Shine Runner – Bob Matranga’s 1970 Chevelle SS 454
If you were around in 1970 and had the cash to order a new LS6 Chevelle, you might have optioned the car like Bob Matranga’s pristine example. His 450-horsepower big block Chevy has more than just the obvious high-performance hardware.
The car has a great backstory (it spent time in the ’70s in Kentucky as a moonshine runner) and features some of Chevy’s finest options at the time, from an AM-FM radio with the antenna in the windshield, to the indestructible M22 Rock Crusher close-ratio four-speed transmission.
After its career as a Thunder Road-style hauler it was parked and sat undiscovered until Tom Young found the car, bought it, and had it restored to original by Lester Schinnerer in Decatur, Indiana. The original numbers-matching drivetrain somehow survived the rigors of its early years, and the authenticity of the car has been inspected and certified by Jerry MacNeish and Rick Nelson, two well-known Chevelle experts. Bob bought the restored Chevelle SS 454 earlier this year at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale.
The 1970 LS6 marked the peak of the factory horsepower wars. While the next couple of years offered decent performance options, horsepower and torque specs began their decline into the anemic ’70s era. Consider what a beast the 1970 LS6 was. In addition to 450 horsepower, the big block cranked out 500 lb-ft of torque, relying on 11.25:1 compression produced by aluminum heads, a solid-lifter camshaft, forged steel crank, and a Holley 780-cfm four-barrel carburetor on an aluminum high-rise intake.
No low-octane gas allowed here.
Beyond the potent engine, Bob’s Chevelle has the factory heavy-duty suspension featuring power front disc brakes and drums in the rear. The four-speed transmission is connected to a 12-bolt Positraction rear with 3.31 gears. Goodyear Polyglas tires fit on stock 14-inch rally wheels.
The stock-color Cranberry Red paint is highlighted by black rally stripes that match the black interior. In addition to the SS-specific dash configuration, the interior bucket seat and console combination is fitted with the optional deluxe seatbelts with front shoulder harnesses. Other interior options include items that are standard in most modern cars: tinted windows, tilt steering column, electric clock, and a glove compartment lamp.
In addition, the cowl-induction hood includes the optional intake “flapper” that feeds cold air directly into the induction system. This Chevelle SS 454 was manufactured in Chevrolet’s Baltimore plant and sold new at Ken Dixon Chevrolet in Waldorf, Maryland.
With an intriguing history, numbers-matching driveline, and meticulous restoration, Bob’s SS represents the high-bar performance standards of the muscle car era and an enviable acquisition for any performance enthusiast.
Photos by Terry Lysak