Welcome back to Hobby Car Corvettes, as we continue our C3 Vette Rundown Series. Two weeks ago, we discussed the delayed, but ultimately successful launch of the 1970 C3 Corvette. If you missed the posts for all years prior to 1971, we do recommend checking those out! Short, sweet, and to the point, our series aims to give a brief but pertinent history of the lifespan of the third generation Corvette, from start to end. Cruising right along, let’s see what changes 1971 Corvette brought to the masses!
WHY SO FEW CHANGES?
Right out the gate, the biggest “change” for the 1971 Vette, was very little change at all. Instead of facelifting this and modifying that, it was agreed that the shortened production of the 1970 C3, was deserving of a longer run. It was the United Auto Worker’s labor dispute that led to this decision. This specific event had caused the 69’ Vette lifespan to be prolonged, and the 70’ Vette launch to be delayed, shortening the lifespan.
Instead of making grand aesthetic changes to inspire “ooos” and “ahhhs” from the general public, the year of the 71’ Vette was the year of modifying engines to meet federal regulations.
Aside from the engine mods, there are few changes to note. The fuel filler door was made easier to open, and added was a transmission selector quadrant that illuminated during nighttime operation. The 1971 Vette was also the last model to feature the fiber-optics light monitoring system, the headlight washer system, and the M22 heavy duty 4-speed manual gearbox.
POSITIVE CHANGE FOR THE WORKERS
Because Chevrolet ultimately decided to leave the 1971 practically unaltered, the plant workers in St. Louis were able to breathe a sigh of relief and focus more on quality, rather than quantity. Workers were motivated to enhance the quality of the car they were proud to make. While most car companies across the country were churning out mass quantities of basic vehicles, Corvette plant workers felt proud to work on such a highly-regarded and recognized sports car.
Vince Shanks, the plant manager of the St. Louis Corvette Manufacturing Plant, was quoted as saying “When you ask a guy where he works in St. Louis, he’ll tell you ‘Corvette’ rather than ‘Chevrolet.’ Every Corvette he sees on the road is one he’s worked on. That’s quite an incentive.”
RESPONSE TO REGULATIONS
Chevrolet’s decision to leave the 1971 unaltered, worked out for the better in another regard. The year 1971 ushered in new federal regulations, requiring internal changes to meet new standards. Engineers were able to focus solely on the changes necessary to bring all Corvette’s up to code.
The president of GM, Edward Cole, had mandated that all 1971 GM cars would be capable of running on fuel with a Research Octane Number no higher than 91 Octane. To tolerate the lower octane fuel, engines were detuned with reduced compression ratios. The small blocks available were the 350 ci (5.7 L) base engine, which dropped to 270 hp (201 kW), and the high performance LT-1, now listed at 330 hp (246 kW). The LS5 454 ci (7.4 L) motor was carried over and produced 365 hp (272 kW).
Offered in 1971 only was the LS6 454 cu in (7.4 L) big-block featuring aluminum heads and delivering 425 hp (317 kW), highest of the 1970-72 series, and could be ordered with an automatic transmission.
DID YOU KNOW:
The 1971 Corvette production specs called for the use of amber parking light lenses. However, most 1971 Corvettes came equipped with clear lenses and amber bulbs, which was carried over 1970.
The 1971 Corvette included an optional custom interior trim package which included leather seat trim, wood-grain accents, and lower carpet trim on interior door panels, wood grain accents on the console and special cut-pile carpeting.
A ZR2 package like ZR1, but with a 460hp (also listed as 465hp), 454 ci was planned and advertised for 1970, but not released until 1971. Suffix was to be CZL for manual, CZN for automatic.
A SMOOTH YEAR
Although 1971 was not a year of big, flashy changes, it was a year of necessary changes. It was also a positive year for the plant workers at Corvette in St. Louis. So 1971 won’t be remembered as a phenomenal year, but the third generation Corvettes wouldn’t be what they are without it.
Join us again in two weeks, to see what 1972 has in store. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to us at Hobby Car Corvettes, located in Martinsburg, PA, if you have any questions or interest in owning your very own C3 Corvette. Turn your dreams of owning your very own C3 Chevrolet Corvette, into plans!
