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 your 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

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