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.
The original LS6 produced 425 bhp and was the most powerful engine offered in 1971. Only 188 cars were produced with this powerplant, less than one percent of Corvette’s 21,801 1971 production run. The option price was $1,221.00, or 22 percent of the coupe’s $5,496.00 base price.
When tested by a leading automotive magazine, an LS6 with a four-speed manual and a 3.36:1 limited-slip differential produced impressive numbers: a 0 to 60 time of 5.3 seconds, 13.8 seconds@105 mph in the quarter-mile, and fuel mileage between 9 and 14 mpg.
Building on the LS6 option was the ZR2 package. This option was priced at $1,747.00; there was a total of only 12 ZR2-equipped Corvettes produced, making them even rarer than the original Z06. The ZR2 was a one-year-only production package comprising the best high-performance components available from the factory: LS6 454/425 HP engine, aluminum heads, a dual-plate clutch, M22 “Rock-Crusher” 4-speed manual transmission, J56 dual-pin heavy-duty power brakes, F41 heavy-duty suspension with special springs, shock absorbers and front and rear stabilizer bars, and a heavy-duty aluminum radiator without the shroud. Power steering, automatic transmission, radio, and air conditioning were not available as options.
PHOTO CREDITS: BOB COOK
CAR DETAILS SOURCE: BLOOMINGTON GOLD
Our first Corvette is a 1971 Corvette LS6 ZR2 Convertible # 14630 and owned by Ed and Theresa Foss, Roanoke, IN.
UPDATE: Out of the 12 total 1971 Chevrolet Corvette ZR2, this one has a mileage count of just 10. It went for $715,000 at the Mecum Indy 2023 auction.
Although the rare L88 Corvette retired in 1969, Chevrolet still kept performance in the spotlight with the special LT1-powered ZR1 in 1970-71 and LS6 big-block ZR2 in 1971. While the two were identical in performance, the ZR1 and ZR2 had many added features such as Power Windows, Rear Window Defroster, Air Conditioning, Power Steering, Deluxe Wheel Covers, an Alarm System, and different radio models.
In 1971, the 454 CI RPO LS6 engine returned to the Corvette and provided a 425 HP factory rating, featuring the debut of lightweight aluminum cylinder heads. Those opting for the comprehensive ZR2 high-performance features had to order a mandatory M22 Rock Crusher close-ratio manual transmission, heavy-duty power brakes, transistorized ignition, a special aluminum radiator with a metal fan shroud, and improved suspension with unique springs, shocks, and stabilizer bars. Only 188 vehicles were equipped with the formidable LS6 powerplant, including just 12 hardcore ZR2s, and the package had a price tag of $1,741.
This example of a 1971 Corvette ZR2, of which only 12 were ever built, is the last one known to have been built by Chevrolet. Documented as an Export model, it was produced at St. Louis, Missouri, Corvette plant on May 28, 1971, and immediately shipped and delivered to Golden Mile Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Extensively restored by Corvette Repair Inc. in Valley Stream, New York, this highly rare ZR2 Corvette is now offered in stunning condition.
Presenting an iconic exterior finished in its original Brands Hatch Green, complemented by a Dark Green vinyl interior, this ZR2 comes with a powerful 454/425 HP LS6 V-8 engine featuring lightweight aluminum heads, solid lifters, a 4-bolt bottom end, and forged crank, rods, and pistons, all of which are complemented by a transistorized ignition and high-capacity aluminum radiator. Delivering power to the wheels is an M22 Rock Crusher close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission, coupled with a 4.11 Positraction rear end. Additionally, it comes with a range of specialized features such as F41 special heavy-duty suspension, heavy-duty front and rear sway bars, specially designed shocks and springs, J56 power dual-pin disc brakes, and, as expected, radio delete.
