Most avid car enthusiasts have heard at least a few tall tales about a rare vintage car parked in a barn somewhere. Most of us usually dismiss it as just that—a tall tale. Rumors of a 1970 Chevelle SS454 sitting in a collapsed barn in Ohio have swirled for many years around the Chevelle enthusiast circles. Solid proof confirming this story had never been available until May 2017, when a short cell phone video of the car surfaced, along with a contact email address.
An email was quickly sent to the owner in an effort to gain additional details about the Chevelle and its whereabouts. The owner responded a couple days later that the car was located just a few-minutes-drive from Urbana, Ohio, and was in fact an original 1970 SS454. The owner also explained that the barn had been slightly collapsed for many years, and the car had been parked there since 1978 and never moved.
Arrangements were immediately made to rescue the Chevelle just a few weeks later. The majority of the rafters in the barn were broken and very unstable, which made the removal of the car very dangerous. The front entrance of the barn was collapsed to the point that an attempt to remove it through the front door was rendered impossible. The only available option was to stabilize the broken rafters around the Chevelle, then knock down the concrete-block back wall of the barn and remove the car out the rear. Once the back wall of the barn was removed, a farm tractor was used to pull the Chevelle up and out of the barn and to safety for the first time in nearly 40 years.
After the Chevelle was successfully removed from the barn, the original assembly buildsheet was found and carefully removed from the inside of the passenger-side door panel. According to the buildsheet, the car was scheduled to be built on January 29, 1970 at the Lakewood Plant in Atlanta, Georgia, and sold new at Graham Chevrolet in Mansfield, Ohio. The car was optioned with the base RPO Z15 SS454 LS5 engine, raised white-letter tires, cowl-induction hood, Muncie M22 manual transmission, power steering, special instrumentation, Positraction rear differential, bucket seats, center console, door-edge guards, and front-bumper guards. The original color was Tuxedo Black with white hood and deck stripes and black-vinyl bucket-seat interior.
The original engine and transmission were not present on the Chevelle. The original engine had been removed in the mid-1970s and replaced for a small-block Chevy engine. The small-block engine went down in 1978 and was also removed from the car. The Chevelle was then parked in the barn without an engine or transmission.
1970 Chevelle SS454 RPO LS5 360hp-equipped muscle cars featured two-bolt main-bearing engine blocks; a 10.25:1 compression ratio; a high-lift, hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft; a low-rise cast-iron intake manifold; and a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor. Transmission options available behind the RPO LS5 engine were the heavy-duty Muncie M22 manual and Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic.
A 12-bolt rear axle was standard equipment with 3.31:1 gear ratio, with an optional limited-slip. Additional rear-axle gear ratios were not available for the RPO LS5 option unless dealer-installed. Total production figures for the 1970 Chevelle SS454 equipped with the base RPO LS5 engine tallied 4,298 units, 299 of which were assembled in Canada.
One interesting feature on this car is the absence of the "Customer Order" designation on the buildsheet. This designation is usually present when a car was assembled with a host of top-of-the-line options. The absence of this designation means the car was assembled to a go-fast- SS454 by the original dealer.
Now that the Chevelle has evolved from a tall-tale rumor to a true story, and after finally being rescued from its total demise, it will be going up for sale.