Air Conditioned Big-Block: 1971 Chevrolet Corvette

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It is said that we can’t have it all, but this 1971 Corvette tries to deliver everything to everyone. This highly optioned classic features air conditioning for those seeking comfort, combined with the brute strength of a big-block V8 for those craving performance. It presents exceptionally well and appears to need nothing. It is listed here on eBay in Dayton, Ohio. Bidding currently sits below the reserve at $31,000, although there is time for that figure to climb.

As with most years, Chevrolet offered 1971 Corvette owners a palette of ten colors from which to choose. This car’s original owner was 1-of-2,269 to select Ontario Orange. The seller says the photos don’t do this classic justice, suggesting a vehicle that already looks stunning could be jaw-dropping in the flesh. The paint holds a mirror shine, with the seller indicating a few minor chip touch-ups. The fiberglass looks flawless, as does the trim and chrome. The beautiful original Rally wheels wear new tires from the good folk at BF Goodrich, and the glass is immaculate. The hood and subtle badges tell us there is more to this Corvette than good looks.

It would be safe to assume the original owner wasn’t afraid to splash their cash when ordering this Corvette. Snuggled in its engine bay is a numbers-matching LS5 version of Chevrolet’s legendary 454ci V8. The big-block sends 365hp and 465 ft/lbs of torque to the rear wheels via a three-speed Hydramatic transmission, with power steering and power brakes adding further to the effortless driving experience. If the new owner pointed this ‘Vette at a ¼-mile, the journey would become a distant memory in 14.5 seconds. The seller says the motor was rebuilt and detailed in the 1990s, and it still presents well. It isn’t just a pretty face, with the car running and driving perfectly. The Hydramatic shifts crisply, and the big-block delivers seemingly endless torque.

It is hard to believe this Corvette’s interior could present better than the exterior, but I think it does. The original owner ordered it with Saddle leather upholstery, and a recent retrim has it looking factory fresh. There are no physical flaws or issues and no aftermarket additions. The only identified faults are the AM/FM radio not working and the clock occasionally stopping without warning (no surprises there!). Otherwise, everything functions as it should. It is a rare treat to find a Corvette of this vintage combining a big-block and ice-cold air conditioning, but that is what the new owner will receive. Other desirable options include power windows, a tilt/telescopic wheel, and a rear defroster.

This Corvette tries to be all things to all people, and I believe it pulls it off. It presents beautifully, its original owner ordered it with some of the most desirable options, and the powerhouse under the hood promises lightning performance. That raises the question of where the bidding might head, and that isn’t easy to determine. Values have recently dropped, although not dramatically. If history is a guide, they should eventually bounce back, raising an intriguing possibility to consider. Now could be the ideal time to investigate this Corvette further because if values rise again, purchasing now could see the winning bidder driving away in an appreciating asset. As usual, there are no iron-clad guarantees, but it is something to ponder.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Beautiful car. I do find it interesting everyone gets all excited over finding a
    70s car with air conditioning. Having spent most of my life in the southern half of the US like Oklahoma, Mississippi and Florida there were very few cars that did not have AC, and that goes back into the late ’50s and ’60s. And, as a point about this Corvette, it does get hot in Ohio too.

    Like 6
    • Roger

      I noticed your user name,being from southeast Ohio when I was growing up there were a couple of Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealerships owned by a fellow name of Bob Hess

      Like 4
      • bobhess bobhessMember

        Would have been nice if it had been me ’cause he probably made a ton more money than I was. When we moved back down to Florida in ’91 we found that there were 3 Robert Hess’s on this 4 x 10 mile island we live on.

        Like 4
  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow this ticks all the boxes for me. A well optioned chrome bumpered big block with a/c…screwge the purists that might turn their noses up at the slushbox…that’s a perfect drive line for a C3. Even the colors work

    Like 10
    • Neal Jacobsen

      I very much agree!! Beautiful Vette! If I had some money I would be in there bidding.

