"The first time I laid eyes on that pretty blue with white stripes, I knew I wanted it," says Brenda Wallace. Brenda has lived in a small rural town just outside of Clarksville, Tennessee, her entire life and is still the proud owner of a 1970 Chevelle SS396 she purchased new. "In July 1970, I decided I wanted a new car," Brenda says. "I asked my brother, Danny Wallace, to accompany me to make sure I was treated fairly, and we headed to Wright Chevrolet in Clarksville, Tennessee, to look at the new 1970 models."
Brenda was currently driving a 1965 Ford Galaxie four-door and was in the market for a sharp, eye-catching two-door sport coupe. "When my brother saw the 1970 Chevelle SS396, he said that's the one we need," Brenda explains. A deal was made.
This one-owner Chevelle still retains its original buildsheet and warranty card to prove its authenticity. "It was assembled at the Lakewood Plant in Atlanta, Georgia, the third week of March 1970," Brenda confirms. The original buildsheet was discovered glued to the backside of the driver-side interior door panel—normal procedure for assembly-plant workers at the Lakewood plant at the time.
According to the buildsheet, the car was optioned with the base RPO Z25 SS396 package, raised white-letter tires, cowl-induction hood, automatic transmission, power steering, center console, and bucket seats. The original color was Fathom Blue with white hood and deck stripes (RPO D88 hood and deck stripes were included with RPO ZL2 cowl induction hood) and black-vinyl interior.
The 1970 Chevelle SS396 was equipped with the base RPO L34 engine, featuring two-bolt main engine blocks with 4.125-inch bores, a 3.76-inch stroke crankshaft, a 10.25:1 compression ratio, a high-lift, hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft, a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, and a low-rise, cast-iron intake manifold. Transmission options available behind the RPO L34 engine were the wide-ratio Muncie M20 manual, the close-ratio Muncie M21 manual, and a Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic.
A 12-bolt rear axle was standard equipment with a 3.31:1 gear ratio and an optional limited slip. Additional rear-axle gear ratios were not available for the base RPO L34 engine, unless installed by the dealer. Total production figures for the 1970 Chevelle SS396 equipped with the base L34 engine tallied 51,455 units. (Because the RPO L34 engine was not offered as a separate option, this figure omits the total 2,144 RPO L78 engine-upgrade units.)
In 1970, Brenda was just barely past her teenage years and was known around the area for her speeding habits in the hot Chevelle. "It would only take me 12 minutes to travel the 20 miles to the edge of Clarksville, Tennessee," she says. "I absolutely loved that cowl-induction hood. I would try to keep that flapper door wide open the entire 20 miles."
Today, Brenda's driving habits are tame in comparison to her wild ways back in the early 1970s. She still resides in the same home she lived in almost 47 years ago when she purchased the new Chevelle in July 1970. The Chevelle has been stored in the same concrete-block building on her property its entire life and hasn't seen the road since 1994.
So, what's in store for the Chevelle? Brenda says, "I have future plans to fully restore the Chevelle to its original beauty. Not many people can say they purchased a new 1970 Chevelle SS396 and never parted with it. I still remember how pretty this car was when it was new and I want to drive it at least one more time. I'm just an ol'e country girl with a lead foot, and I'd love to use it again." Once the restoration is complete, we would love to see her use that lead foot and make a few passes with this awesome Chevelle at the racetrack. How about you?
If you feel you have a rare-find story you would like to share, contact Patrick G. Nichols at email@example.com. Follow me on Facebook at Patrick Glenn Nichols.