From: Hemmings Motor NewsDate: March 1989Price then: $30,000 ($57,700 adjusted for inflation, about the cost…
In the 1960s and early ’70s, the muscle car era could be likened to an all-out arms race of horsepower. Anything over 350 horses could be considered potent, but going over 400 hp was completely nuclear when you consider the tire technology and lack of driver aids.
For 1970, Chevrolet introduced its new 454-cubic-inch big-block, which produced an impressive 450 horsepower. While these figures are a regular thing today, in 1970 it was like powering a car with a Saturn V rocket. The 454’s horsepower rating wouldn’t be matched by an American auto manufacturer until the late ’90s with the Viper. It is noteworthy when a good LS6 Chevelle or El Camino comes up for sale, but it’s quite an event when a Chevelle in each available body style and an El Camino are all auctioned at the same time. Mecum Auctions is offering a group of cars called the LS6 Collection at its Indianapolis sale in July; the collection features some truly fantastic cars that any muscle car collector should salivate over.
A clean LS6 Sport Coupe isn’t hard to find. Their popularity means that most have been restored to a high level and remain in as close to stock form as possible. However, what is hard to find is a meticulously documented example. Chevrolet’s poor record keeping at the time means that verifying a true LS6 is a tough feat without expert knowledge or original documentation. Because of this, collectors place a high importance on documented cars. The LS6 Collection’s 1970 Sport Coupe has both the build sheet and window sticker as well as the matching engine. It is well optioned as well, with a close-ratio Muncie M22 four-speed, cowl induction hood, Strato Bucket seats, and center console. The market for LS6 Coupes is anywhere from $63,900–$172,000, although the four-speed is usually good for a 15 percent bump on top of that.
This LS6 Convertible has to be one of the highlights of the collection. LS6 Convertibles are very difficult to come by on their own, but one with 46 years of single ownership by the original buyer may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some collectors. This car was originally purchased at the famous Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the owner tasked the dealership with performing a bunch of day-two upgrades, such as adding aluminum cylinder heads, removing the smog equipment, and deleting the stripes. Later documented engine upgrades came from the Rod Shop and Jenkins Performance, both huge names in performance tuning. The car remained in this high-strung state until it was sold in 2016, when the next owner performed a sympathetic restoration with only 27,000 miles on the odometer. During the restoration, many of the upgrades were reverted to standard with the exception of the very aggressive 5.38:1 gear set. LS6 Convertibles sell anywhere from $121,000–$292,000, but considering this car’s history, low miles, and extensive accompanying documentation, the sale is bound to set the tone for LS6 Convertibles for some time.
Possibly the most unique car from the collection isn’t a car at all, but a truck. While it seems only natural that an LS6 El Camino would be produced, given it shares so much with the Chevelle, the idea of a 450-horsepower pickup is a bit ludicrous when you think about it. Cars possess the benefit of having plenty of bodywork situated above the rear axle, but on a pickup you have box sides, bed floor, and open air above the axle. This has to lead to some truly epic on-demand burnout capability. This El Camino is one of about 500 that were ordered with an LS6, but the buyer didn’t stop there—it got the full compliment of options, such as M22 four-speed, cowl induction, and bucket seats. The cherry on top is that this truck has only traveled about 15,000 miles in its lifetime and comes with extensive documentation, certificates of authenticity, prior registrations, and several time slips form Atco Dragway. Despite its rarity, the top sale of an LS6 El Camino is $134,750, which is less than the typical coupe in excellent condition. This particular example last sold for $115,500 at Mecum’s Las Vegas sale in December 2019. For such extensive documentation and rarity, this is some serious bang for the buck. Repeat sales can tell us a lot about the market, so we will be watching this one closely to see where things are headed.
All three vehicles are slated to cross the block on Friday, July 17. You can follow the sale and track results in real time by using the free Hagerty Insider app.