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Meticulous Restoration: 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 Convertible

When an owner embarks upon the road of a classic car restoration, there are a variety of approaches that they can take. The owner of this 1971 Chevelle SS 454 Convertible has pushed the boat out because it is one of the most finely detailed restorations that you are ever likely to see. The finish line is within sight, but he has decided to part with this fantastic car. It will fall to the new owner to add the finishing touches before hitting the road behind the wheel of one of the most desirable cars to roll off an American production line in 1971. If you feel yourself drawn, and who could blame you, you will find the Chevelle listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in Hannibal, Missouri, and while the bidding has rocketed to $49,700, that figure remains short of the reserve.

It is hard to know where to start with this Chevelle because there’s so much to absorb and appreciate. The first thing to note is that the owner has performed this restoration without resorting to reproduction parts. Virtually everything is either original, NOS, or restored. It appears that he approached this as a frame-off process that has left no stone unturned. The frame was media-blasted and powder-coated before being reattached to the body using fresh bushes. It was then undercoated so that rust should not be a problem in the future. The bodyshell is rust-free, and the owner stripped it before applying the factory-correct red oxide primer. Over this has been laid the beautiful original shade of Rosewood Metallic with the White stripes. His attention to detail extends to every aspect of the car. Many original plated components have been restored and replated, including the hood hinges, hood lock mechanism, and brake booster. If it were plated originally, a coat of paint would not suffice. Even the original wheels didn’t escape this meticulous approach. They have been restored to their original appearance down to the correct gray on the back, and a set of NOS brushed trim rings and blue center caps. It appears that the buyer will be left with the final assembly, which will include fitting bumpers and other hardware, the new power top, and installing the glass and weather stripping.

This photo reveals one of the few deviations that the owner has made from originality, but it is one of which I approve. He has applied sound-deadening material from the firewall to the rear of the passenger area to reduce road and engine noise. It will also lessen heat soak from the monster residing in the engine bay and increase the buyer’s enjoyment of this car.

It should be no surprise to learn that a spotless new interior is ready for the buyer to install into this classic. Everything is in as-new condition, and he has even gone to the extent of restoring the factory dash pad rather than sourcing a reproduction. The interior is also nicely equipped because the original owner ordered it with bucket seats, a console, power top, air conditioning, and a tilt wheel. Once it is bolted back together, it will be something pretty special.

Buyers in 1971 could order their Chevelle SS with a choice of engines, but the original owner of this car chose the LS5 version of the 454ci big-block. He rounded out the package with a three-speed TH-400 transmission, power steering, and power front disc brakes. When it was new, that V8 would have churned out 365hp. That was enough to easily allow the Convertible to romp through the ¼ mile in 15.2 seconds. The owner admits that the transmission he fitted into the car isn’t numbers-matching, but it is the only item. The original 454 is freshly rebuilt, although he did choose to fit an upgraded Competition Cam. All of the peripherals like the water pump, alternator, and distributor carry the correct date codes for this car. The engine bay has been detailed within an inch of its life, and it presents in as-new condition. The closer you look at this car, the harder it is to find anything worth criticizing.

I have had the good fortune to view many restored classics over the years, and the level of attention to detail has varied widely across these cars. I’m not sure that this ’71 Chevelle SS 454 Convertible is the best I’ve ever seen, but the photos and the listing tend to make me believe it could be a contender. The owner hasn’t tackled it with a “near enough is good enough” approach. It seems that he was striving for perfection, and if anything about it disappoints me, it is that he won’t have the chance to see it through to fruition. However, his loss will be someone else’s gain, and all that I hope is that the new owner maintains the perfectionist approach. If they do, this Chevelle will be one sweet ride when it returns to our roads.


  1. Avatar photo Hoss

    That is one ugly color !!! Yuck, Puke, Vomit !!!!

    Too bad because it is a nice car.

    Like 7
  2. Avatar photo JW454

    Why would you put this much effort into a “Meticulous” restoration and then spray the whole bottom of the car with truck bedliner? Well, it’s not my car so…. Ok.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo piston poney

      because it is better then actual under coating

      Like 6
    • Avatar photo CCFisher

      That does seem odd. Why go to so much trouble with all those little concours-correct details, then make one huge deviation that every show judge will spot?

      Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Nevadahalfrack Member

    Drove the coupe version of this back in the early ‘80’s-the seller does themselves no favors with their photography. In the sunlight this would probably be a rich, beautiful car if it’s the original color. Someone will have a real looker when they finish this project.

    Like 5
  4. Avatar photo GLENN

    All that work and the stripes are wrong, pretty basic chevelle thing.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo ChevelleSS

    Um… Meticulous: ADJECTIVE: showing great attention to detail; very careful and precise.

    Do ya think that would include getting the stripes right, huh? Do ya?

    How about this:
    Amateur: NOUN: one lacking in experience and competence in an art or science.

    Yeah, that’s better.

    Sheese, now my whole day is ruined. :-P

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful restoration. I’ve always loved the 1970 and 71 Chevy Chevelle and Chevelle Malibu, and Chevelle SS.

    Like 4
  7. Avatar photo CCFisher

    I love the old big-block muscle cars as much as the rest of you, Nothing made today comes close to the style or sounds offered by cars like this one. I can’t help but notice that 15.2 estimate for the quarter mile, however. A 4-cylinder Camaro would outrun this Chevelle at the drag strip and on a road course. So, were the late 60s/early 70s the golden age of performance cars, or is it today?

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Pauld

      CC, answering your last question, today is the height of performance cars. For example my 18 Challenger scat pack,392, shaker, idles well, has A/C, gets reasonable gas mileage and goes very fast, and did not cost a fortune. There are many more, LS Camaros, Ford Coyotes, etc. Safer too with air bags and crash standards.

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo CCFisher

        I agree completely, but I think a lot of guys are reluctant to acknowledge just how good modern muscle cars are.

        I have a ’68 Mustang convertible and an ’11 GT coupe. If I’m going somewhere to park and be seen, I’ll probably take the ’68. If I’m going somewhere just for the drive, I’ll take the ’11. It can knock off 1/4 miles in the 12s all day long, then I can cruise home in air-conditioned comfort at about 25 mpg.

        Even more amazing, you can buy a new Accord or Camry that can run a 14-second 1/4 mile. It blows my mind that there are family cars that can outrun all but the quickest 60s and 70s muscle cars.

        Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Troy s

    Performance cars are at their peak now, the newer Mustangs have a growl to them unlike any before…stock, but a car like this Chevelle SS comes from a different era, actually at the end if it really. There was a long pause of practically no real hard running cars, the early eighties saw a resurgence of I’m quicker than you are between Ford and Chevy but nothing really solid until later in the eighties. It’s never really stopped unlike the Golden Era.
    That long pause is what made these cars the gospel of high performance American style, with stories and tales of racing in the street and strip, thats where the “golden era” comes from. And with it of course a big price tag.
    Nice 454 Chevelle but I want to hear that rat under the hood so the sound deadening has gotta go!

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo George Mattar

    At least the work is done. The truth is some guy will pay in the upper 80s for this, take it home and put it in his garage where mice will have their way with it. Very few people actually use these over restored cars for what they were intended – DRIVE. Bed liner the bottom. Does he plan on the new owner driving this in our salt blasted roads here in northern Pennsylvania?

    Like 0

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