Written by independent automotive journalist Tom Jensen
The world history books will remember 1970 as a year of revolutionary changes: The Beatles broke up, President Nixon lowered the voting age to 18, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin left us, 100,000 people marched on Washington, D.C., to protest the Vietnam War and the Environmental Protection Agency began operation.
While 1970 was memorable for music and politics, it also represented the high-water mark of the first wave of American muscle cars. In that halcyon period, horsepower and performance crested, with 1970 being the last year before the combination of tougher federal regulations and sharply increased insurance prices began to neuter high-performance cars.
At the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction, April 12-15 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, there will be a pair of classic General Motors 1970 muscle cars crossing the auction block. Both are meticulously restored and documented, and both are selling at No Reserve, which means the highest bid wins, no matter what the final selling price.
First up is a gorgeous 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 with the Rally Sport package (Lot #422). The 1970 model year was the first for the second-generation Camaro, which was longer, lower and wider than the 1967-69 models.
Chevrolet built nearly 125,000 Camaros in the 1970 model year, less than 8,800 of which were Z/28s. Rarer still were Z/28s equipped with the Rally Sport package, which featured unique two-piece front bumpers, instead of the single bumper on lesser Camaros, and round parking lights up front.
There were significant mechanical upgrades for 1970 as well. For the first time, Chevy equipped the Z/28 with a 350ci, 360-horsepower engine, instead of the smaller 302/290 found in earlier models. On top of that, 1970 was the first year that the Z/28 could be ordered with GM’s stout three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission.
The 1970 Z/28 Rally Sport crossing the block at Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach was treated to a professional body-off restoration at the General Motors COPO Build Center in Oxford, Michigan.
Powered by a period-correct 350/360 LT1 V8 engine and a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, this car has been examined by renowned Chevrolet expert Jerry MacNeish, who bestowed it with the Camaro High Performance Certificate of Authenticity, attesting to its originality.
The Z/28 features a laser-straight body with paint code 51 Daytona Yellow paint, black Rally Sport stripes and a rear spoiler. The black interior features bucket seats, a center console and the radio delete option.
The underside of this Z/28 is as pristine as the body, featuring careful attention to detail along with GM’s 12-bolt posi-traction rear axle, power front disc brakes and power steering, dual exhaust with polished tips and Rally wheels rolling on Goodyear Polyglas F-60 tires.
This 1970 Camaro Z/28 Rally Sport checks all the right boxes: Great restoration, thorough documentation and authentication, and all the right equipment.
And as nice as it is, Barrett-Jackson will be auctioning another iconic 1970 muscle car that is every bit as breathtaking. This one is a gorgeous big-block Oldsmobile, specifically a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30 Holiday Coupe (Lot #421).
Freed from General Motors’ mandate that midsized cars were limited to 400ci engines, Olds went all in on the 1970 442, equipping it with a stump-pulling 455ci engine as standard.
All told, Oldsmobile built about 20,000 442 models in 1970, and, according to the consignor, this one is one of 1,032 442 Holiday Coupes equipped with the optional W30 high-performance package. So equipped, W30 442 models that year produced 370 horsepower and a staggering 500 ft/lbs of torque.
The W30 upgrade featured a number of performance and styling upgrades, including special high-compression cylinder heads, a unique Rochester carburetor, high-performance camshaft, an aluminum intake manifold and a low-restriction air cleaner. It also came with a fiberglass hood and dual air scoops.
Finished in special-order Rally Red paint, this 442 is perfectly contrasted by black stripes and a black Stratobucket seat interior, complete with center console and sport steering wheel.
It’s beautiful, it’s original, it’s fast, it’s rare and it has been professionally documented by Oldsmobile expert Stephen Minore. His “Rocket Report” is included in the sale.
What were American muscle cars like in 1970? See for yourself at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction.
For a look at all the vehicles headed to the Palm Beach Auction, click HERE.