Saturday, October 10, 2020

Rescuing a 1970 Chevelle: Birthday Blues, Vintage Paint, Finally the Right Year

1970 Chevy Chevelle barn find rescued in Alabama with funky white stripes over the Astro Blue paint.

She wanted a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle. Plus, she wanted it by her 50th birthday. Only it proved to be more of a challenge than she thought. The search began years ago when she fell in love with this intermediate size car that was a unique segue from the 1969 models to the one-eyed 1971 Chevelles. It had to be a 1970. She had her reasons. She also had a frustrating search thinking she had an advantage to finding this tin unicorn. What advantage? She is Toni Lively, the wife of Junkyard Life staff member Keith Lively. A very forgiving guy. Junkyard Life can find anything. Usually. Hey, we tried. We did. You just don’t find a lot of 1970 two-door hardtop unicorns laying around.

  “Why can’t you find me a 70 model!?!” Toni asked, with a tone of ‘you better step it up’ hidden in her voice only the day before. This poor girl has taken every opportunity to remind us over the years that if we ever found a 1970 Chevelle, she had dibs. Until now, we failed her.

1970 Chevelle with SS emblems is the ultimate muscle car rescue.
We can't believe it! We found a 1970 Chevelle that's been parked a long time and it's not a basket case.

You Can’t Always Get Whatcha Want

A  nice 1969? No.

A  really nice 1971? No

A really really nice 1972? No.

You can’t get what you want until you know what you want. Toni had that part covered. She knew with absolute certainty what she wanted. We really did tell her those and other encouraging words over time. We even told her some discouraging words during the weekend we planned to rescue the very Chevelle that would soon be hers. 

“You will never find it,” we exclaimed. At times we mixed in, “Keep trying! Don’t give up!” That way she wouldn’t suspect the big blue surprise parked in her coveted parking place when she got home just two days later. 

Loaded up! Rescue and restoration will begin soon!

She is Woman – Hear Her Roar

We actually did hear her roar. She roared at us and told us in no uncertain terms to stop finding every other Chevelle on Chevrolet’s menu except her 1970 request. Little did she know…we already did. The very next day we had the official seek, find and obtain order on a really cool 1970 Chevelle two-door hardtop. This one has a once hot-rodded small block Chevy with a few vintage speed shop add ons. It has a bench seat, a column shifter, great pans and several other attributes that will prove valuable in the restoration. It has front disc brakes, power steering, factory air and a 10-bolt rear end. John Mellencamp would groove on the exhaust system (Cherry Bomb*) and we here at Junkyard Life love, love, love, the circa 1977 World of Wheels style paint job that added several dimensions to the often emulated famous Super Sport stripes. These wild stripes are laying over a repaint on a real steel cowl hood. The paint code (25) tells us this Malibu was Astro Blue from its beginnings and seemed to stay somewhat local to Birmingham, Alabama all these years. How do we know this? We found the treasured Protect-O-Plate! That's the metal business card size tag that told the dealer who was the owner of the vehicle. Usually the Protect-O-Plates were discarded after warranty expirations, this is valuable treasure for us, despite the car being out of warranty by 1973. How did we find this? Forgiveness is important.

Mean street machine vibe on the 1970 Chevelle. The SS emblems, SS grill, and other bits were added years ago.

The forgiveness aspect of the story

Forgiveness is a key attribute that good men practice. The point is if you knew the whereabouts of a very specific car your good friend and co-worker might be looking for really hard and didn’t tell him. That would be wrong. For example if a really good friend (who was looking with you) knew of a 1970 Chevelle that was actually stashed away and the otherwise good…nay…GREAT friend simply forgot the car was there and suddenly remembered after a lengthy countrywide search and declared, “Hey, wait a minute. We DO have one laying around, only 3.5 minutes from you house!” The Chevelle alone is worth a pound of forgiveness. It says so in the Bible somewhere.** Now that guy…he could be forgiven in a matter of seconds. Whew! Glad we got the air cleared there.

Keith Lively can be seen negotiating the purchase of his wife's surprise birthday present.

What? You Better be Kidding

I come from a lineage of car guys and it is in our blood to obtain such things as a 1970 Chevelle. My cousin, Mike, rescued this Velle many years ago and I may have forgotten it was at his house. I don’t usually forget things like that and I am now wondering what else we have hidden away. Keith is threatening to hit me in the head really hard to “help” me remember such minor details as a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle. So, it sounds like forgiveness is on the way. A Chevelle was located and brought home. Toni Lively is finally happy with a retro-painted ’70 Chevelle that Keith finds for her, and Jody*** and I are back in Keith’s good graces. All's well that ends well. 

Another forgiving day at Junkyard Life.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

The expression says it all. Toni Lively is surprised.

Keith Lively’s 1970 Chevelle Fun Facts

  • He really tried to find this car by his wife Toni’s birthday. He missed by six months, so the day he presented the car, he brought a cake and we sang “Happy Birthday” again.

