6 454 (450 HP) — 4,475 total

  • 3,525 — Manual transmission
  • 2,923 — Automatic TH-400 

8,773 — Total Chevelles built in 1970 with Z15 option 454 engine (LS5, LS6)

Know of a car or a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  
Send emails to


Unknown said...

Jody, on a side note to the "Canadian built" Chevelle...what made the Canadian cars special were the fact the inner fenderwells were plastic (found this tidbit of info on one of the Chevelle websites), I have a friend who has one (original 396 car) that is missing the fenderwells.

Brian B.

Gary said...

Hey Brian, not all Canadian built Chevelles received the plastic fender wells. The car in the article still has the original metal wells and I also currently own another Canadian built 70 SS (396) with the original metal wells. I'm sure some Canadian Chevelles got the plastic wells, but there was no rhyme or reason as to which ones. The same goes for their U.S. built counterparts. I have even seen Chevelles with one of each, talk about quality control. The plastic fender wells weren't as "exclusive" as the Olds W30 red plastic wells; I had a 72 Malibu 307 automatic last year, nothing performance about it at all and it came with factory plastic wells. This is just from my personal research and experience dealing with Chevelles.