Hidden Muscle: 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

A Q-Ship is a heavily disguised naval ship that hides concealed weapons. If there is such a thing as a Q-Car, then this 1970 Chevelle is probably pretty close. Under that “Plain Jane” exterior lies a big-block engine that produces 330hp, and should make this Chevelle really get up and go. If this is a car that really appeals to you, it is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and listed for sale here on eBay.

It can be hard to see exactly what sins are being hidden under black paint, especially in photos like these. I will say that nothing obvious jumps out at me. The owner supplies some shots of the floors and the trunk, and they reinforce his claim that the car is solid. The black wheels and poverty hubcaps allow the car to easily slip under the radar.

Just when you might have been expecting a 6-cylinder engine or, at best, a small-block, we spring the hood and reveal a 402ci big-block. The owner is not forthcoming on the specifications of this engine, but even allowing for the worst case scenario, it should be pumping out 330hp. That engine is backed by an automatic transmission. The car is a running project, but there are a few detail items to be completed such as the exhaust before it hits the road. I did notice that the car is fitted with power brakes, but I’m not sure whether it also has power steering.

The interior will need its share of spit and polish to bring it back to life, although the basics are present. The covers on the seats have multiple small tears. The seats can be used as they are, but if you want to achieve a decent presentation, then this will need to be addressed. The door trims look reasonable, but the armrests, dash pad, headliner, and carpet will all need to be placed on the shopping list. I also noticed that the needle on the speedometer appears to be buried at around the 80mph mark, so that will require investigating. All in all though, once the interior has been restored, a black on black car with poverty looks and reasonable horsepower sounds like a fun package to me.

At the time of writing, bidding on the Chevelle has reached $7,900, but the reserve hasn’t been met. I don’t find that surprising. I guess that there are a couple of options with this Chevelle if you bought it. You could turn it into an SS clone, but there are plenty of clones kicking around, so that’s probably going to be a waste of your time and money. You could perform a custom build and make the car anything that you wanted. Or you could complete the work required to get the car back on the road in its current guise and proceed to scare the living daylights out of any boy racers at the traffic lights.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email


  1. Big_Fun Member

    Because I have the flu and can’t sleep at this hour, I did a little decode of the cowl tag, and this is indeed a factory V8 Chevelle “Standard” coupe. I thought it might be an original 6 cyl. Originally, it was Cranberry Red with a Black Vinyl top, and the interior is “Black Ransom Cloth ‘coated’ fabric”. Look closely, and you’ll see the factory A/C components are there – obviously the compressor is missing (as well as the radio).
    The hood is an SS hood, not available on this model. And, the LS3 330 hp 402 ‘400’ cars are very rare, with just over 1,820 built for 1970. It’s definitely been messed with, but, I guess, what is the goal of having this car? Factory correct, or mean street machine? I think I know the answer…

    • Will Fox

      I’d enjoy seeing the VIN. I’d bet this left the factory with an inline 6. This car’s had 49 years to be messed with. And besides, it’s a Chevy. It HAD to be messed with.

  2. J_Paul Member

    Having poverty caps does not a sleeper make, and it’s definitely not stock. So I see this more as a blank canvas for the owner to do what they will.

    Also…my first comment as a member! Ooh, exciting.

    • Tom Member

      Not sure what you mean by “not stock”? I don’t see anywhere if it is a numbers matching car? So….IF it is numbers matching and that is the original engine this is, in my opinion, a rare car and NOT a blank canvas and should be restored to the build sheet. Some minor improvements are warranted for safety and handling.

      IF it is NOT the original numbers matching engine….blank canvas it is!

      Any vehicle with a strong drive train and decent performance that is “made” to look like it is not powerful, including removal of emblems, base looking wheels, modest appearance….or even poor in appearance …..that’s a sleeper.

  3. CapNemo

    The door panels that the trim is mounted on looks pretty decent too.

  4. kelly g

    i like it. im broke.

  5. RoughDiamond Member

    I live in Chattanooga and have never seen that black Chevelle beast on the streets. Must just come out at night to play.

  6. stillrunners

    Most street racers are keen to a poverty cap car…running rumbling dual exhaust sound !

  7. CCFisher

    If it’s a real LS3 in a base Chevelle, it deserves full restoration. Just over 8000 base Chevelle coupes were built. Any of those equipped with one of the 1820 LS3s (across all Chevelle/Malibu/El Camino/Wagon production) would be exceptionally uncommon. Not as valuable as an SS, perhaps, but definitely more unusual and more interesting.


