454 V8 4-Speed Project: 1971 Chevrolet Corvette

Here’s an example of selective photography at its finest. A completely original example with low miles and an LS5 and a four-speed for $21,500 looks promising. It even has AC, power windows and a luggage rack. Then, when you read the ad here on craigslist things go downhill quickly. It’s been sitting since 1981 when it blew a head gasket. There’s no picture of the engine but there is a picture of a pile of parts including the intake manifold, headers, and rocker covers. So… the engine internals have been exposed and rusting for thirty-seven years. It’s somewhere in Hollywood, so perhaps rust on the frame, birdcage, and suspension bits isn’t too bad.

Here’s a more realistic view of this Corvette’s current state. It’s also as close as we get to a peek under the hood.

The interior is looking rather sad, but a good cleaning should help. I don’t see any cracks in the dash pad and everything looks original.

I’m really curious to see what you think about this Corvette. Things just don’t quite add up and the price seems high. If all they did was blow a head gasket, why did they take the engine apart and not put it back together? What else did they find when they took the engine apart? After sitting open all these years, do you think the engine will be rebuildable? Is there any way this could be restored and not end up “upside down”? Warbonnet yellow is perhaps not most folks favorite color, but many folks do like it. It will be interesting to see what you think this Corvette is worth and what you think could be done with this Corvette.


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  1. Blueprint

    Period-perfect color! Keep the engine parts, install crate.

    • Scot Douglas

      Perhaps a”Blueprint” engine? :)

  2. Alan (Michigan) Member

    Engines are almost always rebuildable. But I think it is very uncommon to blow a head gasket in one of these. More likely over-revved/dropped a valve, or spun a bearing/damaged the crank. Yes, the price is very high for what is offered.

    Looking at some of the photos, there seems to be quite a bit of evidence of moisture. look in the backgrounds, not hard to spot. Selective photography indeed. Maybe the frame and birdcage aren’t so good after all.

  3. Puckster
  4. george

    seems like a fair price and he is negotiable, why is it still for sale after 3 days in car crazy Los Angelos????

    • Poppapork

      Hoe is that fair for this heep?

  5. Mike

    Racing from stop light to stop light . My guess it dropped a lifter then sucked a valve . Someone ticked all the right boxes on this one . Rebuild the rat , do the usuals that Vettes require after sitting longer than 60 days i.e.; full brakes , water and oil pump , full vacuum , new tank , rebuild the Rockchester, may be a clutch and starter , full fluid and full tune up . You’ll then saved a rather 1 off big block , chrome bumpered , 47k miles Corvette.

  6. Mark

    Paperwork all wet moldy top of seats, dirty fly in one photo.

  7. Pa Tina

    This could be worth restoring. Weren’t LS5’s pushing $75,000 not so long ago. War Bonnet Yellow is a great color (In my opinion)

  8. Kevin Lee

    Needs an LS and a widebody kit. Oh yeah, and the goofiest taillights you can find that look really out of place. All kidding aside, I would love to own this beauty! At this point in it’s life, it deserves lotsa TLC.

  9. Ronald G Bajorek jr

    oh yeah baby!

  10. Beatnik Bedouin

    Anyone who was interested in buying this car should have a good look at the chassis, et al. Even the license plate is rusted.

    • Mike

      I have a hunch, one may find milky substance with bubbles where once was found oil…you got it boys and girls a cracked block! Big block, break it…big bucks! This perhaps would be the time to consider the LS if one is to swap. It would also be interesting to know if this car was launched with an m21 or rock crusher???

      • DB

        Should have been M22 trans, my LS5 454 71 El Camino had one

      • GV

        M20 would have been standard manual, but M21 and M22 optional. Only 130 ’71 Corvettes reported with the M22 option, so that would be a rare find!

  11. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    Yep…what’s up with that back plate ?

  12. Mr Firth

    lota rust the rims the plate interior dont look like a 47thou puta way maybe a flood car ?

  13. Kevin Tapply

    No “Get Rich Quick Scheme” here. Move on… this had better be a true labor of love for Nostalgia sake as you will have close to $50k in it assuming the rust is manageable. I think there are better base cars to start from. These seems like a real stretch at anything near $20k.

  14. Cattoo

    Judging by the amount of dried muck up to and over the console and maybe as high as the radio and the lack of dried muck on the dash itself I’m gonna go with my first gut impression that this is a sports car that spent time submerged in the flood waters of at least one storm before drying out.

    • Pa Tina

      Is flooding common in LA?

      • Beatnik Bedouin

        When it rains, heavily, Pa Tina. Los Angeles is my hometown…

      • Todd

        Mudslides are!

  15. Dovi65

    Great color combination. Really looks good on this one. Vettes aren’t my passion, but I do hope this one gets back on the road with all the original workings.

  16. Big Mike

    Guy is crazy. This car is at best 10K and that is if the frame is not rusted. I think from what you can see in the pictures, I am wondering if this car had gone through a flood at one time or another.
    Blown head gasket or cracked a head. I can see somebody hot rodding this Vette and got it hot dropped a valve, seized up a lifter.
    Way to much for the for the unknown!!!

  17. Kelly Waldrop

    M22’s were optional. Had to order to get. Not standard EQ. Paperwork? Air cars were never very fast. Magazine test on a 70 454 with air had it in the 15’s.

  18. ACZ

    M22s were EXTREMELY rare. M20 and M21 were the normal fare. An M22 was so noisy that you could never hear a radio in the car. Straight cut gears. No helix. Strong as hell but not for the street. As far as the engine, count on a complete rebuild with a few sleeves. This one has been open way too long. True that Mark IV engines did have head gasket problems. They had one area (about one or two o’clock on the cylinders) where there was a greater distance between head bolts thus creating a weak point. Usually the problem only showed up with 12:1 compression or severe detonation.

  19. Paul

    Ad deleted by owner

  20. Van

    I thought the LS5 was 1970 only. Wouldn’t the compression drop in 1971 kill the power. A friend had an LS7 crate engine, because a 630 rear wheel HP small block wasn’t enough.

    • DB

      Factory rated 365 hp in 71 LS5, I believe 390 hp in 70

  21. Mike

    Regarding the four on the floor for the corvette, thank you for the information. I do like the sounds while driving, I’ll save the m22 for the strip.

  22. Utes

    Under-priced ‘cuz it’s been underwater!

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