396/4-Speed: 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Convertible

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Long-term ownership is a trait that some potential buyers prioritize when searching for a classic restoration project. This 1970 Chevelle SS 396 doesn’t disappoint on that front, having been part of the same family since 1972. It spent the past seven years in storage but has emerged ready for a new owner to recapture its former glory. It looks tired but is a complete, rock-solid classic with plenty of promise. The seller listed it here on Craigslist in Spartanburg, South Carolina. With an asking price of $15,500, it could be one of the more affordable SS 396 projects in the current market. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Rocco B. for spotting it.

The first thing I noted with this Chevelle is that it is a mystery machine. Its paint color doesn’t seem to gel with any shade on the 1970 Chevelle color palette, suggesting it may be a special order or has undergone a change at some point. It needs plenty of TLC, but the new owner faces rust repairs first. These aren’t as extensive as you might expect, mainly impacting the lower body extremities, like the lower rear quarter panels and front fenders. The seller states the floors and trunk pan are rock-solid, suggesting returning this Chevelle to a rust-free state might not break the bank. There are no serious dings or dents or missing parts beyond the soft-top. The top frame is intact, and with a replacement top available for around $650, it could be the cheapest part of this restoration. The trim looks salvageable, and there are no apparent glass issues.

Chevrolet increased the capacity of its big-block from 396ci to 402ci in 1970 but retained the “396” designation due to recognizability. The seller doesn’t expressly state the SS is numbers-matching, but it would have sent 350hp to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. If you crave a rapid wind-in-the-hair motoring experience, this Chevelle should deliver. In its prime, it would have scorched the ¼-mile in 14.7 seconds before running out of breath at 129mph. If you wore a wig, you’d need to ensure it was nailed down tightly! Although this classic spent the past seven years in storage, it is said to run and drive. It is unclear whether it is mechanically roadworthy, but getting it to that point may not be challenging for a new owner seeking immediate automotive pleasure.

One aspect of the Chevelle begging for love is its interior. It is complete and unmolested, but it has seen better days. The front seat upholstery, door trims, and carpet look pretty ordinary. The back seat seems okay, as do the dash and pad. The buyer could replace the tired items or throw caution to the wind and splash $1,800 on a trim kit. Both approaches would yield impressive results, and the buyer’s choice would depend on how much they wish to focus on originality. Before spending any money, I would treat everything to a deep clean. That approach may produce positive results that remove some items from the shopping list.

The 1970 Chevelle SS 396 Convertible is one of the exceptions in the current classic market because values have dropped significantly during the past year. They haven’t reached a crisis point, and this could be some form of a market correction that happens occasionally. There is still the possibility that this car could command a price of around $80,000 if restored to a high standard. Considering the asking price, that leaves plenty of room to move on its restoration before it becomes financially questionable. It has been on the market for a short time, and I believe someone will snap it up pretty quickly.

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  1. Classic Steel

    Looked like a real project car at a real price.

    If only the other few listings with trees growing in the cars and rusty condemned vehicles asking higher prices could take note.

    This car is sold as one would guess when a reasonable and good starter is listed.

    I like it and would have purchased it.

    Like 2
    • Rashaud

      Still available???

      Like 0
  2. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Good looking project.. unfortunately the posting has been deleted. Either somebody offered the seller big bucks and sold it on the spot or he changed his mind. 🇺🇸🐻

    Like 4
  3. Kevin Kendall

    Patrick Glenn Nichols featured this car a couple of years ago on one of his videos,color is desert tan

    Like 5
  4. Troy UrichMember

    I thought it looked familiar.

    Like 1
    • Kevin Kendall

      Correction,desert sand

      Like 1
  5. Ron

    My 70 SS 396 Had chrome valve covers….and my breather was not like that one….it was round, and chrome, and you could see the filter all around.

    Like 2
  6. Rick

    The color is Mesa Sand which is a 1971 color. They started using it in 1970. I had a 1970 El Camino that color my dad bought it new. It really looks great.

    Like 1
  7. JackMember

    Is the steering wheel correct for a 1970 SS Chevelle?

    Like 0
    • Kevin Kendall

      Its the optional NK1 Comfort grip wheel for 70

      Like 2

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