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The 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle featured a styling update that replaced the dual headlight front end design with a simplified single-headlight setup. The headlights were flanked by by dual cornering lights, designed to mimic the look of the split-bar grille. Out back, the single square taillights of the ’70 model were replaced with a dual-taillight design.
Trims were once again simplified, with the “300 Deluxe” trim of the previous year now simply called “Chevelle” to signify the base model. It included a two-door sport coupe and four-door sedan. Buyers could also get the Nomad wagon and the El Camino pickup was based on the Chevelle as well. The top trim continued to be the Malibu, offered in sedan, sports sedan, sport coupe, convertible, and wagon (Greenbrier and Concours) forms.
For 1971, General Motors determined their engines must be able to run unleaded (or low-lead) fuel. To allow for this, compression ratios were lowered, resulting in decreased engine outputs. The base engine option continued to be a base six-cylinder, but many buyers chose a 307 cid V-8 or opted for a a 350 cid V-8 good for making 245 or 270 hp. The Chevelle SS was still offered, but buyers only had a 402 or 454 cid big-block to choose from. The ground-pounding LS6 was gone, though, so top of the group was now the LS5 that was good for 365 hp.
To combat rising insurance premiums for the SS 454, GM released the “Heavy Chevy” variant of the base sport coupe with some added decals and upgraded suspension. A total 387,000 Chevrolet Chevelles were produced for the 1971 model year.