1971 Chevrolet Corvette LS5
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1971 was one of the last glory years for the Corvette, and Detroit in general. The next decade would see a large drop in power ratings along with many design compromises. Between lower octane unleaded fuel, EPA regulations, NHTSA standards, import competition and more, soon the automotive landscape would consist of small displacement low compression engines choked off by catalytic converters, not to mention interrupted body lines, strange looking bumpers, and cheap plastics. But not in 1971. As witnessed here, you could still buy a 454ci 365hp big block Corvette convertible with steel bumpers, a slick wiper door, and a pop-out rear window. This numbers-matching LS5 with side exhaust brings those days roaring back.
This Chevrolet shows a build date of May 5, 1971. The frame and birdcage appear very solid and free of any rust problems. The body has seen one repaint many years ago in its original Classic White. The paint looks nice overall with good shine, but it is old and exhibits some age and lacquer checking (aka patina). The steel bumpers front and rear represent the most desirable of the C3 years. Of course as a factory big block car it has the proper hood and 454 badges. The black top has been replaced and is in good condition without any rips or abrasions. The 15 x 8” Rally wheels wear brand new BF Goodrich tires.
The engine is the original 454ci 365hp LS5. This big block shows a casting number of 3963512, a casting date of 2-8-71, and an assembly date of 4-23-71. The engine pad shows the matching VIN derivative along with the correct CPJ suffix code. While the factory setup was plenty powerful, this one has a few upgrades including a performance hydraulic camshaft and a factory LS6 aluminum intake manifold (Winters 3963569) topped by a Holley 750cfm carburetor. The ignition uses a Mallory Unilite distributor fired by an MSD box hidden in the left rear storage compartment. I would say the 425hp air cleaner decal is correct. There are also Hedman ceramic coated headers feeding the side exhaust with correct heat shields.
This Corvette also has its number-matching TH400 automatic transmission with its original CS application tag and matching VIN stamping. The rear end has been replaced and features 3.55 gears. The C3 fully independent suspension appears original with the correct sway bars front and rear. Note this car is also equipped with manual steering and power 4-wheel disc brakes for good stopping power.
The interior has dual bucket seats that have been reupholstered in black with gray inserts. Optional features include a tilt / telescoping steering column (a must on any C3) along with an AM/FM radio that still has its original Delco transistor amplifier behind the dashboard. The headlights and wipers function properly through both the control switches and vacuum breakers, though the performance camshaft provides limited vacuum at idle. All gauges and instruments work well except for the clock and some of the fiber optic dots. The horn, heater/defroster, vents, turn signals, backup lights, dash lights, courtesy lights, and parking brake are all functional too.
This 1971 model represents one of the last of the thundering big block Corvettes, and is also a rather rare find being a convertible. Further, how many of these cars still have their born-with engines and transmissions? Such a piece can be hard to find but makes for a fun and desirable classic, and given the rising prices of early C3 Corvettes, may be a nice investment as well.
- Power Brakes
- AM/FM Stereo
- Tilt Wheel
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