By 1970, Detroit's muscle-car era was coming to a close. With Congress adding new safety and clean-air requirements and the 1973 Arab oil embargo just over the horizon, demand for the high-powered cars was beginning to decline. The Chevelle SS, with its 450-horsepower V-8 engine, was the perfect example of how automakers turned standard family sedans into hot rods. Chevrolet introduced the Chevelle as its new mid-size car in 1964. By 1970, it came in 13 flavors, including the base 300-series sedan, the upscale Malibu and the reborn El Camino pickup. But the sport coupes, convertibles and El Caminos with the SS (Super Sport) designation were anything but standard family sedans. The base engine in the SS package was a 350-horsepower V-8, but the 1970 SS hit its power peak with the optional SS-454, a 450-horsepower, 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine derived from the Corvette powerplant. The big engine and the rest of the SS trimmings added $4,000 to the Chevelle's price. A 454-equipped Chevelle could travel a quarter of a mile in about 13 seconds, a performance close to the Corvette's. But the horsepower numbers came down as the government instituted new emission controls.
Engine 396-cubic-inch V-8
Wheelbase 112 inches
Seating capacity 5
President Richard M. Nixon
Median family income $9,867
Dow Jones industrial average (year-end) 838.91
Academy Award movie "Patton"
Milestone Man-made fibers make up 56 percent of U.S. textile market