1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 Convertible

Big changes at GM for 1970 included the end of the corporate edict forbidding engines larger than 400 cubic inches in its intermediate models. Chevrolet’s “big-block” V8 was enlarged to 454 ci and formed the basis of the LS6 option, intended to help Chevrolet wrest control of Super Stock drag racing from Chrysler.

The redesigned 1970 Chevelle SS was the perfect platform for the LS6 engine, which was underrated at 450 hp and 500 ft-lb of torque. It was backed by either an M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed manual or hard-shifting M40 Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Depending on rear-end gearing, which ranged from 3.31:1 to 4.10:1 from the factory, LS6 Chevelles were capable of easy 13-second quarter miles.

Diehard Chevrolet racers Ralph Truppi and Tommy Kling of New Jersey dominated the NHRA’s North East Division during the 1960s. Truppi was a skilled interpreter of the NHRA rulebook, relying on brainpower rather than financial power for the competitive edge. Truppi later joined forces with Kling, and found Ray Allen, a talented young driver. The Truppi-Kling team focused on incredibly careful preparation, a major factor in their success.

When the SS 454 LS6 Chevelle was introduced, Truppi-Kling ordered a Fathom Blue convertible with a column-shifted M40 automatic for a planned assault on the NHRA SS/E class. Their major sponsor was Briggs Chevrolet from South Amboy, New Jersey. The convertible was chosen for its factory-added structural reinforcements, and the NHRA allowed it to run without a roll bar, provided the top remained up. NHRA-legal engine modifications consisted of Hooker headers, an L88 solid-lifter camshaft, and an Edelbrock Tarantula intake manifold. A Vitar torque converter and 5.14:1 Zoom rear end gears were fitted.

According to Allen, while the Chryslers were clocking times in the mid-eleven-second range, “.we went out and ran 11.01, and the Chrysler guys just died. The next week we lowered our own national record to 11.33 seconds.” The Truppi-Kling Chevelle was undefeated in 1970, winning the NHRA North East Division championship, the 1970 World Finals, and the 1970 Supernationals. After the 1971 racing season, Allen moved up to a Pro Stock Vega, and another Truppi-Kling team member, Claude Urevig, took over the LS6 from 1972 until about 1974-75.

The “Killer Car,” as this particular Chevelle became known, ended Chrysler’s domination of the NHRA’s Super Stock classes at the peak of the muscle car era. It’s one of the most important pieces of American motorsports history.

Colin Comer

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Colin is the founder of Colin’s Classic Automobiles in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as SCM’s resident American car expert. His fascination with cars began at an early age, and according to him, he never grew out of it—nor does he wish to. Colin regularly appears on television, and he is the author of the books: “Million-Dollar Muscle Cars” and the “Complete Book of Shelby Automobiles.” A hands-on guy, Comer maintains an impressive collection of his own and is an avid vintage racer. He is a regular contributor to both Sports Car Market and American Car Collector magazines.

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