Rare LS6 454-4 Speed! 1971 Chevrolet Corvette

“The LS6 is dead, long live the LS6!” That’s how things seemed at the conclusion of the Chevrolet’s 1970 model year. But the show wasn’t over just yet and this 1971 Chevrolet Corvette is living proof. We have to check this one out, it is a rare bird! It’s located in Napoleon, Ohio and is available here on ProTeam Corvette with a “make an offer” option. Thanks to Larry D for this tip!

If you’re a Chevrolet fan, the RPO LS6 designation is the big kahuna of muscle car engines, all 450 gross HP of its 454 CI displacement. It was a one-and-done for the ’70 Chevelle/El Camino and didn’t make a return for ’71. However, the Corvette, which missed out on the 460 HP LS7 in ’70 got its bite at the apple in ’71 with a slightly downrated LS6 – total production equaling 188 copies. But wait, there’s more! This 1971 ‘Vette also has the rare, one year only, RPO ZR2 package which included, according to hotcars.com, “contained every high-performance option one could ask for. Such as J50/56 power heavy-duty brakes, F41 suspension with larger anti-sway bars, a dual-disk clutch, M22 “Rock-Crusher” 4-speed manual transmission, stabilizer bars, and a heavy-duty lightweight aluminum radiator to help all those horses cool“. And yup, only twelve buyers anted up for this performance package.

For 1971, the 450 HP LS6 engine saw a swap of aluminum open chambered cylinder heads in place of 1970’s cast iron, closed chamber pieces. The result was a compression ratio drop from 11.25:1 to 9:1 and a horsepower reduction from 450 gross down to 425 gross. But, there was better breathing due to the compression chamber shape and a significant weight saving. And if you have had to pull a cast iron Chevy big-block head, you’ll appreciate the weight reduction. This gem of an engine was planned for the Chevelle, El Camino, and Monte Carlo too but it was nixed at the last late summer moment in ’70. The El Camino sales brochure even listed it as an option, briefly, before being reprinted without mention. As for the Monte Carlo, the earliest ’71 examples had an LS6 reference in the owner’s manual but that was a short-lived proclamation too and was quickly revised.  By ’72, the LS6 was gone, a victim of the Clean Air Act and the desire to remove lead from gasoline. As to how this one runs, perfectly I imagine, it was supposedly restored at a cost of $300K. Of note, there is no ignition shielding covering the distributor because this ‘Vette was ordered without a radio and the shielding was, therefore, not needed. Oh, the orange painted valve covers are correct, no chrome versions were used in this case. The M22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed manual transmission is a close-ratio piece with a real high-pitched whine – it sounds like it’s out of lubricant but that’s due to the cut of the gears and the hardness of the synchronizers.

The Brands Hatch Green finish is superior (what do you expect for a $300,000 redo, not Maaco, right?) Restored by renowned Corvette expert Kevin Mackay, this car is an award winner but would you expect less? The exterior appearance offers no suggestion as to this Corvette’s superior capability as it looks like any other 454 equipped ‘Vette from that year. It’s really a bit of a sleeper.

When you have a green exterior, what would you expect for an interior (remember, this is 1971)? Why green of course! And why not, we had green kitchen appliances (avocado really) and green bathroom fixtures, so it makes sense that the green train would follow on, right into our ’70s cars. And of course, this environment shows as it did when this Corvette rolled off of the St. Louis, MO assembly line.

No doubt about, this is a spectacular find and it appears to have been excellently, and faithfully restored. It’s really a double green stamp car because of both the LS6 engine and the ZR2 performance package. My surprise is how many of these LS6 ‘Vettes I have encountered over the years, remember, there were only 188 assembled but I can usually find a least one, or more, for sale at any given time. Now, as for the make an offer option, without a requested price, I’m not much on negotiating against myself and in the past, have passed on car listings with that open-ended approach. Of course what I’m interested in never occupies the rarified air that this undoubtedly, hermetically sealed, Corvette breathes. Still, it’s always a treat to find one of these – from a performance perspective, it was the end of an era. What’s your thought on the pricing matter, are you agreeable to the concept of making an open-ended offer?

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Comments

  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    What a beast with a price tag to match (I assume)

    Like 4
  2. CJinSD

    Some sports cars look fine with green paint. Do any cars look okay with green interiors?

    Like 4
    • Harry Quinn

      They do when they are covering a monster like this one.

