Custom Paint Conundrum: 1971 Chevrolet Corvette LT1

It is funny how you can place the design of an object with the decade and culture that spawned it.  One example would be Graceland.  While today we might be a little hard on Elvis for the amount of shag carpeting in the place and the avocado green kitchen appliances, the king’s home is unmistakably a product of American in the 1970s.  You could also say the same for this 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe.  Being sold here on eBay out of tropical Miami, Florida, this white Corvette with candy apple red accents just screams the seventies.  It also has one of the most desirable options of the era: an LT-1 engine.  While the optional engine makes this car much more valuable, does the disco flair add anything for you?  With bidding at just $9,378, is the custom paint holding back collectors?

LT1 is one of those utterances that causes the ears of Corvette enthusiasts to perk up.  While Corvette buyers in the early seventies had a number of engine options to choose from, the LT-1 was something all together different.  Instead of using a large number of cubic inches in big block form, the LT-1 was a high output version of the venerable small block Chevrolet V-8.  With solid lifters and an 11.0:1 compression ratio when it debuted in 1970, these engines were known to be screamers.  370 horsepower was on tap in 1970, but things weren’t as good in 1971.  Compression was down to 9.0:1 in that year, and the decrease brought overall horsepower to just 330.  Still a nice engine, but the seventies would bring horsepower down even further for the Corvette.  By the end of the decade, the Corvette was a completely different car.

Many enthusiasts found other outlets for their automotive lust.  Some built up custom vans as a way to channel that lust, while others dove headfirst into customization.  Body modifications and outrageous paint jobs transformed many cars into good looking cruisers.  Corvettes were frequently the canvas these artists used.  The paint job on this Corvette is mild compared to many.  However, it is significant in three ways.  First, that it survived at all.  A desirable Corvette like this one usually doesn’t still wear anything but a stock paint scheme.  Second is that it is rather understated for the time.  Finally, the seventies look was applied in the late eighties!

Even though it looks straight from the disco decade, the candy apple red was applied in the era of Reagan.  Regardless, the car has been owned by the same family since 1985.  The seller reports that it has just 66,000 original miles on the odometer.  Recent work has included new brake lines, calipers, and tires.  The headlights function, and most of the gauges do as well.

The interior of this Corvette looks to be fairly well kept.  There is some rust on the turn signal stalk and some chipping on the column.  Other than that, the seats look almost new and the dash seems to be in fair shape.  The carpet could use some work though.  A good cleaning may be all that is needed.

The engine is the big prize here.  The owner tells us that this is a numbers matching car.  To some, numbers matching means that the car is still in possession of its original engine.  Corvette restorers see things a bit differently.  GM had ways of date stamping many of the driveline related parts on vehicles produced during this time period.  To the National Corvette Restorers Society, the car is not correct unless it possesses all of the required parts with the correct date codes and part numbers.  While the numbers may be correctly stamped on the engine block, there are a few pieces that aren’t correct for this car.  Can you spot them?

So, we know that it is a chrome bumper Corvette with a very desirable engine option.  It is also in great condition for its age, and it looks really neat.  Despite this, bidding hasn’t really taken off on this car.  Why?  Does the paint job detract from the value?

Tell us why you think this car isn’t bringing big money.


  1. Rik

    What I see on the what’s wrong list…air cleaner, intake manifold (and most likely carb), missing plug wire shields, missing A/C compressor, wrong distributor…that poor motor has been through quite a bit, I’ll bet…

    Like 3
    • al8apex

      NOT missing the A/C compressor as A/C wasn’t available on the LT-1 cars until mid 72 model year

      It was always a thing with Chevrolet, no A/C with solid lifter shp engines

      Like 11
      • Rik

        I’m curious as to why there are double groove pulleys on the water pump and alternator then…?

      • JimmyinTEXAS

        I’m curious why there are vents in the dash in the normal spots for A.C.?

      • gbvette62

        RIK, 71 LT-1’s did use a double groove water pump pulley. The pollution pump was driven off of one groove, and the alternator was driven by the other (all 71 LT-1’s came with a pollution pump). 71 LT-1’s used a machined aluminum, single groove, alternator pulley, so that’s not the right alt. pulley.

