Work-In-Progress: 1970 Chevelle SS 396

The SS 396 continued as an option on the Chevelle Malibu or El Camino for 1970. More than 62,300 were built, so it was not a rare car then and not too hard to find now, depending on condition. These automobiles are also popular with those wanting to clone an SS 396 out of a standard Malibu. This ’70 Chevelle SS 396 is said to be the real deal, although it’s no longer numbers matching as it spent some time years ago at the drag strip. Located in East Greenbush, New York and in great running condition now, this Chevrolet is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $16,900.

Chevy offered two categories of the Chevelle Super Sport in 1970. RPO Z25 signified the SS 396 (which really carried a 402 cubic inch motor, which is another story) and RPO Z15, which applied to the SS 454. The production split was 85 to 15% in favor of the “396”. Since either was available back then – and with all the repro parts and fake documentation around today – it’s extremely hard to tell a true 1970 SS Chevelle from a Malibu. ItStillRuns gives us some hints as what to look for. The 3637 series of numbers in this car’s VIN at least confirms the Malibu.

As the story goes, a prior owner would take this car out to the drag strip, so it was not gently used over the years. The seller says it went into dry storage in the late 1990s and stayed there until he acquired it. Before or after the seller got hold of the car, the original drivetrain was replaced by a 396/4-speed from a 1969 Camaro. So, this engine displaces a true 396 cubic inches rather than the 402 of a year later. The seller says he’s spent considerable time and money in the past year getting it running, reliable and road worthy again. The list of replaced parts includes:

  • Radiator, alternator, and starter
  • Gas tank, sending unit, and fuel pump
  • Complete tune-up i.e., plugs, wires, etc.

In addition, the SS wheels have been restored with a new set of raised-white letter tires all way around. Headers and new shift linkage have also been added and we’re told the car now runs like a top. This Chevelle had a bench seat up front, and the upholstery all looks original, but tired now in places. The door panels have been replaced while the dashboard seems to have survived well on its own.

Most of the work remaining on this car likely applies to the body. We’re not certain whether it was black to begin with as it looks to wear black primer everywhere except the hood (red primer there). We’re told the car received new lower rear quarter panels back in the 1980s and some evidence of bondo is there today. The floorboards are good except in the very front. But the trunk floor is rusty and looks to have been cut on, perhaps from its drag racing days?

These cars can command big bucks these days, with original copies being worth more than the clones or tributes that are out there. But since this Chevy no longer has its original drivetrain and will need a lot of cosmetic attention, what’s a reasonable price to pay for this SS 396? Has the bidding started to top out or is there more room to go?

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    The sellers says the stickers prove it’s an old race car. If that’s the case, I’ve got thousands of performance stickers and decals dating back to the 1950’s, does that mean I could stick them in the underside of the trunk lid of a rusty, beat up project and call it an old “race car”?

    The 71 Rally Sport Camaro he also has listed is worth a look also.

    Steve R

    Like 5
    • JOHN Member

      That Camaro RS he has for sale is a pile of rust held somewhat together by paint, it needs everything!

      Like 1
      • Steve R

        Yes it does need everything, however, they look cool. Besides, this site hasn’t featured a rusty early second generation Camaro RS in a while.

        Steve R

        Like 2
  2. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This car needs to be turned into a time machine and get parked back in the late ’70’s High School parking lot where it belongs.

    So many cars like this back then. Nothing to look at, but pop the hood and it was a different story. Could have been all bling, or a transplanted monster.

    Like 1

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