This classic ZR2, from the acclaimed Ed Foss Collection, was Bloomington Gold certified and had the distinction of being featured in the “Tribute to the LS6” exhibition at Bloomington Gold in 2021. In addition, the car was selected for the “Greatest Generations – Corvette – Evolution of America’s Sports Car” exhibition at the renowned Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, which opened on April 1, 2021, and ran through March 2023. The ZR2 was also included in the NCRS National Convention display and was given the prestigious Chip’s Choice “Best of the Big Blocks” award at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Supporting its rare status, this ZR2 is documented with its original warranty book, dealer-issued Protect-O-Plate, NCRS/GM shipping data report, and solid GM Canada production records, which include its initial data, features, and options.
Only 12-ZR2s were made in 1971, ten coupes, and two convertibles.
1971 Corvette LS6 ZR2 Convertible No 14708 Owned by Richard Ferrando, Gillespie IL
1971 Corvette Specifications
Total Production = 21,801 (14,680 Coupe, 7,121 Convertible)
RPO# LS6 454ci,425hp Engine Total of 188 $1,221
1971 Corvette Exterior Color Choices
|973||Mille Miglia Red||2,180|
|983||Brands Hatch Green||3,445|
|988||Steel Cities Gray||1,591|
|989||War Bonnet Yellow||3,706|
1971 Corvette Interior Color Choices
|412||Dark Blue Vinyl|
|423||Dark Green Vinyl|
1971 LS 6 Corvettes
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible # 11499 owned by: Rick Hendrick, Charlotte NC
This 1971 Corvette COPO convertible features the optional LS6 454 CID 425 hp engine (Option cost: $1,221.00; one of 188 built with aluminum heads), a turbo-hydramatic transmission (one of seven automatics with the LS6 option and one of twenty-four convertibles), an exterior color of Nevada Silver with red interior, auxiliary hardtop, power steering, power brakes, power windows, AM/FM radio, tilt-telescopic steering column, 3.36 positraction, and custom shoulder belts. Unique to the Corvette are export procedure #1, export nontaxable status, and GM continental Antwerpen homologation with a special chassis/body/trim tag along with yellow epoxy two-component chassis sub-assemblies. Documentation includes the original tank sticker, build sheet, emission control decal, 1971 LS6 Corvette survey, Franklin Mint agreement, AMF-676 Sweden license plates, and owner history back to 1973. The Corvette’s production date was March 8th, 1971, with delivery for export to Europe (dealer code 2 in zone 79) per the official NCRS/GM shipping data records. The car is thought to have been ordered & owned by King Leopold III of Belgium and is one of the featured C3’s of Mr. Hendrick’s Heritage Center. The LS6 is a Bloomington Gold SURVIVOR® and was selected for a Franklin Mint model.
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 13128 owned by James J. Wallace, West Bloomfield MI
This 1971 LS6 Corvette convertible was originally ordered by a military serviceman stationed in Europe; it is one of three known “Export” LS6 Corvettes built; it has it’s born with the original factory-installed engine, and after a year in Europe, the car was shipped to Rome, New York where it was street raced until the early eighties, then a doctor purchased it, and during his ownership, he commissioned Dick Ferrando of D & A Corvette Inc. to body off restore the car. The Doctor owned the car for 38 years and only put a total of only 500 miles on it in all that time. It has been stored and not driven in his garage since 1998. I am the NCRS LS6 “Survey Guy” and have been for the past 20 years, and have been aware of this car for the past 15 years and was able to purchase it last year. I have since gone thru all the various vehicle systems and made it show-ready. The complete story of the car’s history and how I was able to find the car and purchase it will be the subject of a future magazine article.
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 16642 owned by Chuck Ungurean, Marysville OH
This Sunflower Yellow Corvette LS6 Convertible is a fabulous unrestored example with just 33,149 original miles. With a Saddle interior, white soft top, and black vinyl-covered auxiliary hardtop. Produced on May 10, 1971, and delivered to a dealer in New Hampshire. Retaining the original matching numbers LS6 454/425 HP engine mated to an M22 4-speed transmission.