        Jimmy, the round lower outer dash vents came on all 68-77 Corvettes. On non air cars they were part off the Astro-Ventilation system, that drew fresh outside air in through the cowl vent, and blew it out through those round vents, while on AC cars they part of the AC system. AC cars also had a pair of rectangular vents in the center top of the dash, above the 5 small gauges.

        Like 9
      • ACZ

        Except 1972. There were 212 1972 LT1 Corvettes made with factory A/C. Yes the HEI didn’t come out until 1975. There were a few 1974 Z28 Camaros with the HEI. The stock Ignition shielding won’t fit over an HEI.

  2. JimmyinTEXAS

    Nice running. driving car on a no-reserve auction.

    Like 1
  3. CraigR

    PCV valve missing from valve cover. That motor could be sludged up really heavily.

    Like 1
  4. doug

    The wiring looks to be a mess. Paint looks hideous but easy to fix.

  5. TimM

    Better than the three tone green one!! It’s all fixable and the body hasn’t been flared or customized besides the paint!!

    Like 3
  6. Gaspumpchas

    Rust on the turn signal lever– look for more rust birdcage and frame of course. Doug is right, scuff it and repaint it. the rest of it you could do as you can afford. the engine goodies etc. Hopefully this gets in the hands of someone who has always wanted an affordable one!! Good luck to the new owner!!


    • ACZ

      Don’t waste too much time on the birdcage. The weak point on these cars is water leaking at the windshield header and rotting it out as well as the A pillars.

  7. Beaver

    I would pull the motor and rebuild it to 1970 spects in stall ac and tilt then repaint in all candy red new carpets and while at it agood cleaning under the hood while I had the motor out! Just me and my likes and dislikes!!

    Like 3
  8. bobhess bobhess Member

    See comments on the mean, green, machine….. Same for this one.

    Like 1
    • George mattar

      ACZ is correct. The real rust issues on these cars is the windshield header. A friend bought a 70 coupe 350 hp that say outside 40 years. Windshield frame is Swiss cheese. This car is missing expensive parts, such as correct intake, smog and alternator. The correct alternator is 11000950.

      Like 1
  9. gbvette62

    Though the engine stamp is correct for a 71 LT-1, the radiator, core support and shroud are 71 base 350 parts, not LT-1. The LT-1 used a larger copper radiator, with attached tanks and a plastic shroud. Because the radiator had attached tanks, LT-1’s didn’t have an expansion tank. The expansion tank on this car isn’t even correct for a 71 base small block, it’s from a 454 Corvette with AC. The tank that came with base small blocks was larger diameter, and aluminum.

    71 LT-1’s came with the A.I.R. pollution system, so it should either have the A.I.R. “trees” on the exhaust manifolds, or plugs in the manifolds. Those are base 350 manifolds.

    Anyone interested in this car, because it’s claimed to be an LT-1, better have someone familiar with 71 LT-1’s inspect it first.

    I suspect these inconsistencies are reflected in the (so far) low bids.

    Like 7
    • JimmyinTEXAS


    • MFerrell

      The radiator looks like an aftermarket replacement, which might explain the added expansion tank.

    • ACZ

      Thanks for clearing that up. I have an early production 71 LT1 and it has the copper radiator.
      Also, FYI, no one in their right mind would build this to 70 LT1 specs. This engine has hardened valve seats to use low lead or no lead fuels, as well as an appropriate compression ratio. Also works well with E10 but, if you use E10 you need to upgrade all the fuel hoses and have the carb rebuilt with E10 compatible parts.

      Like 1
  10. Dom Colucci

    Besides everything else the inside appears as if it went for a swim…

    Like 1
    • Ron

      The rust on the heater and vent controls along with the ash tray are troublesome.

  11. ron

    Needs the correct mirrors.

    • JoeNYWF64

      Older vettes ’68-7? usually had just 1 odd looking driver’s chrome mirror.
      They should have used the better looking lower profile std chrome one on the ’68-69 camaro. & odd that the optional 2nd gen ’70-81 sporty f-body mirrors fitted to this vette were not available on the vette from the factory until much later! Makes no sense.

  12. JimmyinTEXAS

    gbvette62, thanks for more info.

    Like 1

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