      Like 5
  3. Maggy

    Nice car but too dang hard at least for me to get in and out of with my back .Passed on a 68 427 4 speed with the original engine but a muncie trans out of a early 70’s t/a for 12k lemans blue I think about 4 years ago.Decent solid driver that needed some work.Tried to get in and out and said to myself stick with a b body. Cool color this orange is for sure. Glwts.

    Like 3
  4. Beauwayne5000

    Just needs a “Hot Wheels” decal below side fender vent & side pipes.
    Cars color is exactly the same as the orange Hot Wheels tracks we used to.have slap fights with.
    Fix that Radio w/a hi end unit & Blast ACDC after adding a 150 shot of nitrous.
    A rifle rack on the rear window cuz its HUNTER ORANGE already & would make a great road ditch hunting car.

    Like 1
  5. George Mattar

    Air conditioning is not that rare on 1971 Corvettes, but 454s are some what scarce. I had a Brands Hatch Green 71 454 air coupe with a 4 speed. That was in 1976. The a/c didn’t work then, nor did the radio. It had a 3.08 rear so it had good top end speed. It had a beautiful no hit body, but everything went wrong with that car starting at 48,000 miles. Traded it for a silver 1976 Cutlass. Today, I still love Corvettes and have a 73 Corvette that rides far better than that 71.

    Like 0
  6. Neal Jacobsen

    Beauwayne5000 – ???
    I’m sure you are just kidding but it’s a Vette not a Land Rover. Lose the ACDC too. It doesn’t seem to fit with the Vette.

    Like 3
  7. PRA4SNW

    By ’71, I think you will find that most of the buyers who got the big block Corvette ticked most of the option boxes, including A/C and auto.

    Like 2
  8. Henry DavisMember

    Not a Vette, but I’ve always wanted a Nova with a big block and factory air. Unfortunately, GM never built one. But Henry is! Should be done in about 6 months.

    Like 2
  9. John Oliveri

    If I was in the market for a Vette, this would be it, all the rite options, colors, drivetrain, I’d get a a 71 in dash Delco am/fm 8 track, and ride into the sunset!

    Like 3
    • Pete

      Being that the radio doesn’t even work, I’d prefer it radio delete.

      Like 0
  10. Cain

    Too bad for the automatic transmission; the four speed is a totaly different dance game on the same car. Also, I am not a fan of the rear rack – too bad that they put hols in the car for that ygly rack and I really don’t see the utility of it since behind the seat it is a similar reasonable space.

    The ontario orange looks great but I am biased on this color.

    Like 1
    • Purple sky

      Agreed on that “luggage” rack. Never a good look IMO LOL Otherwise, perfect combo for me.

      Like 1
      • bobhess bobhessMember

        I wouldn’t have put a luggage rack on one of these but knew a lot of folks who used their cars as daily or only car drivers that needed them. We used to run back and forth across the country tent camping in our 356 Porsches and really could have used a rack. Had to store stuff in the engine compartment for lack of room.

        Like 0
      • PRA4SNW

        bobhess, that’s exactly what we did in my ’70 Vette convertible – used that very handy luggage rack to go tent camping.

        It was so much fun driving that car up into the mountains of NH and that “ugly” rack holding everything that we needed.

        Now, I think that Vettes without them look naked.

        Like 0
  11. CraigR

    I’d buy it just for the color!

    Like 3
  12. Carguy454

    Nice looking car. I bought one on the early 80’s as a rolling basket case. Very much like that one, but a 4 speed convertible. AC in northern NY seemed silly, and when I bought the car, most of the engine mounted AC pieces were gone. I did a budget restoration soon after I purchased it, with the aim to bring it back to stock within a student’s budget. I drove it my last year of college and for a few summers after, and it has been awaiting a more formal going-through. The torque was impressive and it handled ok if you had the guts to steer it with the gas pedal. Still great memories, but as one commenter mentioned it is now hard to get out of!

    Like 3

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