Toni Lively gets her birthday present 1970 Chevelle.

  • 1970 was a transitional year for the Chevelle. The resulting product had headlights and tail lights that were indigenous to that year model.

  • The Super Sport models came with no Malibu emblems after 1965. Before then, a Malibu SS could and did exist.

  • In 1970, the two-door Chevelles did not have front vent windows. For that level of cool you had to have a four door or a station wagon.

  • In 1970 a Chevelle Malibu four door Hardtop (no dividing piller) was on the menu. Most four door models were sedans with a post.

  • 1970 was the height of Detroit’s horsepower war and Chevrolet’s leading warrior was their LS6 Chevelle SS 454 packing 450 HP that they claimed. Rumors always indicated it was more than that. Wow! 

  • Toni’s Chevelle has the treasured Protect-O-Plate! The metal card Chevrolet included for the owner to have an easier time at the dealership for warranty work. For Junkyard Life car geeks this is a decoding treasure maps!

  • 1970 was the last year for the SS 396 option. Due to this being the first year for the gargantuan 454. If a buyer was weary of the new power plant, a 396 could still be had with up to 375 HP. 

  • The famed 396 became a 402 after 1970 with the factory bore increased by 30 thousandths. There was never a 402 emblem in production that we know of.

  • Toni’s 1970 example has a paint job that you would find in the mid-seventies during the custom car paint craze that America went though from coast to coast. Very psychedelic and retro cool!**** 

Editor’s Note*
Junkyard Life Writer/Photographer Ron Kidd is only allowed one rock and roll musical reference per story. After that horrible stretch of a song title, I feel he may owe John Mellencamp an apology.  

Editor’s Note**
Ron took terrible notes in Sunday School. Our apologies again.

“Go forth, young man and seeketh the Chevelle” was cut during editing.

Editor’s Note***
Me? No, just Ron. I was never blamed for this.

Editor’s Note****
Readers have no reason to believe a car from Ron’s family would have a normal paint scheme. Would you? No. No you would not.

You don't see the custom stripes very often. Most muscle cars have escalated in price and new paint is a must.

Don't laugh at the small-block 350. A big block will be landing here.

Detail of the decklid stripes.

Protecto Plate is stashed inside the owner's manual.

Toni and Keith excited for the new adventure in a 1970 Chevelle.

New parking spot, indoors for the Chevelle.

Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

Thursday, September 17, 2020

FOR SALE: 1984 Pontiac Fiero Indy Pace Car a Muncie 4-speed rarity

Pace yourself. Help a brother out! A brother with too many cars and one big project car in progress. Mike Clay, our recently featured 1970 Mach I owner, has to unload his minty-clean 1984 Pontiac Fiero Indy Pace Car. The funds from the Fiero will help get the Mach I some body shop love and a visit with the paint booth. Here's what the 1-of-200 Muncie 4-speed equipped Fiero Indy Pace Car offers for the $6500 price:

  • 79k miles
  • Muncie 4-speed with new clutch
  • Original paint in good condition
  • It has 17-inch aftermarket wheels with low profile tires but comes with the original white Indy Pace Car wheels.
  • Original owner's manual and window sticker.
  • Original fiero car bra.
No doubt your sitting in a Indy Fiero with these seats.

Mike Clay has put in some garage time maintaining the Indy Fiero. Check out the extensive list of work that has been done recently.

New Parts:
  • Clutch
  • Tires
  • Battery
  • Shifter and accelerator cables
  • Engine main seal and transmission seals
  • Head gasket and cylinder head rebuilt
  • Throttle body rebuilt
  • Water Pump
  • Alternator
  • Starter
  • Wheel bearings
  • A/C compressor, hoses rebuilt, system flush and charged.
  • Headliner
  • O2 sensor
  • TPS sensor
  • Fan temp switch
  • Distributor cap
  • Plug wires
  • Air and fuel filters
  • Engine and transmission mounts
  • New Pioneer dash speakers
Car located in Hoover, Alabama.
Price $6500.

Contact Mike Clay at:
(205) 563-3480

Like to see more vehicles for sale?   
Send comments below or emails to 

Monday, September 14, 2020

1970 Camaro Rally Sport: Son delivers Dad a time machine

1970 Camaro Rally Sport found in a field

Tribute time! No, I don’t mean time to get your garage band to cover a great Zeppelin song. I mean a tribute to family and automotive heritage. The reason that most of us are into cars to begin with. Family.

In this case Hunter Mitchell, a nineteen-year-old gear head who has so many ties to Junkyard Life, that he may as well be a staff member. When he was fifteen, he took us on a trip to Georgia and had us bring a trailer because he had found a 1971 Camaro and had aspirations of bringing it home. That Camaro wasn’t meant to be (true basket case) and he was somewhat disappointed if not heartbroken. Why? You may ask what draws this mainly Mopar guy to the GM camp? You guessed it! His dad had one. I (Ron) can attest to that because Hunter’s father, Lec, and I went to high school together and that 1972 Camaro was one of my favorite cars to ever grace the high school parking lot in the 1980s.

