The 1970 Chevelle SS396 “Barn Find” that donned the cover of the November 2016 issue of Car Craft magazine is scheduled to roll across the auction block at Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 18-22, 2017.
This 1970 Chevelle SS396 was found parked in a storage lot in Fresno, California in January 2016. It was parked there in 1983 and never moved. The registered owner during the 30-plus years of hibernation had no intention of ever selling the car and had plans of restoring it someday. Those plans changed in 2015 and it was put up for sale on a single social media site in a private group setting showing only four pictures.
The original option list to this car’s drivetrain is equally remarkable. It was ordered with the RPO (Regular Production Option) Z25 SS396 package with the 375hp RPO L78 engine option upgrade. The manual transmission was also upgraded to the optional RPO M21 and the rear axle received the RPO G80 Positraction option coupled with the RPO ZQ9 4.10:1 performance ratio upgrade.
This car also represents the end of an era for Chevrolet intermediates. In 1970 General Motors finally decided to lift its corporate ban on engines larger than 400 cubic inches in an intermediate sized car. In October 1969, Chevrolet Motor Division prepared a memorandum to notify Chevrolet dealerships that RPO L78 SS396 engine option was being discontinued in the Chevelle, and therefore instructed dealers to offer RPO LS6 SS454 option as its replacement.
Only 2,144 1970 SS396 Chevelles were equipped with the RPO L78 engine option and very few are in existence today. This car was assembled the second week of November 1969 at the Van Nuys, California assembly plant. It also retains its original build sheet that was retrieved from the top of the gas tank in February 2016. This car is 1 of only 30 1970 SS396 L78 Chevelles that are registered in Dale Macintosh’s International Chevelle L78 Registry (www.chevelleregistry.macswebs.com), which requires the existence of sufficient documentation in order to be registered. See it in person at the Russo and Steele auction in January.