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Big-Block Project: 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454

The second-generation Chevelle’s from 1968-72 are some of the most cloned cars out there. They were made during the heyday of the muscle car era and could flat out move. An authentic SS 396 or SS 454 can be worth some big bucks when the stars and moon all line up properly. This 1971 SS 454 appears as though it’s the real deal but has at least two strikes against it. The first is that the engine is not numbers-matching. The second is that the color was changed from blue to red. And the third, if there is one, is there is no indication that this car even runs. Located in Bloomfield, New Mexico, this SS can be found under a large, open shed and here on Facebook Marketplace for $23,500.

Chevrolet’s biggest stock motor would be the 454 cubic inch V-8, introduced for 1970. The “base” version of the 454 – which put out 365 hp – would find its way into Corvettes, Camaros, and Chevelle’s, as well as some station wagons and the C/K series light-duty pickups. The engine would have three good years in production before the detuning process for tighter emissions controls took the wind out of its sail. In the Chevelle SS, about 4,600 were built in 1970, 9,800 or so in 1971, and 5,900 in 1972, according to the LS5 Registry

The seller’s 1971 Chevelle SS 454 is a high mileage car, with more than 123,000 claimed for the odometer. It has an LS5 motor with a TH-400 automatic transmission and 12-bolt rear end, but it’s not a numbers-matching car. At some point, the original Mulsanne Blue paint was exchanged for red, which was a popular color on the Chevelle SS 454 in the early ‘70s. While no mention is made of the running condition of the car, the photos suggest it does not. Why else would you photograph a car like this inside a storage building that is open from the front and has a dirt floor? Also, the front floorboards have all sorts of parts and other stuff lying there, meaning it would be a pain to start the car up and move it out for glamour shots.

On the plus side, the black interior, while dirty, looks to be in good condition. No visible rips and tears in the upholstery, but we can’t tell about the carpeting, door panels, and headliner. The dash looks good, though. At one time, the Chevelle must have been a regular at car shows given what appear to be some older pictures taken in the great outdoors. The paint then looks much shinier than it does now. The overall impression of the car is that it was parked in the shed and then left alone for a long time. And the rear of the car looks as though it might be setting a little low. Is the trunk filled up with more car parts?

Online pricing guides suggest a really nice SS 454 like this can be a $50,000 proposition (and up), so the seller is only asking half that at best. Whether this car is a bargain would depend upon what it will look like when detailed and put into good running order. And how much of its value might get dinged for the replacement motor and body color.


  1. Arthell64 Member

    Mulsanne blue is a great color odd that it was changed to red. Looks like a decent car for for the money if it’s not full of body filler.

    Like 3
  2. Dusty Stalz

    Looking at the pics I don’t see anything that would indicate the car doesn’t run. Am I missing something? The seller is probably too lazy or just unable to get it outside.

    Like 2
  3. Steve R

    Without the original engine there is no way to verify this Chevelle came with a 454, it will also be hard to prove its an actual SS unless there is a build sheet, Protect-O-Plate or window sticker. A smart buyer will value it as a clone, the seller needs to step up their game and actually put some effort into selling their car.

    Steve R

    Like 19
    • William

      I have to agree. I would pay a greatly discounted price for this, and then drive it as a car, not some valuable commodity. Even if I had the cash for a pristine original, I would buy a clone, just seems like the right thing to do. Of course, as you recently pointed out, I am on Santa’s naughty list.

      Like 10
  4. ACZ

    This car may not be long for this world unless someone changes the fuel pump to carb fuel line configuration.

    Like 3
  5. Fran

    BRAGbook Marketplace, BLA! A lot of us are not into social media, I understand the needs of people to use it but not some. I think with what we know and the eagle-eyes out there, CL would be good enough. You still have strangers coming over to your place to look at what you have, or tell the world what you have.
    Save the insults, its just, One man’s opinion.

    Like 3
  6. Troy s

    There were a little over twenty thousand or so, give or take a little, SS 454 Chevelles built all total yet only about fifty thousand still exist.
    I wish it was still blue with those big dual stripes and those great wheels, what a great looking machine, red is cool but in alarming numbers.
    454 seems a little modified, at least the induction, it’ll move out plenty well.
    The ultimate Chevy day tripper and night time prowler.

  7. John R

    Could you get a 12 bolt rear end in 71?

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