Lec Mitchell in 1986 ready for some prom festivities with his 1972 Camaro.

Keep digging
History was destined to repeat itself. Four years later Hunter hits F-body gold. A real 1970 Rally Sport Camaro.
Hunter was invited to take a look at “that old Camaro in the weeds” and could not believe his eyes when he first spotted the 1970-1973 Camaro clues. Then it just kept getting better as the forgotten Rally Sport got the attention it has not had in years. Hunter could only think of one person as he negotiated the Rally Sport’s new home – his dad.

Hunter Mitchell with his dad Lec.

Look what I found
So what does he have? One of our favorite cars of all time… A 1970 Rally Sport Camaro in paint code 75 Cranberry Red. We know not a few emblems does a Rally Sport make, but it also has the indigenous Rally Sport front nose piece, the split bumper with the parking lights ABOVE the bumperettes. It also has the way cool RS steering wheel. We have no reason to believe that this is not a real Rally Sport. We are inclined to believe that it is real. It has the original back seat (see Fun Facts below) and the things it does not have are not going to be hard to obtain.
Not having the original engine can be both a curse and a blessing, depending on how you look at that. To Hunter, it is a blessing. Some 1970’s street machine parts and some factory equipment will work beautifully together for this family. 

Cockpit of a 1970 Camaro RS.

How much love does it need?
  Of course it needs a lot. That seems to cancel itself out when you consider all it has going for it. The doors open and close better than we have ever seen. The rust in this car seemed to have crept in from the top downwards instead of the usual start at the bottom and eat the car upwards. It just makes us all happy to say “70 model Cranberry Red Rally Sport.” The Mitchell party is destined to continue. Why break tradition?

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Some rust and a later model rear spoiler found their way onto the 1970 Camaro.

Lec and Hunter’s 1970 Camaro Fun Facts:

  • 1970 was the first year for the second generation Camaro, therefore, some things are very 1970 specific. 
  • When removing the correct 1970 rear seat to look for a build sheet (which we didn’t find), we did find things we have never found in back seat ribbing before. Things such as spark plugs, a valve cover gasket, a comb and a cool compass thermometer combo. How did all that stuff get to where your back would be? Under the seat? Sure. Up there? How?
  • Lec bought his 1972 Camaro in 1986. It was silver with a black vinyl top. We loved that car.
  • Hunter began the search for this car in 2016. History does repeat itself.
  • Rally Red has a 10 bolt open end differential. Hunter has already located a 10 bolt positive traction rear end with disc brakes. Everybody check your 1979-81 Trans Ams. Especially if Hunter has been around. He didn’t say where he found it!
  • Lec’s high school Camaro came sans rear spoiler. Rally Red has a spoiler from another second generation Camaro, which it will likely lose during the paint and body work. They prefer the clean sweeping lines of the spoiler-free Camaros. 
  • 1970 was not the first 350 to be put into a Camaro, but it was the first year a 350 was offered in the Z28. “Offered” may not be the right way to say it. The 1970 Z28 LT1 was a 360 hp tire smoking crazy powerful car. 
  • Since the 1970 Z28 was already decided for you, if you wanted a 396, you had to turn to the Super Sport or the Rally Sport. You could even combine the two with what became known as the RS/SS. 
  • The 1970 Rally Sport had a luxury appointed feel. They really made one for every buyer. The economy minded had a 250 c.i.d. 6 cylinder and the need for speed could be met with a 375 hp  396-V8. Most cars were equipped somewhere in the middle with a 307 or a variety of 350 engines available. Lec and Hunter’s Rally Sport came with a V8 according to the VIN, but we just don’t know which one.
  • The 1970 Camaro was not released until February. That is why some collectors insist on calling them 70 and ½ models.

Core support still intact! Bring on the big radiators - maybe an aluminum 4 row?

Doors open and ready to fly in a1970 Camaro RS.

Behind the wheel of a 1970 Camaro RS.

Camaro name on the glovebox.

Rear seats are looking good.

Interior of 1970 Camaro RS.

Lec Mitchell's 1972 Camaro that lives in his memories and a few snapshots.

Lec and Ron reliving 1987 - watch out, ladies!

Split bumper? Yes! On the Rally Sport.

Hunter Mitchell and Ron Kidd celebrate the ’70 RS with a high-five.

Hunter Mitchell with his latest find – for his dad.

Ron Kidd and Hunter taking the 1970 Camaro RS on a fantasy spin.

Hunter and Ron discover a 1970s-era GPS in the Camaro.

Dad, I got you a time machine.

You never know what you'll find behind and under the seats of vintage iron.

Rear bucket seat looks great for its age and considering the years of neglect on the body.

Many argue that the split bumper Camaro is the best design of any generation.

Detail of the 1970s-era GPS. We are only halfway joking.

Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
Send emails to or Ron Kidd at