      Like 5
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I thought my green/green/green (vinyl top) ’73 Barracuda looked pretty good. It got me hooked on the looked.
      I have also had a green ’70 Corvette convertible.
      I’m glad to see that some manufacturers are still using green.
      My ’22 Bronco may very well end up as green.

      Like 1
  3. JoeNYWF64

    The GM quadrajet was bought by Ford! to meet emissions WITHOUT AN AIRPUMP on its hi po 429 v8 in 1970 & 71 cars.
    I wonder why Chevy could not modify the
    Q-jet for big hi po vette motors to also avoid the air pump(shown above).

    Like 5
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    And then there’s the green ’67 big block coupe we didn’t buy for 13K in the late ’80s… Beautiful car.

    Like 7
  5. Don Thomas

    Nice Vette… Terry

  6. Larry D

    I was a mere lad of 19 in 1971 when I went to our local Chevrolet dealer to get them to price a new Corvette ZR-2 for me. I had read about them in Hot Rod or Motor Trend.

    The salesman was very nice to me and he gladly did the option list and then ciphered the figures. And then he hit me with the bad news. This 1971 ZR-2 Corvette would be over $7000! I’m not sure if we even talked about a discount because I was working part time in a grocery store making $1.65/hour.

    So, I left there so thoroughly dejected.

    And to this very day, I remember doing that and realizing that if I had had the money, the total production of ZR-2s would have been 13 cars.

    Like 14
  7. Gary

    Nice car that will go to Japan, most likely. 300k for a restoration? Sorry, I don’t buy it even if it was a bare shell on a body dolly.

  8. Frank

    Corvette lovers “Go for it” This is a keeper if you can afford it. The benefit is YOU can actually work on it. No built in spy stuff from the USG or Tech Companies. No Alexa to listen in on your conversations. A proper American Pie tire burner from that era.

    Like 6
  9. DST

    All I can say is WOW!!!-this beast leaves me speechless

    Like 2
  10. bikefixr

    Why is this on this forum? Has it been lost and then found? Why not just scan the latest MECUM offerings and start posting those, too.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      Because they only built 13 of them?

      Like 2
      • Frank Sumatra

        Bring a million dollars. If GM built 12 or 13, how many legit ones are left?

  11. George Mattar

    I owned a Brands Hatch Green 71 coupe over green vinyl in 1976. However, it was only the 365 hp LS5. Paid $5,300 in May 1976. Perfect no hit body. Had to sell in 78 to pay for college. Oh the memories at 125 mph with that 3.08 rear.

    Like 4
  12. DBW31

    Free advertising for a vette dealership. Apparently things are so bad that they can’t buy their own advertising.

    Like 1
  13. Edward

    There’s an orange twin of this car for sale on Bring a Trailer. Maybe, everybody is selling their “rare” cars?

    • Larry D

      @ Edward
      You wrote: “There’s an orange twin of this car for sale on Bring a Trailer. Maybe, everybody is selling their “rare” cars?”

      Oh no there is a HUGE difference between the Ontario Orange ’71 LS6 and this Brands Hatch Green ’71 ZR2 Corvette. The orange car is an LS6 but not a ZR2 and that makes for a tremendous amount of difference in their values. Yes the LS6s are rare in that they only made 188 of them. But the ZR2 takes that a big step farther. The ZR2 option package cost $1747 (a lot of money in ’71) and it included the LS6, mandatory M22 Rock Crusher transmission (the plain LS6 could be had with an automatic), HD power brakes, transistor ignition, special aluminum radiator and special springs, shocks and front and rear stabilizer bars.

      Additionally, since the ZR2 was intended for those who wanted to go racing, the following options were NOT available with it;
      POWER WINDOWS
      REAR WINDOW DEFROSTER
      AIR CONDITIONING
      POWER STEERING
      DELUXE WHEEL COVERS
      ALARM SYSTEM
      AM-FM/AM-FM STEREO RADIO

      The LS6s were serious business. The ZR2 LS6s were the most intensely serious business.

      Because of their option deletions and the expensive price, there were only 12 (TWELVE) ZR2 Corvettes built EVER! Compare that to 188 LS6s and you can see there is a huge difference in the two cars.

      Like 4
  14. Larry D

    @Edward

    Just to clarify my response above, the LS6 engine was required with the ZR2 package.

    Like 2
  15. PAW

    Out of the 188 LS6 Corvettes made only 250 are left

    Like 3
    • John S Dressler

      Aw, cmon guys! You gotta admit – that was funny!

      Like 1

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