Real Deal! 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

SS454 – there’s a magical letter/number combination and the ‘70 through ‘72 examples of this performance-oriented Chevelle are highly sought after. While the ’70 with its big kahuna 450 HP engine option sucks all of the air out of the room, all three years are notable performers and attractive, collectible cars. As an example, here is a genuine 1972 SS454 Chevelle and it’s available here on eBay for a BIN price of $15,000. All you have to do is get to Gentry, Arkansas and check it out!

By 1972 Chevrolet’s big 454 engine was like every other manufacturer’s performance-oriented engine, watered down to comply with recently enacted Federal Clean Air Act regulations. Nevertheless, these engines still produced reasonable horsepower and prodigious torque so having some fun was definitely still on the checklist. I mentioned recently in another Chevelle article that this vintage SS is often cloned from a lesser model and it is difficult to verify authenticity. Well we know this one is legitimate because the VIN tells us, via its fifth character “W”, that this Chevy was built with a 454 CI engine and only the SS model came equipped with a 454 engine as an option, ergo, this is a genuine 1972 SS454 Chevelle.

Now, all of that said, it’s time for a deeper dive. The original engine for this Chevelle is present. It is a 270 net HP, “LS5” derivation. It does not run. It’s not even completely together going by the included images. There are many images of the engine disassembled and I would recommend to any potential purchaser that they perform a complete teardown and perform a very thorough check. This one sounds like a potential frankenmotor and there’s no telling what was and what wasn’t (that should have been) done to this prime mover when it was rebuilt. One of the worst situations to occur is completing the build on a partially assembled engine, installing it, firing it up and blowing it up because the internals of an unknown engine weren’t inspected. It’s not all doom and gloom, of course, it’s great having the original engine and a competent machine shop can help with a lot of what seems like insurmountable problems (I know from expensive experience with a Chevy big-block!). There is a Turbo-Hydramatic 400, three-speed automatic transmission included as part of the power train. The powertrain is connected to the correct twelve bolt differential.

The body is banged up. It has rust in the floors, some in the trunk and a right-side quarter that will need to be replaced. There is also some rust in the upper windshield channel – all of the usual places for an early ‘70s GM “A” body. This car originally had a cowl induction hood but it got pinched so there is a non-cowl induction replacement present.

The interior is in lousy shape, ripped seats, no carpet, missing door cards, different/wrong dash, and the floors are, as the seller states, in need of some repair. The instrument panel isn’t connected so there’s no telling what may or may not work. Practically the entire interior in a ’72 Chevelle can be replaced with what’s available today from reproduction sources, it’s just money and time.

A #3 condition ’72 SS454 could bring somewhere in the $40K range but it’s going to take quite a bit of effort and investment to get this $15K example to #3 condition. And then there are the unknowns. There is no denying the draw that these early ’70s big-block Chevelles have, is this one worth the risk?


  1. jerry z

    That is one rough helmet! GLWS on the car.

    Like 3
  2. Tom Member

    Wow. Where do you start. Not even sure, comment to the write up, how you bring this car to a #3 condition that would be worth 40K? I am in complete disagreement with a #3 condition 1972 LS5, automatic, 270 HP car selling in today’s market at $40K. Boca Raton FL. Same Car, for sale right now, 454 matching # car, black, auto, restored very nicely 10 years ago, $35,900 asking, not selling price.

    Sorry but a 1972 Chevelle SS 454 is not the same as a 71 and really not the same as a 70 from a HP perspective alone, as a collector, much less the LS5 versus not being an LS6. All these 70-72 454 SS Chevelle’s LOOK the same but HP, determined by year, means everything to the value of these cars.

    This car needs everything. Love the write up that the block has no cracks that can be seen = means nothing to me. One look at this car with the explanation given tells me motor could be in equally bad shape.

    15K plus what, $65K or more =$80K+ in restoration gets you what, a $40K #1 – 2 car? Six figures MIGHT get it to a number one but why start with a total disaster to make a number one?

    LS6 car, different story.

    Lots of stuff stolen from it. Poor explanation of a TAN dashboard.

    Oh, one thing NOT stolen from this car was TOTAL NEGLECT. UGH !! Sorry. I’m done.

    Like 28
  3. Troy s

    Did someone use it as a boat? Too bad, that was a nice ride at one time.

    Like 4
  4. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    I’m with Tom on this one; a restoration here will be costly, far more than it will be worth when you’re done. This is a car that needs everything, there’s not much here you can just buff out. Save yourself the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention piles of money and buy the Florida car, all done, for $20k more. You’ll be glad you did.

    Like 2
  5. Kelly Waldrop

    Muscle car prices have been going down for a few years. Was at the Mecum Kissimmee event last week. Good cars that were in the 80 grand plus range are now in the 30 to 50 range now. As it stands now barn finds are not worth the time and money.

    Like 3
    • Al

      As I’ve said countless times, if interested in any of these muscle cars, the avg ones as these, 67-71 Camaro’s, etc, hang in 5 years & save up to buy todays $75k car for the future $35k car. Millenials just do NOT have the interest in anything ‘muscle’ these days. Wimps. Just look at the skinny jeans wearers. Drive by any high school during the day & look at the cars there. Trust me, Daddy would buy these kids a late model Mustang GT or Camaro SS or Challenger Hemi just for the asking so their kids are 1 up from the Smiths kids. But the kids arent asking for these. Just like when I was in HS & many of you remember HS in mid 70’s. we HAD muscle cars. The parking lots looked more like a row at Mecum. Good luck finding 1 newer Mustang GT or Camaro SS. Drive thru a HS lot for the fun of it. The interest in any muscle of old, is just not there like it used to be. (That’s great news for us that may want one in 5 yrs time). They don’t want to learn how to adjust a carb or clutch. They’re lucky to get the tire pressure spot on! So yes, a $75k today muscle for $35k in 5 years. Why? Because those $75k today cars were purchased for $10k-$20k 12-20 years ago & taken care of, it’s why the $75k today & $50k profit for doing nothing but maintenance if sold today. When those prices go back to reality at $30-$35k, they still walk away from it with a reasonable profit, not an insane one, as today. So the days of $75k muscle will come a tumblin down. Bet on it. Patience.

      Like 2
  6. Del

    I agree with Kelly.

    This price is silly

    Like 3
  7. Shane

    Ya might do more research cause that Dash and Gauges is NOT the wrong one. It has the “Standard SS Gauges with Dummy Lights”…which came in All of them unless the Optional U14 Needle Gauges with Tach was ordered. My 72 SS Big Block 402 has this exact same Dash. Tho my other 72 SS has the optional U14 because it’s a Customer Ordered vehicle. I think it’s worth what he’s asking cause they ain’t makin’ any more of em’….tho can replace everything on one these days with new repro parts.

  8. Paul C

    Not worth the price it would take to restore it.

    Like 1

    3K tops Way over priced. Someone watches to much TV.

    Like 1
  10. TimM

    The tape on the intake looks relatively new and it makes me wonder how many mice got down in the motor before they decided to make it look like they were diligent when they took it apart!!

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