Cranberry Red
Black
396 V8
3 Speed Automatic

This 1970 Chevelle SS396 convertible is my most recent pick for Car That Won't Last a Week here at RK Motors Charlotte. I've been right 5 out of the last 7 times I've made such a prediction, and while I'd like to say I'm some kind of genius or psychic, the reality is that great cars at the right price sell quickly. It's that simple, and this is a REALLY nice car for a REALLY good price.

First off, look at the price again you already know it isn't a documented, matching-numbers SS396 convertible, so don't flood us with E-mails asking about date codes and documentation, because none of that matters on this Chevelle. No, this car is all about big block, top-down fun in a bright red package with factory A/C. All the hard work is done, and all that is left is to drive and enjoy this gorgeous car.

But I do understand that details are important to our customers, and I enjoy the puzzle that comes from decoding a card numbers. According to the body tag, this ragtop has been repainted in its original Cranberry Red paint scheme (code 75). It was built in the first week of July (07A), and originally came with a black bench seat interior (code 755). If you know these cars well, you also know that the VIN reveals only that it's a Chevrolet (1), Chevelle with an 8 cylinder motor (36), in the convertible body style (67), built in 1970 (0), in Baltimore (B).

I'm going to also point out that this car is highly accurate and that the restorer recreated all the little details that separate the SS models from their garden-variety siblings. The dash is a correct round-gauge SS dash (and not one out of a Monte Carlo, either), there's a 12-bolt rear out back, and a TH400 automatic behind the big block up front. The cowl induction hood features hood pins, and all the SS396 badges are correct, right down to the SS markings on the black rub strip on the rear bumper. The wheels are correct 14-inch SS wheels, too.

And have I mentioned that it is in spectacular restored condition? I mean, there's no way you could duplicate this car for the asking price, not by a long shot.

The body is extremely straight, with solid panels all around. The floors are new, and I'm guessing the quarters are too, and all the work has been done by experts to a very high standard. The car was assembled with a lot more care than the factory could ever have managed, and as a result the doors open and close effortlessly, the gaps are very good, and panel alignment is first rate. The great thing about fresh steel panels is that they require very little filler, and this car looks great in that 2-stage Cranberry Red paint with black SS stripes. Yes, the stripes are painted and embedded under the clear, which takes quite a bit more work than simply laying down some vinyl decals. Once it was dry, it's obvious that it was thoroughly color sanded and buffed to eliminate any traces of orange peel, leaving a flat, glossy surface that will be a pleasure to wax and detail, and will look killer at your local show or cruise.

As one of the most popular cars in history, aftermarket support for Chevelles is very strong. Because of this, this Chevelle features new bumpers front and rear, new door handles, and new mirrors, all of which are accurate reproductions. The stainless around the windshield has been buffed and shined, and is in excellent condition. Lenses are all like new, and as I mentioned, correct ‘Chevelle’ and ‘SS’ badges have been installed in their proper locations. The windshield is new, but the side windows appear to be original and show minimal scratching or other evidence of 40 years of use.

The engine compartment is highly accurate too. I've seen a lot of restored Chevelles with no paperwork, and a vast majority of them are not convincing in any way, shape, or form. The very best cars like this Chevelle, however, get the little stuff right in addition to the easy parts. That means correct hoses and tower hose clamps, a correct air cleaner under the functioning cowl induction hood, and correct finishes on all the parts. The big block under the hood here has a correct coat of Chevy Orange paint topped by chrome valve covers that aren't too shiny for that just from the factory look. The pulleys are correct for the factory A/C which features a correct A6 compressor, not a modern replacement. The block itself is a '71, with an L 5 70 date code (December 5, 1970). It looks authentic and runs well, having been rebuilt about 200 miles ago. The carburetor is a Rochester Quadrajet, as it should be. You'll also notice a brand new wiring harness, a rebuilt power brake booster with a correct cadmium plated appearance, and a Delco Energizer battery topper for the finishing touch. You'll have no qualms about lifting the hood and showing off this engine bay.

A rebuilt TH400 3-speed automatic handles gear selection, in this case a 1971 box coded for a 300 horsepower 402 (396) Chevelle (CD) with a date code of January 6, 1971. It was rebuilt at the same time as the engine, and works as it should. It feeds power to a correct 12-bolt rear packing 3.31 gears for relaxed cruising with a big block, tall gears just aren't needed for potent acceleration. As I mentioned, the floors are new and now carry a light layer of undercoating. The structural components are all in excellent condition and have been painted satin black for a clean look. Two exhaust pipes terminate in correct mufflers (thank you for not using Flowmasters!) and tips, and the brakes have all been rebuilt. There's a 14-inch SS styled steel wheel at each corner, carrying a new 215/70/14 Firestone white letter performance radial.

The interior is very nicely done. This Chevelle sports correct buckets and a console with a horseshoe shifter, one of GM's better design elements from the '60s. The seat covers are, of course, new, as is the carpet and accurate SS door panels. The dash is a real SS dash with a tachometer, and an aftermarket oil pressure gauge has been discreetly installed just to the right of the steering column. The AM radio works, the A/C blows cold as it should, and all the gauges read accurately. New SS396 embroidered floor mats have been recently added. Overhead, a new black convertible top and glass rear window have been installed, and it folds into the top well easily with just a touch of the switch on the dashboard. When folded, it is covered by a new matching black vinyl boot that finishes the look.

The trunk features factory-style spatter finish paint, a new mat, and a steel wheel with a radial tire. There's also a reproduction jack and base, and everything is tidy and in order.

So the clock is officially ticking on this one. I can't find any reason not to love this car, especially if you're the kind of enthusiast who likes to drive his car instead of looking at numbers and paperwork. At this price, the car is ideal for summertime cruising with the top down, and you can proudly show it off. The original color combination is eye-popping, and the big block under the hood makes lots of power and all the right noises. The last Chevelle we sold was a jaw-droppingly gorgeous hardtop 1970 SS that didn't have matching numbers and it was priced about the same as this one is. I didn't see that one coming, but the bottom line is that the hardtop was here all of about 4 days, so I'm very, very confident in my prediction on this one. If you want a red SS396 convertible in your garage, you'd better call now!

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