    Usually I am the keep it stock advocate however my first thought was change the front suspension to coil over, no SS clone, just make a nice car that can corner too. Keep big block, add cam headers and performer intake for a few more ponies. ENJOY

  9. david

    I feel any remaining, nice-looking Chevelles are no longer “Q-ships”. If the owner has made the effort to keep a late 60s – early 70s car looking nice or to restore it, he’s probably hopped it up (or it’s a model worth keeping). At the very least, the fact they look like the pure inversion of a Prius makes them not a candidate for Q-ship status.

    An ’07 Prius with an LS tucked under the hood would be a Q-ship.

    • BMW4RunninTundra Member

      I was at the Toyota dealership today for an oil change on the Tundra. As I was waiting, there was a young man picking up his new Prius. He was apparently quite pleased with his purchase based on the amount of selfies and the degree he was going to, in order to take them. Then, during his one man celebration, the tech pulls out my fire breathing V8 (full K&N with a comp chip), exhaust (Borla) rumbling, gas hog, right next to him. Thankfully he was still in “Self Eco Mode” and didn’t notice the polar opposite of what he just bought.
      Has nothing to do with the car listed here. Just a funny I thought of when David brought up the “Prius” word.

  10. Larry Hawkins

    Poverty hubcaps are so unappealing on upscale and performance cars.

    • Tom Member

      Everyone has an opinion. Larry, it is a “thing”. You might not like it but many guys go out of their way to build a monster and do all they can to make it NOT look like it. Steel wheels and dog dish center caps…..in my opinion….look great on many old high HP muscle cars. Nice wheels look great too.

      My favorite was pulling up to a Fox Body mustang years ago….clearly a ground pounding beast….he had factory looking wheels modified to fit the giant street slicks in the tubbed out rear end with the “2.8” badges on fender. He could not hide as a sleeper by the sound but by the look….he did pretty good.

      Like I said, it is a “thing”. You don’t have to like it.

  11. Nicholas Triplett

    Chattanooga TN….John Lee Pettimore’s old Dodge better watch out.

  12. R. P. Pettibone

    And just how is this a barn find….lol!

  13. ctmphrs Member

    Dog dish hubcaps and a hood scoop will never fool any street racer.

  14. Del

    Lotta blather here but no real info.

    Can’t anyone decode the cowl tag ?

    Probably left factory as a 350 ? Or even a smaller V8.

    I do not pay attention to auction bidding. Most winners do not follow through as far as I can see, and its a stupid way to buy a car. Why buy something you have not inspected ?

    • Tom Member

      Isn’t the very first entry on this list by Big_Fun the decoding of the cowl tag?

  15. Lemble

    This base car is screaming for a HellCat Hemi and an Art Morrison Chassis.

  16. JOHN

    flat hood and drive it the way it is!

  17. Rick Karrasch

    Best sleeper I actually knew was a friend’s 59 Chevy 4 door SEDAN (posts) dull gray about 6 years old at the time. Only clue was 4 speed lever and 2 rusty tailpipes.
    It was a 350 hp 348 with Muncie trans to test that trans real-world before marketing.
    This was in Muncie and the guy worked at the plant

  18. skibum2

    In 1965 I saw the best “sleeper” I have ever seen.. S.E.Salem Oregon, pulled into a gas station on Pauline Ave SE and saw a 1948 Chrysler four door with broken suspension..( remember when they would kick down the drive tire).. Owner opened the hood and had a FULL BLOWN 426 HEMI under the hood..Car was that crappy green too.. (right out of the barn).. Ahhh….nothing else compares.. LOVED IT. ’55 had 283 powerglide, would not even get out of it’s own way.. Hahahahahahaa

    • 68custom

      Unless changed the four speed would have been a B,W -T/10 but a neat sleeper regardless!

  19. Troy s

    Neat car, most likely a base engine car originally that has been “hopped up”, just like so many other cars I remember. If it was a four door complete grocery getting style of Malibu with maybe a missing hub cap or two, single tail pipe still there despite the two dumps underneath, colored in a boring tan or beige all the while concealing a 383 stroker motor and a very well hidden nitrous button that would truly deserve the q-ship tag. Those in the know wouldn’t take this ride lightly.

  20. rancoracing

    If you have seen the asking price for those hubcaps lately, you wouldn’t call them “poverty”.

  21. 68custom

    If this is a real malibu 400 it is a rare beast! Most have become Ss,s over the years!

  22. Mark

    Nice car I like it! I did notice the column shifter has the powerglide indicator-PRNDL.

  23. Del

    I reviewed all this. Guess it is a rare 402 but if that is the original engine then its about the only thing on the car that is.

    Hood wrong. Was an auto . Colors changed. Not worth much all in.

  24. 86_Vette_Convertible

    IIRC wasn’s there a “Heavy Chevy” model around that era, pretty much a GM version of a RR? Big engine, heavy suspension in a low buck body.
    That’s what this one looks like to me if it wasn’t home built.

  25. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Sold for $11,001.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.