Unveiling the Legendary 1970 Chevelle SS454: A Black Beauty with Unmatched Power

The 1970 model year marked a significant turning point in the realm of muscle cars, especially concerning big-block engines. While Chrysler showcased their exciting new 440-6 and Hemi ‘Cudas and Challengers, and Ford offered the potent 429-inch Boss and Super Cobra Jets, the most groundbreaking news emerged from the GM franchises. It was during this time that a midsize offering, right off the factory floor, came equipped with an engine larger than 400 cubic inches, forever altering the course of automotive history.

The Birth of the 454:

In contrast to the previous years’ limited-production Hurst Olds and COPO Chevrolets, GM began manufacturing muscle cars with powerful engines from Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac, originally reserved for their larger luxury cars. At Chevrolet, the legendary 427 engine made way for a new, over-square powerplant featuring a 4.251-inch bore and 4-inch stroke—a powerhouse known as the 454. With its well-designed construction and exceptional breathing capabilities, the optimal LS6 variant of the 454 unleashed a remarkable 450 horsepower, solidifying its status as a true icon of the muscle car era. Although an even more potent version, the LS7, was announced with a rating of 365 horsepower, it never saw the light of day.

The Pinnacle of Performance:

The 1970 model year proved to be the zenith of the performance era. However, as the ’71 models arrived, GM implemented reduced compression ratios across the lineup, resulting in the LS6’s power dropping to 325 horsepower. Subsequently, just like its Hemi and Super Cobra Jet counterparts, the LS6 vanished from the scene in the ’72 model year. Hence, when incorporated into the redesigned Chevelle, the 450hp ’70 LS6 secured its rightful place as an everlasting symbol of muscle car excellence amidst a revolutionary period in the automotive industry.

A Rare Gem:

When Tim and Pam Wellborn decided to share their muscle car collection with the public, they knew it needed to encompass more than just their renowned assortment of Mopars. With this goal in mind, Tim set out to find exceptional examples of the pivotal ’70 models. Among these acquisitions were a W-30 4-4-2, a Buick GSX, a Ram Air IV GTO, and a Boss 429 Mustang. However, one particular vehicle stands out—the LS6 Chevelle.

Renowned restorer Roger Gibson fittingly dubbed this car “Big Horse in Black,” emphasizing its position as an extraordinary amalgamation within the muscle car realm. It is important to note that Gibson, who hails from Missouri, did not restore this vehicle. Instead, what you see before you is an original car, boasting a mere 33,550 miles on its odometer.

The Right Choice:

Tim recounts the serendipitous encounter that led to his ownership of this exceptional Chevelle: “During the 2005 Mecum’s Florida auction, I was on the lookout for a Challenger convertible when I noticed this triple-black SS454 Chevelle parked nearby. As I delved into its history, I became increasingly convinced that it was the perfect addition to our collection. Needless to say, the Challenger did not make it home with me.”

Interestingly, this Chevelle has a rather ironic Mopar connection. It was originally sold at the Mills Chevrolet dealership in Moline, Illinois. However, its first owner traded it in for a new ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda merely a year later. The car then found its way into the hands of Ivan Schildhegn from Lancaster, Wisconsin, who cherished it until his passing in 2004. Ivan’s daughter shared stories of how he would tape off the chrome 454 logos on this all-black, cowl-delete machine, effortlessly surprising unsuspecting stoplight competitors who dismissed it as an ordinary SS-package car.

Impeccable Originality:

The Chevelle was delivered with minimal options. The SS454 package included the LS6 engine, F70-14 Wide Oval tires mounted on Super Sport wheels, dual exhaust, a domed hood (sans cowl induction), blackout grille treatment, power disc brakes, chrome wheel moldings, blackout rear panel, bright engine accent group, Astro ventilation, hidden wipers, glovebox light, trunk light, cigarette lighter, and standard seat belts—a necessity considering the car’s power.

Tim’s unwavering commitment to originality and provenance is evident in this vehicle. It comes complete with a Protect-O-Plate, build sheet, window sticker, and meticulous records of every service, down to the oil changes and emissions testing. Ivan remained the registered owner of the car until his passing. Additionally, while Roger Gibson lavished care and attention to detail on the car’s exterior, the bolts, belts, and hoses remain as they were when installed at the factory. Remarkably, the price of this sparsely optioned car in its heyday was $4,585, a relatively modest sum considering the notoriety it would later achieve. Naturally, Tim paid a bit more when he acquired it 35 years later.

A Timeless Experience:

“There’s no denying the exceptional build quality of original GM vehicles,” Tim remarks with conviction. “Driving this car feels like stepping back in time. It’s an indescribable sensation, one that cannot be replicated. Coupled with its extensive documentation—since replicating an LS6 installation is relatively easy—this Chevelle is truly exceptional. Anyone who lays eyes on it can’t help but appreciate its beauty.”


The 1970 Chevelle SS454 remains an emblem of power and performance in the automotive world. With its legendary LS6 engine, iconic design, and unparalleled charisma, this black beauty has secured its place in history. From its originality and meticulous documentation to the thrilling experience it offers on the road, the 1970 Chevelle SS454 stands as a testament to the golden age of muscle cars.


1. How many 1970 Chevelle SS454s were produced?

  • The exact number is difficult to determine, but approximately 4,475 Chevelle SS454s were produced in 1970.

2. What is the significance of the LS6 engine?

  • The LS6 engine is renowned for its power and performance. With an optimal rating of 450 horsepower, it became an icon of the muscle car era.

3. Is the 1970 Chevelle SS454 a rare car today?

  • Yes, the 1970 Chevelle SS454 is considered a rare and highly sought-after collector’s car due to its limited production numbers and enduring appeal.

4. How much does a well-preserved 1970 Chevelle SS454 typically cost?

  • The value of a well-preserved 1970 Chevelle SS454 can vary depending on factors such as its condition, originality, and documentation. However, prices can range from $50,000 to over $150,000.

5. What makes the 1970 Chevelle SS454 special compared to other muscle cars of the era?

  • The 1970 Chevelle SS454 stands out due to its distinctive design, raw power, and the legendary status of the LS6 engine. It represents a pinnacle moment in the history of muscle cars.

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