Only 18 LS6 4 Speed Convertibles Made
It is generally accepted that there were only 18 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Convertibles fitted with the LS6 454/450 HP engine and 4-Speed transmissions constructed by Chevrolet. They were the most powerful cars of the day and the last of the breed. The extraordinary example displayed in the Ken Nagel collection is one of the 18. How many still exist is unknown as is the number that were painted Fathom Blue. Not many, that part is for sure.
This very rare and historically important car is finished in gleaming Fathom Blue with White SS stripes. The beautifully appointed Ivory interior features bucket seats and a power operated White soft top. After starting life the third week of March 1970 at the GM plant in Van Nuys California this stunning LS6 was shipped off to a sleepy little East Texas cattle/cotton railroad town near Shreveport, LA. It sat on the showroom floor at Hullett Chevrolet Company in Waskom Texas (pop. 1,460) for less than two weeks when it was sold to its first owner, James G. Reid of Shreveport.
As luck would have it, it remained in the Shreveport area far from the “rust belt” and harsh winters of a more Northern climate, where it passed thru a succession of owners. Sometime around 2003 it was acquired by Texas car collector Buddy Herin. During the car’s pre-restoration inspection, the factory “build sheet” was discovered on top of the gas tank where it lay hidden from sight for 33 years. Legend has it that the production guys in the Van Nuys plant favorite place for disposing of “build sheets” was on top of the gas tank. No one seems to know why! Exposed to the elements for all those years the paper was in very sad shape, so Buddy had the build sheet subjected to forensic analysis by a document conservator to verify its authenticity. The car has also been exhaustively researched by Rick Nelson and declared a legitimate SS 454 LS6 by Mark Meekins of the National Chevelle Owners Association, thus ensuring its place in history as one of the 18.
The incredibly detailed documentation goes all the way back to the original owner. A paper trail, consisting of copies of titles, registration records and bills of sale etc., reveals a history of multiple owners who apparently (according to the records) enjoyed every cubic inch of the powerful 454 LS6, which no doubt included some pretty quick trips between small town stop signs. There was nothing else like it in town. Cruising the main drag with the top down on summer nights and looking smokin’ hot dressed in gleaming blue paint and white racing stripes the car must have screamed, “wanna race“?. When Buddy discovered the car its condition testified to having been repainted in a different color along with modifications to the mechanicals and exhaust. The car clearly had been well used and was in dire need of attention.
Professionally restored by Car Connection in Waco, Texas, it is correctly equipped with a Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed, 3.31:1 Positraction differential, power steering and front disc brakes, F41 special performance suspension, a cowl induction hood with hood pins, Soft Ray tinted glass, center console and Super Sport wheels with White letter Goodyear Polyglas tires; a tilt steering column and AM/M stereo were added during the car’s restoration.
Enthusiasts read about the arrival of the 450-horsepower 454 in the magazines back in the day. However, they were more concerned with buying this big block in a car they could take to the drag strip and turn those incredible low 13-second times the magazines were wringing out of the LS6 Chevelle. Few people thought about buying a convertible with this high performance engine, setting up one of the most rare and desirable muscle cars of all time. A 1970 Chevelle SS 454 with the LS6 option is extremely collectible and desirable in the two-door hardtop. But, naturally, the convertible is the rare one and the more desirable body style in the collector market.
The ’70 Chevelle SS454 LS6 was the largest-displacement and most powerful car built to that time and the enduring champion of the muscle car wars. One of the most impressive combinations of the era, the 1970 Chevelle and the LS6 engine, which the factory underrated at 450 HP & 500 foot-pounds of torque, were a marriage made in muscle car heaven. The LS6 big block engine was packed with all the time-tested horsepower-producing technology, including a forged steel crank in beefy 4-bolt mains, forged steel connecting rods and aluminum pistons, a high lift, high duration solid lifter cam, an 800 CFM Holley 4-barrel on an aluminum dual plane intake manifold and gargantuan intake and exhaust valves in high flow heads. The cowl induction hood allowed it to gulp the huge amount of air needed to feed the beast.
The concept of the “American Muscle Car” was launched in 1949 when the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors installed their new “Rocket 88” high compression, overhead valve engine in the small Olds 76 body. In 1964 things really took off when John DeLorean found a loop hole in GMs’ policy and stuffed a 389 cu in V8 in the mid size Tempest and ignited the horsepower wars. The era peaked in 1970 when the Chevy Chevelle, sporting the most powerful factory production engine ever installed in a car, the legendary LS6 454/450 HP V8, became the apex predator of the day. The 454 LS6 proved, however, to be the last gasp of the Muscle Car era that was being choked into lifelessness. Car Life magazine wrote: “It’s fair to say that the Supercar as we know it may have gone as far as it’s going.” Facing a trifecta of troubles in the form of government regulation, fuel shortages and rising insurance premiums, things came to a sudden and screeching halt and the completely irrational classic age of the made in Detroit “muscle car” street racer became American Graffiti. It would be a long long time until technology caught up with government regulations but engineers kept working on even hotter engines expecting that high performance would someday again be politically correct, and they were right. But, that proved to be a case of too little too late. Unfortunately, in 1978 GM downsized its intermediate models and the Chevelle name was dropped.