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Ultimate Barn Find? 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

Referring to any classic car as the ultimate barn find is a pretty bold call. To qualify, the vehicle would need to be something exceptional. It is the claim being made by the owner of this 1970 Chevelle SS 396, so we probably need to take a good look and see how it stacks up against that claim. It is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The vehicle has attracted some interest since it was offered for sale with bidding starting to take off!

When you look at this Champagne Gold Chevelle, it is incredible to think that it was laid low by a minor incident early in its life. The original owner drove the vehicle until 1974. At that point, he was involved in a fender bender. He managed to hit a street sign and inflicted some minor damage to the driver’s side rear quarter panel. Repairing this should have been a straightforward proposition, and you can see the evidence of the owner’s attempt in the first photo. The visible Bondo marks the single spot that received the accident damage. Once it went into his workshop for this repair, that’s as far as it ever went. So, some minor cosmetic damage has seen the Chevelle parked for the last 46-years.

The storage environment appears to have been pretty good, but not perfect. As you can see, the underside of the Chevelle wears a significant coating of surface corrosion. However, rust has not managed to penetrate any of the steel. That means that the floors and frame are structurally sound. External rust seems to be confined to a spot in the bottom of each front fender. The buyer might choose to replace these, but the reality is that both areas could be fixed with patches. All of the trim and chrome is present, as is the glass. The truth is that if this classic is to be done any justice, then the restoration is going to involve the vehicle being completely dismantled. That will allow it to be media-blasted, which should help to keep future rust issues at bay.

The Chevelle is a numbers-matching car, and for Chevelle enthusiasts, it represents a desirable package. What we find is a 396ci V8, an M21 close-ratio 4-speed transmission, a Posi rear end, and power front disc brakes. This isn’t any old 396, because this is 1-of-2,144 Chevelle’s equipped with the 375hp L78 engine. That would have made this a fire-breather when it was new and capable of dispatching the ¼ mile in 14.4 seconds. If the claims about the car being idle since 1974 are correct, then that makes the owner’s claim of 26,000 genuine miles seem to be entirely plausible. It appears that the Chevelle hasn’t fired a shot since 1974, but the owner says that the engine does turn freely.

The interior of the Chevelle is a mixture of both good and bad news. The seats, door trims, dash, and console all appear to need nothing more than a good clean. The carpet has been removed by the current owner as it was the victim of rodent infestation. The headliner is said to look okay, but it is full of nesting material. The owner states that this should be replaced. Of course, this level of rodent activity will place a question mark over the state of wiring and insulation. However, if the car is going to be dismantled for restoration, this can all be examined and tested. Apart from the console and bucket seats, the Chevelle scores an AM radio with the optional rear speaker.

So, is this 1970 Chevelle SS 396 the ultimate barn find? That is a big call to make. It is definitely 1-of 24,567 Chevelle’s finished in Champagne Gold, and 1-of-2,144 to be optioned with the L78 engine. Those numbers speak for themselves, and it would be interesting to know how many Chevelles were built with this combination. The owner states that it might be the only Champagne Gold L78 in existence, which is also a possibility. However, confirming it could involve a bit of homework. Ultimate barn find? What do you think?


  1. GuernseyPagoda

    Great barn find? Yes! Awesome car? Yes! Best barn find ever? Not a chance. I am a GM guy and also currently have a Mercedes/Pagoda in my garage. Loving this car, and it is only about 4 hours from me, but I personally like the ‘55 Gullwing discoveries that have been listed on here. THOSE are rare finds, and almost 1 in a million, as the prices indicate. Good luck to this seller, as it is probably hard to part with this Chevelle after having found it.

    Like 12
  2. CharlesMann Member

    He’s a “fipper”

    PS: every car he has ever owned is the best barn find ever.

    Like 37
    • Wheezer

      Don’t know who ur talking about? I’ve owned my 68 Camaro since I was in high school and I’m definitely not a flipper.

