1971 Corvette to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary

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1971 Chevrolet Corvettes
1971 Chevrolet Corvettes

A 1971 LS6 Corvettes Convertible went to Auction…

January 15, 2021 – Updated January 17, 2021


The 1971 Corvette is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year (2021). Today we’ll look at the history, one that just went to auction as well as a special event display featuring the LS6 1971 Corvettes.

Due to government regulations, the muscle car era would soon be ending. However, there were still many options in 1971 if you were in the market for a performance car, but the Chevrolet Corvette was the top choice for many buyers.

The 1971 Corvette was manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri.

1971 Coupe or Convertible?

"Eighteen years of Corvette has taught us a lot." a 1971 Corvette advertisement.  (Image courtesy of GM Media)
“Eighteen years of Corvette has taught us a lot.” a 1971 Corvette advertisement. (Image courtesy of GM Media)

You could opt for a coupe or convertible—21,801 combined examples were built; 14,680 coupes and 7,121 convertibles. [$5,496.00 – coupe, $5,259.00 – convertible].

1971 Color Choices

The C3 1971 Corvette had ten color choices: Nevada Silver, Sunflower Yellow, Classic White, Mille Miglia Red, Mulsanne Blue, Bridgehampton Blue, Brands Hatch Green, Ontario Orange, Steel Cities Gray, War Bonnet Yellow. The Brands Hatch Green was the most popular choice. Both the Brands Hatch Green and the Nevada Silver were unique to this model.

The interior choices for the 1971 Corvette were as follows: Black Leather, Brown Vinyl, Dark Blue Vinyl, Dark Green Vinyl, Red Vinyl, Saddle Vinyl, and Saddle Leather.

While the 1971 Chevy Corvette remains one of the least changed models in design, there were still plenty of options.

The biggest changes for the 1971 Corvette were in the motor, i.e., reduce the octane requirements from previous years.

1971 Engine Options

GM offered America’s Sports Car owners four different engine options on the 71 Corvette: L48 350cim – 270HP Engine, LT1 350ci – 330HP Engine, LS5 454ci – 365HP Engine, LS6 454ci – 425HP Engine.

1971 LS6 Corvette Engine

The ultimate performance package one could order was the LS6 engine; The LS6 engine option was one of the most significant Corvette performance statements to come out of GM-Chevrolet engineering! In keeping with the times and governmental regulations, the LS6 engine was designed to operate on low-lead fuel, part of a 2-year horsepower race.

Only 188 of the year’s production total of 21,801 cars were built with the LS6 454 CID, 425 HP V8. Production numbers for the LS6 optioned Corvettes were 55 convertibles and 133 coupes.

“For $1,221, you could check the box for the cast-iron 454 CI big-block topped off by a Holley 850 CFM carburetor. This combination produced heart-pounding excitement with 425 HP and a robust 475 lb-ft of torque with 9.0:1 compression. Even though this tire-scorching engine was available, only 188 were produced in 1971.” (Mecum Auction)

The LS6 engine featured aluminum cylinder heads and could be ordered with either an automatic or four-speed transmission.

Transmission choices for 1971 included the 3-speed manual, 4-speed manual close-ration, 4-speed manual close-ration heavy-duty, and 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic. [1971 was the last year for the M22 “Rock Crusher” heavy-duty transmission.]

1971 Corvette Special-Purpose Packages: RPO ZR1 and RPO ZR2

For 1971, Chevrolet offered two special-purpose (racing) packages: RPO ZR1 and RPO ZR2.

The first of these we’ll look at is the RPO ZR1 package. This included the LT1 engine, and a heavy-duty, four-speed, close-ratio transmission (RPO M22), heavy-duty power brakes, a special aluminum radiator, a metal fan shroud, a transistor ignition, and a revised suspension with special springs, shocks, spindle-strut shafts, and front and rear stabilizer bars. [Note: It has since been found that the 1971 ZR1 has appeared with and without rear stabilizers.]

The LS6 option cost was second only to the ZR2 option cost of $1,747.00, of which GM only twelve. The one year only ZR2 production included just two convertibles and ten coupes.

A 1971 Corvette ZR2 Convertible sold at Monterey California at a Mecum Auction in 2010 for $440,00. In 2019 a 1971 Chevrolet Corvette ZR2 Convertible sold for $368,500 at the Mecum Monterey, California auction.

The RPO ZR2 was the second special-purpose package that Chevrolet offered. This second special-purpose package was identical to the ZR1 except that instead of a small block LT1 engine, the ZR2 came equipped with the LS6 454 cubic inch engine.

