The 1971 Corvette LS6 – An Historical Perspective

This year’s Gold Collection will salute the 1971 Corvette LS6 engine option.  Only 188 Corvettes were built with the 454 CID 425 HP LS6 engine option, less than the total 3-year production of L88’s!  The Collection will present a great group of documented LS6 and ZR2 optioned Corvettes. The Bloomington Gold event is scheduled for June 18-19, 2021 at the Lucas Oil Stadium, Downtown Indianapolis.


Our feature article is written by Matt Robertson

The 1971 Chevrolet Corvette C3 Coupe LS6 is one of the rarest cars in the world. It was only offered for a year, and during that time only 188 were made. The rarity of the LS6 combined with its unique features has made it a coveted prize among classic car collectors. The car was originally priced at $6,717.00 ($5,496.00 base price with a $1,221.00 LS6 package).  Today one of these vehicles in top condition can cost $200,000.00 or more.

Design of the LS6:

Zora Arkus-Duntov
Zora Arkus-Duntov

The LS6 was designed by Zora Arkus-Duntov and his team.  Duntov’s work on the Chevrolet Corvette line had already earned him the name “Father of the Corvette,” but he wanted to create a vehicle with more horsepower for races.  The Corvette LS6 had a number of unique features, including the 425 brake horsepower big-block V8 engine with 454 cubic inches.  The engine was made out of cast iron and featured aluminum heads. It made the LS6 the most powerful engine to be produced in 1971.  In fact it was more powerful than any engine ever except for the L88, which was no longer in production.

Specifications:

In addition to this powerful engine, the LS6 also included a number of high-quality parts and features.  Some of the highlights include the 850 cfm Holley 4-barrel carburetor, an M22 “Rock Crusher” Muncie transmission, and the A.I.R. smog pump.  The car could achieve 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Not surprisingly the engine was considered one of the worst performers as far as fuel economy goes; only managing between 9 and 14 miles per gallon.  This particular statistic didn’t get much consideration in pre-embargo 1971, when fuel was only about $0.38 / gallon (about $2.90 in today’s dollars).

Not surprisingly the engine was considered one of the worst performers as far as fuel economy goes; only managing between 9 and 14 miles per gallon. 

Chevrolet also offered a ZR2 RPO package. The LS6 engine was joined with a four-speed manual transmission, transistorized ignition, a lightweight aluminum radiator, heavy-duty power brakes, and specialized shocks, springs, and stabilizer bars. While the standard LS6 was rare, the ZR2 RPO-equipped was almost non-existent: only 12 of these vehicles were produced. This version of the car was aimed at those who were serious about road racing, but unfortunately, the $1,747.00 price tag and lack of interest lead to very low sales.  Both the LS6 and ZR2 packages were phased out and not offered in 1972.

The Modern LS6:

The initial 2001 LS6 engine produced 385 horsepower (287 kW) and 385 lb./ft (522 Nm) of torque. The engine was modified for the 2002 model year to 405 horsepower (302 kW) and 400 lb./ft. (542 Nm) of torque.
The initial 2001 LS6 engine produced 385 horsepower (287 kW) and 385 lb./ft (522 Nm) of torque. The engine was modified for the 2002 model year to 405 horsepower (302 kW) and 400 lb./ft. (542 Nm) of torque.

In 2001, Chevrolet resurrected the LS6 name.  Now a 385 horsepower engine, this modern LS6 was improved in several ways to make it superior to those found in the antique cars even though it wasn’t as powerful.  It was further refined in 2002 (405 hp rather than 385) and used in the Z06 Corvettes produced up until 2004.

A Rare Find:

Those who love collecting classic cars, especially Chevrolets or Corvettes, may find the 1971 Corvette LS6 to be The Holy Grail, a car that could be the centerpiece of their collection.  While you may occasionally see one of these old cars up for auction, don’t expect to find them for cheap.  Even those that are damaged or in need of repair can command fairly large prices simply because of the model’s rarity. 

This 1971 Sunflower Yellow LS6 Coupe is a fine example.  It sold at the Mecum Auction in Monterey California in 2018 for $140,250. Photo Credits: Mecum Auction
This 1971 Sunflower Yellow LS6 Coupe is a fine example. It sold at the Mecum Auction in Monterey California in 2018 for $140,250. Photo Credits: Mecum Auction

1971 CORVETTE OWNED BY VITO CIMILLUCA

Photos: 1971 Corvette 50th Anniversary Display at Corvettes at Carlisle

The 1971 Corvette is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year (2021) and today we are looking at the 50th Anniversary display at Corvettes at Carlisle this year. 

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C3 PHOTOS FROM YESTERYEAR OF CORVETTE BODY KITS & DRESS-UP PARTS

This is the third re-post of the original series in Vette Vues Magazine. We are looking back at the various custom modifications that could be installed by an owner, contracted to a shop, or purchased as turn-key vehicles. This re-post presents additional photos to those who were selected for print in the original article in VETTE VUES MAGAZINE. The C3 Body Kit article ran in the June 2018 issue.

1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 13128 owned by James J. Wallace, West Bloomfield MI

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Today on the Vette Vues blog, we look at the 1971 LS6 and ZR2 Corvettes displayed in the Gold Collection at the 49th Bloomington Gold Corvette Show. The event was held at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. 1971 LS6 The original LS6 produced 425 bhp and was the most powerful engine offered in […]

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Mark Semerano's 1971 War Bonnet Yellow Sting Ray

Mark Semerano’s 1971 War Bonnet Yellow Sting Ray

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