      Like 4
    • A Realist

      Who cares if hes a flipper? The car will bid to what its worth, not a penny more. He probably hunted this car down. And because of him, it was brought to market for someone to buy, enjoy, and maybe restore in their own time frame rather than letting it continue to rot away never to be found in time to be saved. Thank you Mr Flipper for bringing this car to market as you found it instead of restoring it and forcing it out of reach to everyone in the hobby except for only the most elite buyers. Because of you, someone may get to own the 1 they always wanted instead of settling for a lesser model. Its people like you who do the leg work to find these hidden gems and show us they are still out there if we get off our butts and look rather than complain that we’ll never get to own a hemi Cuda, LS6 Chevelle or Boss 429. They are out there. Some in this condition or worse. Attainable. You just have to put in the work.

      Like 15
  3. TB

    I had the exact same color except without the stripes and cowl induction.
    Found it in Sheffield, Iowa.

    Like 5
  4. Mark

    What the heck happened to the steering wheel? It looks like it’s been chewed on. Certainly not something that the rodents would bother with. Also, I wonder why he didn’t clean up the steering wheel and dash like he did to the seats?

    Like 8
    • Wheezer

      Just 46 yrs of gunk. Cleaned right up like new. Didn’t want to start cleaning everything otherwise I would have kept it.

      Like 5
      • Dave

        You should do half of the hood with Color Back like they did in TV. That stuff actually works!

        Like 1
  5. DavidH

    Was it found in a barn?

    Like 2
  6. Josh

    Haha. Flipper, not at all. Owned my Camaro since high school. If you want the whole skinny, here it is:

    What came first the barn or the barn find?

    I received my gearhead genes from my dad and have had muscle cars all my life. I still have my first car from when I was 16 (a 68 Camaro) albeit it’s a little different than it was in it’s 2 barrel, Powerglide, open rear days (it’s now supercharged with an 8 speed Muncie and a CalTrac’ed 411 Currie 9”). And I’ve always had cars that I wouldn’t feel bad cutting up…until my recent find.

    Seven years ago I had a 5 car garage that I had to sell for family reasons. Ever since then, I’ve been playing musical garages with multiple vehicles. In an effort to find a permanent resting spot for the muscle cars, I had been sending letters to a couple down the street in hopes to buy their commercial garage. My persistence finally paid off. I purchased the “barn” and, low and behold, in the corner was a 70 Chevelle SS 396 4 speed. Can you say package deal?

    Since I was more interested in the garage for various reasons, I didn’t initially get a good look at the Chevelle until after closing but was able to confirm it was a true SS before making the deal. After closing, I finally got to inspect the car in detail and go over the paperwork. Turns out, it’s a numbers matching, unrestored, original owner, first week of November built, 70 L78, 4 speed, 355 posi, with 26k original miles, that’s been parked for 46 years (complete with its 1974 license plate)!!! I would venture to say it’s 1 of 1, the only Champagne Gold 70 L78 in existence.

    The story goes, the owner got married soon after his purchase, had a baby, bought a VW bus for the baby seat, and, in 74, backed into a sign damaging the driver’s quarter. It has remained in hibernation ever since, virtually untouched (except for the owner’s poor attempt to repair the quarter himself). I confirmed the original numbers off the drivetrain, have the build sheet, have the original invoice, have the original title, and have the finance agreement showing a $3,895.20 purchase price from King Chevrolet in Cincinnati on 1-19-70 (it was 15 degrees the day it was purchased 🥶 – which is pretty crazy considering the owner was definitely not a car guy).

    Again, I’m not the “restore to original type” and figure a find like this is easy come easy go, with the profits going to charity: Alzheimer’s, Follow a Dream Racing (Jay Blake is my hero), my church and local charities. Please forward this to whomever may be interested and bid early and often. Glory to God!!!

    Like 17
    • Rspcharger Rspcharger

      So, now you are the seller? What about @Wheezer up above?

      Like 0
  7. Troy s

    It’s all relative, if the rare ’70 L78 Chevelle is the car of your dreams, then yes, this would be the ultimate barn find….maybe. In the shape it’s in now? Or a thorough cleaning, a few parts here and there and it’s the calendar car, the red and black stripes one that graced the pages of calendars and magazine covers forever it seemed. Ultimate is a personal thing.
    Like the gold color for a change, has the killer L78 /four speed set up that’s good for 13.99 after much weight removal, cool can, and humungous drag slicks…..like the racer posted earlier. Just kidding of course.