The prior owner kept the car for 31 years, and excellent documentation included the tank sticker ownership history with previous titles dating back to 1973 and a CCAS engine affirmation letter. Already rare as one of 188 LS6 Corvettes produced for 1971, this unrestored survivor is immensely collectible as one of only an estimated 50 convertibles.
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 12914 owned by Dean & Sue Nelson, Wood Dale IL
This 1971 LS6 was ordered in Fox Lake, IL, and was delivered on 4-2-71. It was ordered to be a “street racer” as he wanted to buy the fastest car Chevrolet was going to build that year. It was ordered with only the bare optional equipment it would take to get the job done. Power Brakes, AM/FM radio, 425 HP Turbo Jet 454 V8, M-22 4-Speed, 411 Axle. The cost of the car was $7293.10, and he traded in his 1969 Corvette and received $4353.10 for his trade. He made $158.39 payments for 18 mos. The Corvette was in Fox Lake for two years, and he traded it to a Jag dealer as he now wanted an XKE. After the original owner traded the car, it had ten owners; I am number eleven. I have all the state title copies from Illinois, and it has never left northern Illinois. As you see it now, the only major work has been the repaint we did in 1994, as someone had put a clear metal flake over the paint (must have been in the ’70s). For all of you who ask, “How fast is it?” we did run it one time at the drag strip on 8-16-94. We used a set of Goodyear rear street tires and ran a 12.845 at 106.245 MPH. The LS6 was the last year of the high HP motors until GM made the 1990 ZR-1.
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 13525 owned by Guy & Helen Mabee, Gordon TX
In the words of the original owner:
“Dianne Wilson, my wife, worked at Harvey Lane Chevrolet in Pascagoula, MS. Around April 1, 1971, a transporter unloaded a red 1971 Corvette convertible in front of the dealership when she and a couple of other employees walked outside to watch. One of the service representatives was inspecting the red convertible Corvette, and Dianne said, ‘That is a beautiful car.’ He asked her if she would like to go for a ride. They went for a short ride, after which the car was serviced and placed on the showroom floor. The car remained on the showroom floor until sometime in February 1972, when it was sold to a young man. The young man returned the car two weeks later with approximately six hundred miles because it had no air conditioner, and his wife would have no part of THAT! Dianne saw the car being traded in and told the used car manager that she wanted to buy the car. So, on March 9, 1972, we were proud owners of a 1971 Corvette LS6.”
Ron Wilson, the first real owner, 3/9/1972 – 5/3/2014.
After Mr. Wilson bought the car, he purchased a hardtop from the dealer. He removed the folding top from the car and installed the hardtop, which remained on the car for 42 years, leaving the paint stained by the seal. Fortunately, he retained the original folding top, which has now been reunited with the car.
1971 Corvette LS6 Coupe No 12160 owned by Greg Horton, Warrenton MO
I followed this car for over ten years when I first saw it for sale by then-owner Dr. Joe Linzalone. I waited too long, and it was gone later, turning up at Legendary Motors in Canada. I lost it again when it went to a private collection in Canada. I rediscovered the car some years later when it went back to Legendary Motors, where I continued to monitor it. During that time, it was used in Legendary’s weekly cable show in the episode called “Trading up to a Cobra,” the owner brought the LS6 into work a trade on an original Cobra. In 2018 I saw Guy Mabee’s LS6 red convertible, and that sealed the deal; I decided it was time to get serious about that LS6. In early 2019 I traded two very nice original cars for the Mulsanne Blue LS6, a 66 Black/red L36 coupe, and a 68 Red/black L71 coupe. Hated to see those two cars go and still reminisce at their pictures today, but I made the right choice “Trading up to an LS6”.
