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1970's Golden Chevy Era - Rare V-8 Performance History Part 5

1970-1972: The End Of The World As We Knew It.

By Doug Marion, Photography by Doug Marion

Try and remember what was shakin' in the Chevy world back in 1970 to 1972, and while you're at it, you might want to recall what evolved with the various Chevy V-8 engines since 1955.

We think 80 to 90 percent of what's important today first happened back then, but it's never been fully documented. While 1970 was the beginning of a new decade, it was the last year of a great high-performance decade-and-a-half.

It was also the first year for peak RPO engine cubic-inch-displacement (454), as well as King of the Hill for maximum advertised horsepower (450) in the golden age (1955-1970) of Chevrolet performance.

For many Chevelle fans, 1970 was when the best-looking Chevy of all time was created. You know, "America's Greatest Super Car," the LS6 454 Chevelle Super Sport. We think the '70-'72 Chevelle side, roof and rear lines are unparalleled, and the 1970 front-end design is absolutely Number One.

Chevy for 1970 also introduced the Monte Carlo and an all-new second-generation Camaro. You bet there were other great-looking models and front ends. Perhaps the very best is yet to come if you consider the upcoming 2010 Camaro.

Total 1970 Chevelle V-8 sales were 594,738. That's averages out to nearly 12,500 in each of the lower 48 state. Its V-8 Sport Coupe sales were exactly 316,000. Add in another 45,865 V-8 El Camino sales. Super Sport 454 totals were 13,248, of which there were 8,773 RPO 360hp LS5s and 4,475 RPO 450 hp LS6s.

Super Sport 396 (402) Chevelles included 2,144 RPO L78, 375hp versions and 53,599 RPO L34, 350hp 396s (402). Another 9,338 Chevelles had the 330hp, oval port 396 (402) RPO LS3. The L34 and L78 were made prior to the introduction of the SS 454, according to GM assembly line lore. Lastly, 18 big-block L78 396 (402) Chevelles were ordered with L89 aluminum cylinder heads. Total for V-8 Chevelle convertibles was 7,141.

The first year Monte Carlo ended up selling a grand total of 145,976, which included 3,823 SS 454s. The Monte was introduced as Chevrolet's top-of-the-line entry to compete with the Ford Thunderbird and the Pontiac Grand Prix. It was essentially an SS Chevelle from the firewall back, less the taillights. The front end was extended and featured singular headlights.

Novas continued to be popular in 1970. The Super Sport sales included 1,802 350 horsepower and 3,765 375 horsepower 396s (402). Would you believe the total 1970 Nova sport coupe sales were a whopping 226,283? That's 70 percent of total production. And 107,667 of them were powered by V-8s.

The new Super Sabre-looking, second-generation Camaro had V-8 sales totaling 112,323. Not bad considering its late introduction. A GM assembly plant labor issue caused the '69 Camaro to be sold through December, 1969. Records show that the '70 Camaro did not arrive until February, leaving only six months for sales.

By Doug Marion
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