    Like 1
  8. Jim ODonnell Staff

    Nice find Adam!

    Of note, those 2,144 examples were built between September and November of ’69. The L78 was replaced by the LS6 454 CI-450 HP engine in December of ’69. Attached is the Chevrolet Zone Office letter announcing the change.

    The L78 did continue on until the end of the ’70 model year but only in the Nova and Camaro.

    Like 6
  9. PaulG

    To not take the time to get it completely ready and fire it up makes the seller less than a real car guy… I’d be driving it as is until the right buyer came along IF I were to sell it.

    Like 6
  10. Superdessucke

    40k?? With 7 days to go. Well, I don’t understand it, but GLWTS.

    Like 5
  11. MH

    Nothing special. Very common. PASS!!!!

    Like 5
    • Superdessucke

      I bet you the Fuego is a lot less common ;-)

      Like 2
      • Steve R

        For a good reason.

        Steve R

        Like 1
      • Superdessucke

        Well, he spoke of commonality. If rarity is what you’re really after, the Fuego is your ride!

        Like 0
  12. Tony Primo

    The LS6 454 was the top dog engine for the Chevelle SS in 1970. Bundle that up with the M22 4 speed and then you would have the ultimate barn find.

    Like 9
  13. angliagt angliagt Member

    I take it that the ‘two thumbs up” is for all the money
    they’ll make by flipping it.

    Like 2
  14. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Barn Finds: Is this the ultimate barn find?
    LS6, Stage 1, Ram Air Pontiac, 426 Hemi, Boss 429, 428 CJ, and a slew of other muscle cars have entered the conversation

    Like 6
  15. SMS

    Had a friend with one of these. Almost bought it. Ended up getting a Duster with a 340/6 pack. This and the 69 Z28 were the best cars in our group. Cars were only five or six years old by the time we got them. Back then that was how long it took to go from brand new to junky enough for a high school kid to afford.

    Think we should stop just putting horsepower on the articles. Kids today will read it and wonder why it is special. Minivans now have nearly the same. We should add torque, how poor the handling was, and marginal the brakes.

    Memories of OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) green light, put your foot in it and suck the seat vinyl into your lower intestine when it started to wonder.

    Like 7
  16. Keith

    I guarantee that once this car comes back from the dipper or media blast it will tell a different story on rust thru.That car was driven thru every snow storm in Ohio tell it was parked then sat outside for the rest of the time. 40k right now and way to much for this car.

    Like 5
  17. Clement Feldman

    Ultimate barn find? No.
    Great car? Yes!
    It’s a project but a good one.
    If I was up for such an endeavor, I’d jump on it! 👍

    Like 1
  18. Russell Ashley

    I would not try to strip the paint, and especially not by blasting or immersion if there is a facility around that still does that. There are shops that can fix the quarter panel and lower front fenders and match the paint so that you would never tell it was done. IMO it would retain more value with original paint. Just buff and clean inside and out and drive it and enjoy.

    Like 5
  19. stillrunners

    Guess no one noticed the one lady owner 440 6 pak 4 speed original paint Super Bee that she listed and sold off of Craigslist….all #’s matching as well with no body damage. Wasn’t for me but was priced right….

    Like 1
  20. Sfm5

    Ultimate barn find? Remember the 427 Cobra and Ferrari 275 that were found together and wound up selling for close to $4M? I think that was still the ultimate barn find.

    Like 2
  21. house6860

    This is my fathers Original paint all matching numbers 1970 SS396, L78 M22 4spd with factory bench seat. All paperwork with car. This car was the show winner at the Detroit Auto show two years in a row for “Most Original Muscle Car” when it was still doing shows. Now its retired in his garage and resting. We now have the factory tires and rims back on and looking good.

    Like 1
  22. 1-MAC

    1970 L78 is rarer than the LS6. Only made for about 2-3 months. This is due for a restoration to stock and will be plenty fast for anyone.

    Like 0

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