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Check Out This One-Owner 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6

Jungle Rat LS6: Living in the House of Horsepower

John Gilbert Mar 15, 2016
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The year was 1970 and the place a typical three-bedroom suburban home located in Orange County, California’s semi-affluent city of Westminster. Our saga begins when three young drag racers, all living at the same home address, each buy a brand-new 1970 LS6 Chevelle to race. They looked to local Chevrolet dealers with a reputation for knowing the muscle car market. Herman Hanshaw and Steve Perry went to Guaranty Chevrolet in Santa Ana, and Kent DeBord, Fletcher Jones in Westminster.

Herman and Steve, along with friends Rod Warfield and Rick Saunders, walked into Guaranty Chevrolet and all four ordered new cars. Rod Warfield spec’d out a ’70 SS396 Chevelle for his wife and the other three fellows an LS6. Herman had a specific design in mind to create the ultimate street-sleeper capable of snaring unsuspecting prey into a street race and then killing it. Instead of the usual stereo stripes and cowl-induction, Herman’s Hugger Orange LS6 was a stripes and cowl-induction delete car. True to the belief back then that power steering was a power robber, Herman ordered it sans power steering as well.

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Rick Saunders spec’d out a nearly identical LS6 as Herman’s. The only difference being an M40 TH400 automatic transmission instead of the M22 Rock Crusher Herman specified. Ultimately, Rick canceled the order for his LS6, but Herman and Steve waited until their ships came in. Steve checked all the right boxes for his Shadow Gray with black stripes cowl-induction LS6, including an M22 four-speed transmission and limited-slip differential.

Kent DeBord walked into Fletcher Jones’ Westminster Boulevard showroom and ordered the ’70 LS6 Chevelle of his dreams. It was to have been equipped like Steve Perry’s car with all the bells and whistles, but it would have the M40 TH400 automatic transmission instead. Weeks went by and Kent was becoming impatient when the salesman at Fletcher Jones called and said they had an LS6 on the lot that was equipped exactly like he had ordered, except it was Black Cherry instead of Cranberry Red.

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Within minutes after the salesman’s call, Kent, along with his mom and dad, scurried down to Fletcher Jones and checked out the car. Kent’s dad was balking at co-signing for a $5,000 Chevy, but changed his mind immediately after he went with Kent for a test drive. Kent bought the Black Cherry LS6, and that’s the car gracing these pages.

That’s right, out of the three friends that bought new LS6s, Kent still has his today. All three of the guys purpose built their cars to drag or street race. The tracks of choice were Orange County International Raceway (OCIR) and Lions, with Wednesday night grudge racing or every Saturday drag racing. Steve stuffed 4.56 gears in the rearend and mounted up five-spoke Americans on Casler slicks and had himself a 12-second-flat car. Interestingly, Steve’s LS6 didn’t have headers and always ran fully corked. Herman’s Hugger Orange Q-ship got 4.88s, headers, and chrome Rocket Racing mags with fat tires in the rear and skinny 4-inch wide rims up front. Herman’s thing was street racing. He dragged his LS6 only one weekend and it ran in the area of 12.19 while encountering severe traction problems.

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Kent dove into drag racing his LS6 with both feet. As it turned out, his girlfriend at the time, Dawn, (who eventually became his wife) could drive the car faster. Kent kept the LS6 tuned and Dawn raced the wheels off it. By late 1971, the Black Cherry acrylic lacquer was going flat and no amount of Rain Dance could make it any shinier. Kent took the car to local OC legend “Big” Al Martinez and had the LS6 repainted ’67 Corvette Marlboro Maroon with Murano pearl white stripes. Next, thinking of his job at Lion Country Safari and the Rat engine under the LS6’s hood Kent had Gary Winterberg letter “Jungle Rat” in gold leaf down each side of the quarter-panels and pull a few pinstripes. It wasn’t too long after that when the 8-year-old best friend of Dawn’s little brother scratched the LS6 with his bicycle handlebars.

Herman went into the Marines and while away his family took care of selling his LS6. Steve sold his LS6 to Rod Warfield’s daughter Patty and she continued to drag race the car with her husband. Kent and Dawn continued to drag race their LS6 twice a week until 1976, and then slowed down to only occasionally racing it although Kent was still working full time at OCIR, with an all-time best of 11.77. The last time Kent and Dawn raced their LS6 was at Super Chevy Sunday on October 29, 1983, the day OCIR closed forever.

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The DeBord’s parked the ’70 LS6 under a cover in their driveway and there it sat for 15 years. In 1998, Kent and Dawn decided they’d restore the LS6 to exactly how Kent had placed his order with Fletcher Jones in 1970 and then take it to car shows.

Kent drove the Chevelle to Prestige Auto Collision in Mission Viejo to get an estimate to repaint the car in Cranberry Red. The estimator slid his open hand across the Chevelle’s faded Marlboro Maroon paint with Jungle Rat flaking off the quarter-panels in old gold leaf and asked Kent if he was the original owner. Kent replied Yes, and the estimator announced he was David Giasone, the 8-year-old kid that had scratched the Chevelle so many years before.

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