Real Deal Roller? 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396

Chevrolet’s new mid-size car, the Chevelle, debuted in 1964. With it came the utility coupe El Camino which was based on the Chevelle’s 2-door station wagon platform. So, it was natural that when the Chevelle would add a performance model, the Super Sport, the El Camino would soon follow. That was also the case with the El Camino SS 396 in 1970, though it saw lower production numbers. This ’70 edition is said to be a real SS 396, but its engine is gone, and the truck’s gone through at least one color change. Located in Maple Valley, Washington, this pickup project is available here on eBay. The bidding stands at $5,100 with no reserve.

Neither the Chevelle nor the El Camino SS models were separate series in 1970, so production numbers get a little sketchy. We do know that ’70 El Camino V8 production in total was 40,728 units (outselling its rival, the Ford Ranchero), plus another 539 with an inline-6 engine. One El Camino enthusiast went on a fact-finding mission a few years and concluded that there were 6,468 SS 396s and another 1,059 SS 454s. If that’s correct, that means there are fewer El Camino SS survivors or restorations around today that Malibu-based models.

If an El Camino left the factory with a SS 396 set-up, the engine displacement was 402 cubic inches. The 396/402 was offered in 350 hp (L34) and 375 hp (L78) varieties. Though the motor is gone from the seller’s pickup, its TH-400 automatic transmission remains. Since the mileage is unknown, there is no idea how worn out the overall truck is which looks as though it once stayed busy.

When it left the factory, this El Camino wore white paint and a black vinyl top. Today, it has rough orange paint that resembles Hugger Orange and the vinyl material on the roof is long gone. While the truck has a bench seat and a column shift for the tranny, the seller has a set of Malibu bucket seats and a console with floor shift that was planned for the Chevy. A new dash pad and rebuilt tilt steering also come along for the ride.

The truck wears factory SS-style wheels and an aftermarket functional cowl induction hood should you want to go with that arrangement with your newly sourced V8. But you’ll want to address its rust in the front fenders, right rear quarter panel, and roof panel before dealing with mechanical issues. Too bad there is no reference to a built sheet or something else that would verify this truck as a real deal SS 396. They can be worth plenty, even if not numbers-matching.

Comments

  1. Jon

    Well, it is a Leeds car with the infamous L on the trim plate so its got that going for it. …which is nice.

    Like 1
  2. Danny

    JON, what do you mean by a Leeds Car with the “infamous L” on the trim plate? Thanks

    • Jon

      There has been a long running debate in the Chevelle world that the L on the trim tag may be an indication of the car being a legit SS. Most documented Leeds Super Sports from 69-72 have the L on the trim tag. There are MANY threads on this over at chevelles.com. Here is just one example. https://www.chevelles.com/threads/1969-ss-396-convertible-l-on-trim-tag.143660/#post-1044694

      Jon

      Like 1
      • Danny

        Jon, so what is the answer? Are these cars accepted as true SS cars or not? I have a 70 Chevelle SS (has the correct SS dash, back bumper SS emblem, Bucket Seats etc. was automatic in the floor, does have the exterior ss 396 etc on it. However, the car is missing the engine and transmission, and was missing the rear end) with the L code also? thanks

  3. ChevelleSS

    In terms of ‘rarity’ the bench seat, column shift should be left as-is. Well, new seat cover anyway… That being said, the cloth bench adds another tic mark to the rarity score.
    Maybe not as ‘cool’ as buckets with a floor shifter but originality on these Elco’s is more important in my book.

    Like 2
    • Stan

      Exactly 🎯 ChevelleSS

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