The ZR2 package included a close-ratio four-speed transmission, heavy-duty power brakes, transistorized ignition, lightweight aluminum radiator, special springs, shocks, and front & rear stabilizer bars.

A 1971 LS6 Corvette recently went across the auction block in Kissimmee, Florida

The car below we are going to look at went to the Mecum Kissimmee Auction January 16, 2021 and bid to $125,000 and did not sell. The Bid Goes On if you would like to try to snag this for your collection. You can call the Mecum office to see how to place your bid at (262) 275-5050.

1971 Sunflower Yellow LS6 Corvette Convertible Lot S150 Mecum Kissimmee, 2021
1971 Sunflower Yellow LS6 Corvette Convertible Lot S150 Mecum Kissimmee, 2021 (Photos Courtesy Mecum Auction)
1971 LS6 Corvette Convertible Unrestored 33,146 original miles.
1971 LS6 Corvette Convertible Unrestored 33,146 original miles. (Photos Courtesy Mecum Auction)
1971 LS6 Corvette Convertible Original matching numbers LS6 454/425 HP engine.
1971 LS6 Corvette Convertible Original matching numbers LS6 454/425 HP engine. (Photos Courtesy Mecum Auction)
1971 LS6 Corvette Convertible Sunflower Yellow with Saddle interior and White soft top
1971 LS6 Corvette Convertible Sunflower Yellow with Saddle interior and White soft top. (Photos Courtesy Mecum Auction)

Coming up this weekend, January 16, 2021, at the Mecum Kissimmee Auction, will be a 1971 LS6 convertible. Lot S150 is an unrestored Corvette with only 33,146 miles. It’s estimated value is $170,000 to $185,000.

This car was delivered to a dealer in New Hampshire in factory Sunflower Yellow with Saddle interior and White soft top (and Black vinyl auxiliary hardtop) and was born on May 10, 1971. This fine example has its original matching-numbers LS6 454/425 HP engine with the M22 4-speed transmission.

Al Grenning has affirmed the engine (CCAS), this 71 is also documented with the tank sticker, and has the ownership history with previous titles back to 1973.

What a great collectible Corvette!

The 1971 LS6 engine Vette is one of the most avidly sought-after big-block Corvettes of that era. I recently learned from a Bloomington Gold Judge that they started producing the 1971 LS6 Corvettes at the end of February 1971 and produced them to June. You want to make sure you check the VIN when looking at these Corvettes. If you are going to buy any Corvette for its collectability you want to be sure of its authenticity. Bloomington Gold or NCRS certifications will help with determining this as would a CCAS by Al Grenning. It never hurts to hire a professional if you are looking to buy a Corvette as an investment.

The VIN’s for 1971 were 194371S100001 through 194371S121801.
For convertibles, the fourth digit is a 6.
– Source- Corvette Black Book

___________

Convertible 194671S100001 – 194671S121801

Coupe Numbers 194671S100001 – 194671S121801

[The VIN is stamped on a plate on the inner vertical surface of the left windshield pillar. You can see it through the windshield.]

NOTE: Other items you will want to check are:

  • 1971 Corvette Body Number Trim And Plate
  • 1971 Corvette Engine Identification & Engine Number
  • 1971 Corvette Transmission Identification & Transmission Number

Bloomington Gold Celebrates the 1971 Corvettes’ 50th Anniversary

This year at Bloomington Gold, a special tribute display featuring Corvettes’ 50th Anniversary will honor the 1971 Corvette Stingray.

Also, at the Bloomington Gold show, spectators can enjoy a unique display called The Gold Collection. This year the 2021 Gold Collection will feature a special tribute to those rare models powered by the LS6 engine option…the last true limited-production high-performance Corvette of the 70s. You will have the opportunity to see these rare, high-performance LS6 and ZR2 optioned Corvettes. For more information on this event, please visit their website www.bloomingtongold.com.

Classic White 1971 Chevrolet Corvette LS6 Convertible owned by Guy and Helen Mabee.
Classic White 1971 Chevrolet Corvette LS6 Convertible owned by Guy and Helen Mabee.

Our first Corvette we are looking at today is owned by Guy and Helen Mabee. Their BENCHMARK 1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible also has the ZR2 option and will be on display at the Bloomington Gold event scheduled for June 18-19, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Guy & Helen Mabee's BENCHMARK 1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible in Mille Miglia Red
Guy & Helen Mabee’s BENCHMARK 1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible in Mille Miglia Red
Mille Miglia Red BENCHMARK 1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible
Mille Miglia Red BENCHMARK 1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible

When you look at the 1971 Corvette LS6 you can’t help but scratch your head when you realize that the 1971 Chevrolet Vega was Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year.


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