396 And A 4-Speed! 1970 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The start of the ’70s decade was a fantastic time for muscle cars. This 1970 big block Camaro (6.5 L)) is claimed to be the 590th car built at the start of production. While the 396 actually displaced 402 cubic inches, Chevrolet retained the 396 badges on its cars. Producing 375 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 415-foot pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm, this “numbers matching” Camaro must have been an animal when new. It is currently for sale here on eBay with a buy it now price of $21,900. The car is located in Cohoes, New York and is definitely a project worth taking a second look at.

The car is rusty but looks salvageable. The Camaro didn’t hit the showroom floors until February 1970 and was the first Camaro offered with a rear stabilizer bar. I owned a 1973 Camaro as my first muscle car in high school and really liked the curved instrument panel and round gauges.  A buyer could select from a wide range of engine options.  All the way from a 250 cubic inch six-cylinder (155 hp) to a 396 cubic inch V8 (375 hp). Marketing information stated that the LS6 and LS7 454 V8 were to be available in 1970 but it never came to pass.

This car was fitted with a 4-speed manual transmission.  The interior has been removed and you can see how clean the sheet metal is throughout the interior. There are probably not many of the 124,901 Camaros built-in 1970 that are still on the road and being enjoyed. I know my 1973 Camaro was driven hard before I bought it and I sold it to a dealer for $700 because I couldn’t afford the maintenance.

With Camaro prices climbing, this rare SS 396 is certainly worth restoring. Painted in Classic Copper with a saddle interior, this car would turn every head as it pulled into a car show.  The buyer has put a pretty high price on the car for a project but they are accepting offers.

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Comments

  1. poseur Member

    oh my….have never seen one of these in person in all my years.
    looks completely salvageable.
    super cool if that’s the original purchase receipt and doc’s in photo on auction.
    rusty but dang, very tempting!

    6
  2. DayDreamBeliever Member

    This car is certainly restorable, and to a very stock condition. There does appear to be one spot on the pan which has rust-through, on the right ahead of the rear axle. Someone has been at the underside with a whizz wheel, removing scale and old undercoating.

    The decision for a new owner would be whether to clean it up more, fix the body rust and wrinkles, give the car a paint job and go…. Or take it all the way by doing a complete rotisserie job.

    Then there is the recollection that the partial frames on these cars could be damaged by aggressive driving, so… add subframe connectors, and do a bit of resto-modding?

    I’m a fan of getting it out on the road and driving it, no matter which way it is brought back!

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  3. Jeff D.

    This is not a 375HP 396. If you read the ad, it’s a 350 HP 396….HUGE difference. The 375 HP is 4 bolt main, solid lifter, aluminum intake, Holley carb engine, and a solid 6 figure car restored. The 350HP is 2 bolt, hydraulic lifter, cast iron intake and a Q-Jet…..still potent, and all the good expensive engine pieces are there…..but probably worth about half the 375HP car restored……so at $21K, probably the far side. But you gotta start higher than you are gonna get, right? Floors look good, so probably in the mid to high teens, well bought. Good luck, somebody will be getting a seldom seen very rare car.

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    • jerry z

      Yes this is a 350hp version. Never seen a quadrajet on a 375hp car, any car.

      1
  4. Troy s

    Don’t know the numbers but I wonder just how many second gen SS396 Camaros were built? Think it was pulled after ’71.(?) I’m sure I’ve seen an original one but I just don’t remember when or where.( engine swapped 427/454 backyard hot rods and racers don’t count in this case).
    Not my favorite color and with the hot 396 the tires and even the wheels look all wrong. Could be a real gem, however…

    1
    • Glenn

      There were about 1100 396 cars for 1971 and 750 or so for 1972. These were designated as LS-3. This car is an L-48 350hp 396 car, not the big-dog L-78 375hp version. Any 396 Gen-II is a rare car. I keep a registry of the 71-72 LS3 396 cars, and so far I have only documented about 60 with their original drivetrains. 98% of the Big Block Camaro’s I see are cloned fakes or a hot road where someone dropped a 454 in. For an amazing amount of info about these cars, visit: NastyZ28.com

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      • Troy s

        Thanks for the feedback, Glenn. Funny, but I’m thinking the LT-1 350 had higher advertised horsepower in ’71 and ’72, which I never knew the 396 was available that year. Must of had something to do with it.
        In a very strange sort of way these gen 2 big block Camaros remind me of the cobra jet powered Fairlanes and Torino’s I lusted after as a young man in the eighties. I knew Ford had built them but they were practically invisible both for sale and on the street/strip….anywhere.

      • DAVID

        😄 hav a 70 396 4 bolt, 885 square port, all new, primed not fired 😎

  5. Dave

    This is some car. Too bad there is no photo of the front. I recall there were two bumper configurations offered. One more appealing than the other. Yes, tighten up that frame. Nothing wrong with making it better than it was in 1970. This copper color is really catchy, in my opinion the best. The factory rims on it are not correct and don’t look as good as the original. Again, just wow.

    2
    • Glenn

      The RS nose (split bumper) was optional on any Camaro 70-73. It was actually heavier than the full bumper nose. I’ve seen pics of this car before and if memory serves, it’s a full bumper car. It also has the Deluxe interior option…and the new owner is in for a shock when time comes to replace those door panels! Rebuildables are $750-$1000 and restored ones are $2k to$2500.

      2
  6. JoeNYWF64

    I wonder if chevy tried a test mule 2nd gen camaro with a 400 SMALL block & 4 barrel.
    Would have been, what, 100 lb less than a big block?

    1
    • local_sheriff

      I agree on the weight savings when using a SB. But don’t forget the 400SB was never a high-winding performer in STOCK form, more of a stump puller designed for heavier cars and trucks.

      A 4barrel alone wouldn’t necessarily make it scream – you’d have to follow up with a more aggressive cam and intake designed for higher RPMs to turn it into a fun mill for a lightweight Camaro.

      Reducing weight is always beneficial both for driver and performance – that’s why SB strokers have become so popular

      2
    • Troy s

      I remember more than a few machines having a 406 cubic inch small block, even a few local stock car racers. Figure that’s a 400 bored out a little. Using a smaller stroke from the 350 nets 372(?) Inches, or 377.
      It really is too bad neither Chevy or Ford made high performance versions of their lighter weight 400’s,, although when they were offered… high performance was not the goal.

      1
    • Blyndgesser

      The 400 small block has siamesed cylinder bores. When tuned for high performance this leads to hot spots that can cause failure of either the head gaskets, the heads themselves, or even a cracked block. That’s why most builders of hot small blocks use a slightly overbored 350 block with a 400 crank to max out at 383 cubic inches. This is also GM’s approach for SBC crate engines.

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      • Glenn

        Back in the day, we found clean 2-Bolt 400 blocks. The smallest overbore possible. The we used older small-journal 327 cranks and rods. The crank was offset ground to fit the smaller rod journals. The result was a SB427. But yes, they ran hot and needed to be rev-limited.

        4
  7. David G

    Nice car. Just yesterday I was having a discussion with a friend about 2nd gen big block Camaros. He was saying the last 396 Camaro was a ’69 model. I told him they were available in ’70 for sure. He didn’t believe me, so I will link this to him as proof. Now the only question left is whether ’70 was the last year, or was the 396 an option in ’71 as well?

    1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Glenn answers your question above. Not just ’71, but ’72 also!

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