First of its Kind – Jim Sofios’ Smog-Compliant LS6 ’70 Chevelle SS
Many classic muscle cars carry a “first” designation: First Shelby Mustang, first Yenko Camaro. But Jim Sofios’ ’70 Chevelle SS with an LS6 454 claims a distinctive first. After years of research, Jim discovered that his LS6 was the first built at the Van Nuys, California, plant with the California emissions package.
Jim bought the car 25 years ago when he lived in Michigan. It was in ragged shape, a diamond in the rough, he says.
“It was missing a lot of parts, that didn’t faze me,” he says. “What I was really interested in was the build sheet. I was no expert, but I wondered why would this car built in Van Nuys be charged to the GM Mesa Proving Grounds (in Arizona) and then shipped to the head of the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan? My 10 years of research made me realize I had something.”
Jim’s Chevelle was missing many parts, but he was able to replace them with NOS pieces for an accurate restoration. The toughest challenge, though, was finding the correct but rare authentic California emissions components.
The ’70 Chevelle SS LS6 was the pinnacle of GM performance at the time. The 454c.i. big block produced 500 lb-ft of torque and a stated 450 horsepower, although the real output was probably closer to 500 horsepower. The engine was fitted with an aluminum intake and 800cfm Holley four-barrel that feeds through the functioning cowl-induction hood.
Tim’s Chevelle features the TH400 automatic transmission and a 12-bolt Positraction rear axle with 3.31 gears. Stock power disc brakes in the front and drums in the rear bring the nearly 4,000-pound car to a stop. Firestone Wide Oval bias ply tires came as original equipment but would have had trouble handling the grip needed to withstand a full-throttle launch.
Much of the interior – carpet, headliner, dash pad – is original. The Chevelle features the three-pod dash exclusive to SS models, as well as bucket seats and a center console. Other options include an AM radio, three-spoke steering wheel, and a remote driver’s side exterior mirror. The red vinyl interior complements the Cranberry Red exterior paint as well as the black vinyl roof and black racing stripes.
Jim now enjoys driving the SS around his new home in San Diego. “I feel I have a very nice original car that is meant to be driven, not pushed on and off a trailer,” he says.
Photos by Todd Ryden