Big Block Battle: 1970 Chevelle SS 454 Vs. SS 396

Muscle Car Kings: The 1970 Chevelle SS 454 Vs. SS 396

If you talk to gearheads about classic American muscle, the 1970 Chevelle SS is always in the conversation. It

has iconic Coke bottle curves, bold stripes, and – most importantly – monstrous big-block power under that bulging hood. When picking your dream Chevelle, you have a critical choice: SS 454 or SS 396.

1970 Chevelle SS 454 Vs. SS 396
1970 Chevelle SS 454 Vs. SS 396

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Let’s cut to the chase: the Chevelle SS 454 packs a 454 cubic-inch (7.4-liter!) V8 beast. The base LS5 version punched a respectable 360 horsepower and a pavement-rippling 500 lb-ft of torque.

If that wasn’t enough, the legendary LS6 bumped things up to a truly insane 450 horsepower.

The Chevelle SS 396 is different from a slouch. Its 396 cubic-inch (technically a 402) big-block V8 came in various flavors.

The most common L34 produced 350 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque – plenty to get your heart racing. But enthusiasts got hot for the higher horsepower L78, which cranked out an impressive 375 horsepower.

Behind the Wheel

Numbers are cool, but what’s it like to drive these beasts? The SS 454 is an absolute monster. Floor the gas pedal, and the raw power will throw you back into your seat. This car isn’t about finesse but brutal, straight-line acceleration.

Meanwhile, the SS 396 strikes a better balance. It’s still wild fast, don’t get me wrong, but it feels slightly more manageable. You can tackle some corners without launching into a ditch, which is a bonus.

More Than Just Engines

Of course, there’s more to these Chevelles than just the numbers under the hood. The 1970 redesign was a hit – those flowing lines and aggressive stances still turn heads today. The SS packages added sporty touches like blacked-out grilles, special badging, and those iconic hood scoops.

It’s also worth noting that the availability of options varied. Depending on your chosen powerplant, you could snag features like the cowl induction hood, beefier transmissions, and performance-tuned rear axles.

So, which one reigns supreme? Honestly, it’s down to what you want. If you’re a pure adrenaline junkie who needs the baddest Chevelle on the block, the SS 454 is your weapon.

But if you prefer a mix of power and a slightly more balanced driving experience (as balanced as a ’70s muscle car can be), the SS 396 is an excellent choice.

Sadly, whether you dream of the 396 or 454, finding a clean example will make your wallet weep. These are prized collector cars, but the thrill of a classic Chevelle SS is worth it for the lucky few who can snag one.



  • SS 454:
    • 454 cubic inch (7.4-liter) LS5 V8 (360 horsepower, 500 lb-ft of torque)
    • Optional: LS6 V8 (450 horsepower, 500 lb-ft of torque)
  • SS 396:
    • Technically, a 402 cubic inch V8 (marketed as the 396)
    • L34 V8 (350 horsepower, 415 lb-ft of torque)
    • Optional: L78 V8 (375 horsepower, 415 lb-ft of torque)

Transmission Options

  • Both SS models could be had with:
    • Muncie 4-speed manual transmission (including the close-ratio “Rock Crusher”)
    • Turbo Hydramatic 400 3-speed automatic


  • SS 454 (LS6): The quarter-mile king. These were among the fastest production cars of their era. With ideal gearing, 0-60 times could dip into the low 5-second range.
  • SS 396: Still incredibly fast by modern standards. 0-60 mph was typically in the high 5-second to low 6-second range.

Handling and Suspension

  • Base Suspension: Both SS models shared the same F41 sport suspension as standard. This meant stiffer springs, upgraded shocks, and front/rear sway bars.
  • Handling: These are classic muscle cars – don’t expect modern sports car levels of cornering agility. The 396, with slightly less weight over the front end, might feel more nimble.


  • Base Styling: The core Chevelle styling was identical. Both SS models received:
    • Blacked-out grille
    • SS badging
    • Domed hood
  • Options:
    • Cowl induction hood
    • Iconic SS stripes

Price and Rarity

  • Original MSRP: The SS 454 package costs significantly more than the SS 396. The LS6 was particularly expensive.
  • Today: Both are highly collectible. However, LS6 Chevelle SS 454 models command the highest prices – they’re the true icons.

The Chevelle SS 454 was the ultimate brute force machine, designed for maximum straight-line power. The Chevelle SS 396, while lacking the 454’s monster top-end, offered similar thrills for a lower price and in a slightly more well-rounded package.

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