1971 Chevrolet Corvette
8-cyl. 350cid/270hp 4bbl
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 1971 Corvette changed very little in appearance from 1970, but the new motors had lower compression ratios as GM geared up for lower octane unleaded gas. The basic 350 cid Chevy V-8 now made 270 bhp, down from 300, while the solid lifter LT1 produced just 330 bhp, down from 370. Among the big-blocks, the LS5 454 generated 365 bhp, down from 390. The LS6 454, however, still managed 425 bhp as a tamer version of the canceled 1970 model, which had been good for 460 bhp.
Sales rose slightly to 21,801 units, with 14,680 coupes and 7,212 convertibles. Base prices also rose. The convertible now topped $5,000 at $5,259, and the coupe was $5,496. Auxiliary hardtops went to 2,619 convertible buyers and 832 of those were ordered a vinyl cover. The LS5 attracted 5,097 buyers, while the LS6 only found 188 buyers (it cost an extra $1,221). For the small-block LT1, 1,949 buyers stepped up.
High-performance options included the ZR1 special purpose model with the LT1 engine, M22 heavy duty close-ratio gearbox, power brakes, aluminum radiator and heavy duty suspension for $1,010. Only eight were built and the ZR2 big-block package with the 425 bhp 454 cubic inch V-8 found a mere 12 buyers. Buyers could order a Hydra-Matic transmission with the LS6 engine, but not in the ZR2 option. Base cars had the wide-ratio 4-speed gearbox, but 2,347 buyers opted for the close-ratio M21 gearbox and 130 ordered the heavy duty close-ratio 4-speed.
The custom interior had woodgrain finish and carpeted lower doors, and such buyers often chose the 3-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission (10,060), air-conditioning (11,481), power windows (6,192) power brakes (13,558), power steering (17,904) and white letter tires (12,449).
There were 10 colors to choose from this year and the numbers were recorded again: War Bonnet Yellow (3,706), Brands Hatch Green (3,445) Mulsanne Blue (2,465), Ontario Orange (2,269), Mille Miglia Red (2,180), Classic White (1,875), Steel Cities Gray (1,591), Bridgehampton Blue (1,417) Nevada Silver (1,177) and Sunflower Yellow (1,177).