1971 Corvette LS6 Coupe No 13608 owned by Kris & Susan Smith, Burnettsville IN
My memories of the car start around 1974 or 75, and this cool red 1971 Corvette with a 454 and Baldwin Motion look car shows up in the school parking. No one knew back then it was an LS6, and even when Harry and I raced late one night (about 1976) in our hometown, my 1969 Corvette with a new LT1 replacement motor and his 454, I had no idea what I was up against. The car just disappeared around 1978, but the story was it was stuck in the barn at Harry’s parent’s farm. I was never convinced it was still around until about 2005. Five years of negotiation, and it was ours.
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 12677 Current Custodian Terry McManmon, Berwyn IL
This well-cared-for LS6 has been featured in M.F.Dobbins Vette Vues Fact Book and Corvette Quarterly and The Gold-certified Cars of Bloomington Gold. With only 8,844 miles on it, it is new in every way. For most of its life, the car has been cared for by Carl Strohm and Linda Dunlap. This car has won every award there is for originality in both NCRS and Bloomington Gold. This example of St. Louis production has been used, as any Benchmark car should, as an example for the restoration of several other LS6s and as an example in writing the 1970-72 NCRS Technical Information Manual and Judging Guide. I am honored to be the current and fourth custodian of this outstanding example of Zora’s Last Hurrah!
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible No 13115 owned by Ed Vickers, Cincinnati OH
This LS6 was originally ordered and delivered in early April 1971 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Sunflower Yellow convertible with a black interior and top. It has a four-speed transmission. The car was ordered in early January, so the wait for delivery seemed extremely long. “This LS6 is a two-owner car; the original owner and I were engineers in Cincinnati. The car has 46,000 miles on the odometer. The original owner indicated that when he had the car serviced at the local Chevrolet dealer, the passenger floor mat would be folded back under the seat after the technician completed his post-service test drive! We all love fast cars.”
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible # 12703 owned by Mike Ernst, Waterford WI
On January 21, 1971, 17-year-old Larry W., accompanied by his parents, ordered this LS6 from Thorp Chevrolet, Annapolis, MD. After receiving it in early April, he had it custom painted and added side pipes and mag wheels. And in the first seven years, he drove it 55,631 miles. In 1978 he sold it to the second owner, who, after driving it several thousand miles, put it in dry, enclosed storage for the next 26 years, intending to restore it. He sold it to a friend, who for the next 14 years intended to restore it, and who, in March 2017, sold it to the present owner. All the original parts remained with the car the entire time, other than the differential and the Air Injection Reactor (smog) system. Featured in the NCRS Corvette Restorer magazine, it now has 59 thousand miles on it and is driven on backcountry roads on cloudless days.
1971 Corvette LS6 Convertible # 12136 owned by Vito Cimilluca, Colonia NJ
The original owner had placed the order for the “Red Baron” (that was the name that John B Young II had given the special 1971 LS6 Corvette). John walked into Palmer Chevrolet in Ocean City, NJ, on July 2, 1970, and placed an order for this heavily optioned Corvette. The order sheet stated, 1970 Model; the order sheet literally has every line filled with options. The dealer, not knowing this car would ever be built, made a note in the section “Delivered on or About,” stating “As Possible” It turned out that John Young II had to wait almost a year for this special car, nine months later the car was scheduled to be built. John took delivery of the “Red Baron” on March 24, 1971. The cost for this heavily optioned 1971 Corvette is $8,065.60. John owned The Red Baron for 13 years before passing it along. I have known the 1971 LS6, the “Red Baron,” for almost 25 years; the car was owned by Rich Bernat, a former colleague of mine who I’ve known for almost 40 years. Back in 2014, Rich had approached me and inquired about my interest in the car; I was very interested, but the timing wasn’t right, having two young children in Catholic school, a mortgage, bills…LIFE. Recently Rich approached me again about my interest in the car. By this time, I was financially prepared to purchase the LS6, and at the beginning of 2021, I took ownership and worked to preserve this beautiful car as she is showing her age after 50 years. I look forward to being part of the “Red Baron’s” history.
The Bloomington Gold Corvette Show is an annual car event that is held each year in June. For more information on this event and the next year’s date, check their website https://www.bloomingtongold.com/
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