Article: Joe Van Zyl
Photos: Gavin Kleinschmidt
Holding the key in your hand to one of the most insane muscle cars ever produced is a feeling that is not easy to explain. Your heart starts to race as you brace yourself for what is about to happen. I spent a Sunday morning with Warren Strydom, who resides in Cape Town, and his original 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS……
It was very early on a Sunday morning when I met up with Warren and his Chevelle. Warren still looked a bit sensitive from the night before. We took the car out for a ride to try and find a good spot with the perfect lighting for the photos. Cruising through the CBD with the windows open all you could hear was the sound of the 454 V8 echoing off of the buildings.
Warren picked up the Chevelle in 2005 from Motostars in Cape Town. “I fell in love the moment I saw it. The owner of the dealership didn’t want to sell the car, but I just kept bugging him” says Warren.
The car is virtually untouched, the brakes have been re-conditioned and the shocks replaced but nothing has been upgraded. The only visual change on the car is the steering wheel and the Centreline wheels, that are an upgrade but still period correct.
The Chevelle SS was Chevy’s entry into the hot midsize muscle car battle back in 1964 and was the high-performance version of Chevy’s Chevelle and had its own line of engines and performance equipment. The 1970 Chevelle SS 454 V8 LS6 was the most powerful rated engine in muscle car industry and it is easy to see why the 454 came with Holley four barrels on an aluminum manifold, 11.25:1 compression, solid filters, four-bolt mains, forged steel crank and connecting rods, forged aluminum pistons and deep-groove accessory pulleys. No production engine ever had a higher factory horsepower rating. This was a car that you could buy and drive off the showroom floor straight onto the drag strip and run a quarter mile in just under 14 seconds. It was said that it could do a 0-60 MPH in 6.1 seconds. The BMW M6 does it in 4.4 and the Chevelle is over 40 years older so put that in your pipe and smoke it. Warren confirmed it at an open track day; he ran this baby down the straight and got a staggering 13.7 seconds.
To think that only 4,475 LS6 Chevelles were ever produced in 1970 and I was about to drive one. Warren handed me the keys and said give her a go. I did not need to be asked twice. I got into the left-hand side driver’s seat and had a look around. The only modern thing that I could see was the radio. There was no way I was turning that on when there was a V8 under the bonnet about to start roaring.
As I was driving out of the parking lot, I could feel the steering was light, the seats were comfy and it is a big car that does not feel a thing. It was smooth on the road and an absolute pleasure to drive. I wanted to put my foot down, but I was too scared as the hell that would break loose if I did!
As I was cruising through Town, I realized that I did not have to put my foot on the accelerator as she happily purrs along at 60km/h. When you do give her a bit of stick, she quickly reminded me who was boss. People could hear the car before it arrived, and heads started to pop out to see what was coming down the road.
This is a barely restrained beast. This kind of torque is normally reserved for things that can tow planets. You really have to pay attention when you drive this car; it really bites back if you do something stupid. Respect it and it rewards you with an experience second to none.
Owner: Warren Strydom
City: Cape Town
Motor: Stock 454 V8 LS6
Motor toys: Holley four barrel, aluminum manifold, 1 1.25:1 compression, solid lifters, four-bolt mains, forged steel crank and connection rods, forged aluminum pistons and deep-groove accessory pulley all stock.
Extras: Steering wheel and radio