The 1971 Chevy Corvette is noted for being one of the least changed models in design from the previous model year in the Corvette’s entire production history.
When the labor dispute hit Corvette production in the 1969 model year, which had caused the shortened production of the 1970 Corvette by over four months, Chevrolet management decided they would consider the 1971 model year an extension of the 1970 line-up.
The 1971 Corvette also had to comply with new federal regulations that forced manufacturers to change some of the characteristic of the cars they were producing. Edward Cole, president of General Motors in 1971, decreed that all ’71 GM automobiles would run on 91 octane or lower.
That did affect horsepower on most engines in the 1971 Corvette. The base engine was still the 350 cubic inch with 270 horse, but the solid lifter 350 cubic inch LT1 engine now was rated at 330 horse with 9.0:1 compression ratio. The 454 engines also were rated lower. The LS5 454 cubic inch had 365 horse, and an optional new aluminum-head big-block engine, the LS6 was rated at 425 horse. The transmission had the 3-speed manual as standard, with the 4-speed manual and the 3-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic as options.
Interior wise, the 1971 Corvette included an optional custom interior trim package which had leather seat trim, wood-grain accents, lower carpet trim on interior door panels, wood grain accents on the console and special cut-pile carpeting.
The 1971 Corvette did have two interesting special purpose packages with racers in mind. RPO ZR1 was a package which utilized the LT1 engine, H.D. 4-speed M22 transmission, H.D. power brakes, aluminum radiator, metal fan shroud, transistor ignition, and a revised suspension with special springs, shocks, spindle-strut shafts, and front and rear stabilizer bars.
The second package was RPO ZR2. It was identical to the ZR1, except it came equipped with the 454 cubic inch LS6 engine. When equipped either, you were unable to include power windows, a rear window defroster, air conditioning, power steering, deluxe wheel covers, an alarm system, and any type of AM/FM radio, as race cars do not need those.
Styling and other equipment changes were minimal and the list prices were $5,259 for the convertible and $5,496 for the coupe. Sales were 21,801 for the 1971 Corvette.