Auction Pick of the Week: 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396

Marketplace/Swiftmotoring/Jason Matthew

At the height of the muscle-car wars in the late ’60s and early ’70s, things at Chevrolet got weird. The division took a two-door Chevelle wagon, chopped off the back to create a truck-like cargo bed, and voilà: The third-generation El Camino was born.

In a stroke of performance-obsessed genius, or maybe madness, the El Camino could be had with the same big-block-equipped SS package as its coupe cousins. If you need to smoke tires and haul cargo, check out our auction pick of the week, this 1970 El Camino SS 396.

Utility coupes were popular in the ’20s and ’30s, but they disappeared from the new-car market after World War II. Ford beat Chevy to the utility coupe revival in 1957 with its Ranchero. Although it took the Bowtie until ’59 to respond with a ute of their own, the El Camino proved the more popular of the two.

By 1970, the third generation of El Camino was in full swing—business in front, party in the back. It wore the same aggressive front-end styling as the contemporary Chevelle, but its 79 x 39.5-inch bed could handle plenty of cargo. It was available with a variety of engines, including six- and eight-cylinder options, but the power-hungry gravitated toward the SS package.

This generation of El Camino SS came in two flavors, 396 and 454, the numbers denoting engine displacement measured in cubic inches. (Fun fact: Despite the 396 moniker, the base (L34) engine found on the 1970 El Camino SS displaces 402 cubic inches.) The L34 is good for 350 horsepower, 415 lb-ft of torque, and quarter-mile times in the upper 13-second range.

Our example is Mulsanne Blue SS 396 with a numbers-matching L34 V-8. Transmitting the engine’s power to the ground is a correct Muncie M21 close-ratio four-speed manual gearbox.

The car has an odometer indicating 30,527 miles at the time of listing; that said, the total mileage is unknown. Nevertheless, it’s been well kept over the years. Around 2011, the ute received a quality repaint in its original color and a reupholstery of the gorgeous Bright Blue vinyl interior. The transmission, rear coil springs, wheel cylinders, axle bearings, and seals were reportedly replaced in November of 2013. Recently, the El Camino received a rebuild of the Rochester carburetor and new distributor cap, rotor, and spark plugs. It’s not perfect, with a slightly tweaked hood and a few dents in the bed, but you can use it for hauling stuff worry-free … and quite speedily.

The auction ends on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at 4:30 pm ET, so don’t hesitate to put in a bid and show some love to this big-block utility coupe.

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    Probably a clone! The elcamino has a 1972 dash. Seatbelt warning light in center of dash.1972 only

    You beat me to it, the seat belt indicator is a giveaway, look at the speedo, you can kinda see the column shift indicator at the bottom, like their trying to hide it. Also the ss did not have the el camino embems in the side fenders above the ss badging. nice car but not a true ss.

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