|MODEL||1971 CHEVROLET CORVETTE|
|BODY STYLE||Two-door convertible/coupe, front engine, rear wheel drive|
|MANUFACTURING LOCATION||St. Louis, Missouri|
|Classic White, Monza Red, Marlboro Maroon, Mulsanne Blue, Bridgehampton Blue, Donnybrooke Green, Daytona Yellow, Cortez Silver, Ontario Orange, Laguna Gray|
|Black, Blue, Brown, Green, Saddle, Red|
|CONSTRUCTION||Uniconstruction: fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP or “fiberglass”) body, backboned by a steel cage outlining the passenger compartment. Principal members – underbody, front and rear end assemblies, dash panel and hinge pillars are bonded, riveted, or bolted together and to each other. Hood is plastic with bonded plastic reinforcement. Coupe: two removable roof panels and removable rear window. Frame: all welded, full length, ladder construction with 5 crossmembers. Side Rails and intermediate crossmembers box section; front crossmember box girder section. Eight body-mounting points.|
|VEHICLE NUMBERS (VIN)||194371S100001 – 194371S121801|
|ENGINE SUFFIX||CGT: 350 CUBIC INCH, 270 HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS|
CGY: 350 CUBIC INCH, 330 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CGZ: 350 CUBIC INCH, 330 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CJK: 350 CUBIC INCH, 270 HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS
CJL: 350 CUBIC INCH, 270 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CPH: 454 CUBIC INCH, 365 HP, MANUAL TRANS
CPJ: 454 CUBIC INCH, 365 HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS
CPW: 454 CUBIC INCH, 425 HP, MANUAL TRANS, ALUMINUM HEADS
CPX: 350 CUBIC INCH, 425 HP, AUTOMATIC TRANS, ALUMINUM HEADS
|ENGINE BLOCK NUMBER||3970010, 350 CUBIC INCH, 270 HP, 330HP|
3963512, 454 CUBIC INCH, 365 HP, 425HP
|HEAD NUMBER||3946074, 454 CUBIC INCH, 425HP|
3973487, 350 CUBIC INCH, 270HP, 330HP
3993820, 454 CUBIC INCH, 365HP
3994026, 454 CUBIC INCH, 425HP
|CARBURETOR NUMBERS||OCHESTER Q-jet #7041204: 454 CUBIC INCH, 365HP, AUTOTRANS|
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7041205: 454 CUBIC INCH, 365HP, MANUAL TRANS
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7041212: 350 CUBIC INCH, 270HP, AUTO TRANS
ROCHESTER Q-jet #7041213: 350 CUBIC INCH, 270HP, MANUAL TRANS
HOLLEY R4489A #3989021: 350 CUBIC INCH, 330HP, MANUAL TRANS
HOLLEY R4555A #3986195: 454 CUBIC INCH, 425HP, MANUAL TRANS
|DISTRIBUTOR NUMBER||1112038: 350 CUBIC INCH, 330HP, TRANSISITOR IGNITION|
1112050: 350 CUBIC INCH, 270HP
1112051: 454 CUBIC INCH, 365HP,
1112053: 454 CUBIC INCH, 425HP, TRANSISTOR IGNITION
1112076: 454 CUBIC INCH, 425HP, TRANSISTOR IGNITION
|ALTERNATOR NUMBER||1100543: 454 CUBIC INCH, 365HP, 425HP|
1100950: 350 CUBIC INCH 270HP, 330HP
1100544: ALL WITH AIR CONDITIONING
|AXLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER||AA: 3.55:1 RATIO|
AB: 3.70:1 RATIO
AC: 4.11:1 RATIO
AD: 4.56:1 RATIO
AW: 3.08:1 RATIO
AX: 3.36:1 RATIO
LR: 3.36:1 RATIO
|PRODUCTION ENDING VEHICLE||AUG., 1970: 101212, JAN. 1971: 108230, MAY, 1971: 118223, SEP.. 1970: 102226, FEB. 1971: 110886, JUN., 1971: 120686, NOV., 1970: 102675, MAR. 1971: 113626, JULY, 1971: 121801, DEC., 1970: 105269, APR. 1971: 115983|
Options Codes, Production, & Pricing
|19467||Base Corvette Sport Coupe||14,680||$5,496.00|
|19467||Base Corvette Convertible||7,121||$5,259.00|
|–||Custom Interior Trim||2,602||$158.00|
|A85||Custom Shoulder Belts (std with coupe)||677||$42.00|
|C07||Auxiliary Hardtop (for convertible)||2,619||$274.00|
|C08||Vinyl Covering (for auxiliary hardtop)||832||$63.00|
|C50||Rear Window Defroster||1,598||$42.00|
|ZQ1||Optional Rear Axle Ratio||2,395||$13.00|
|LS5||454ci, 390hp Engine||5,097||$295.00|
|LS6||454ci, 425hp Engine||188||$1,221.00|
|LT1||350ci, 330hp Engine||1,949||$483.00|
|M21||4-Speed Manual Transmission, Close-Ratio||2,387||$0.00|
|M22||4-Speed Manual Transmission, Close Ratio Heavy Duty||130||$100.00|
|N37||Tilt-Telescopic Steering Column||8,130||$84.30|
|PO2||Deluxe Wheel Cover||3,007||$63.00|
|PT7||White Stripe Tires, F70x15 nylon||3,007||$63.00|
|PU9||White Letter Tires, F70x15 nylon||6,711||$28.00|
|T6o||Heavy Duty Battery (std with LS5)||12,449||$42.00|
|U79||AM-FM Radio, Stereo||18,078||$178.00|
|ZR1||Special Purpose LT1 Engine Package||8||$1.010.00|
|ZR2||Special Purpose LS6 Engine Package||12||$1,747.00|