The C3 Corvette LT-1 has become synonymous with the idea of a high-output small-block V8, and it carried the added bonus of an almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

First appearing in 1970, the LT-1 offered 370-horsepower and 380 ft-lb of torque in a solid-lifter 350-ci small-block, along with an 11:1 compression ratio and a 0–100 mph time of 13.5 seconds. The LT-1 was a Corvette for buyers who wanted a bit more oomph.

The 1971 models are among the least-changed Corvettes, as a labor dispute in May 1969 caused production to run long and shorten 1970 production by four months. GM continued the model into 1971 with almost all of the corporate resources directed toward a reduction in horsepower. The result was an LT-1 with 330 hp, 360 ft-lb of torque, and a 9:1 compression ratio.

Even so, the 1971 LT-1 was tested by Car & Driver at six seconds from 0–60 mph, and from 0–100 mph in 14.5 seconds. The quarter mile took 14.57 seconds at 100.55 mph and top speed was measured at 137 mph.

This beautiful Corvette coupe with matching numbers features the 350-ci/330-hp LT-1 engine with the mandatory options of a 4-speed manual transmission and Holley carburetor. Other options include power steering, AM/FM radio, tinted glass, and RWL tires. The car is one of 2,465 Mulsanne Blue Corvettes and is fitted with black vinyl interior, which is stunning. It is one of 1,949 LT-1s built in 1971 and probably one of just a handful with power steering.

Rare and very collectible, this 1971 LT-1 Corvette was treated to what appeared to be a professional, frame-up restoration completed in 2007 to the original factory build specifications.

Overall, this is a very desirable car that looks great and we shall assume runs and drives accordingly.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1971 350/330 LT-1 Coupe
Years Produced:1971
Number Produced:1,949 (1306 coupes; 643 convertibles, approx.)
Original List Price:$6,314 (coupe), $6,077 (convertible)
SCM Valuation:$25,000–$53,000
Tune Up Cost:$150
Distributor Caps:$19.99
Chassis Number Location:Top of dash, driver’s side
Engine Number Location:Right front below cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Owners of America 900 S. Washington St., #G-13 Falls Church, VA 22046
Alternatives:1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, 1970–71 Pontiac Trans Am, 1970–71 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Investment Grade:C

This car sold for $51,700, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction on January 16, 2009.

In 1971, Chevy’s LT-1 Corvettes were the victim of a pre-emptive move that lowered compression, which GM mandated across the board to meet future 91-octane fuel requirements. The horsepower decrease that occurred as a result left the 1971 LT-1 at a much more conservative horsepower rating of 330, down from the previous year’s 370 hp.

These 1971 LT-1s are still a part of the great legacy of the small-block, solid-lifter 350-ci engine, and they were arguably the high-water mark of the small-block in a GM product.

The respectable performance figures of the 1971 Corvette with the LT-1 were lost for several years soon after the 1971 model year. The choking, downward trend continued for over almost two decades, with the numbers falling further in 1972 with the addition of more changes and the adoption of a different horsepower rating system. The 1972 LT-1 Corvette was down 31% from its peak to 255 hp. Some feel the performance never returned in the venerable small-block V8, which had been used in Corvettes since 1955.

As the former owner of not only 1970, but also 1971 and 1972 LT-1s, I know for a fact that these cars are great performance vehicles. They drive, handle, and perform exceptionally well. In fact, I personally feel they are the best small-block, solid-lifter performance vehicle available.

This particular 1971 LT-1 Corvette was a very nice example of the marque. The frame-up restoration to which this vehicle had been treated left little doubt that even though it was the only LT-1 present at Barrett-Jackson, it would have compared well with any other restored examples, anywhere. The fact it was the only LT-1 reinforces the rarity of the breed.

A good second choice to an LT-1/ZR1

Complete with the mandatory 4-speed manual transmission and federally mandated emissions system (“smog pump”), this numbers-matching LT-1 coupe, which I am told belonged to a retired GM employee, was built with the additional options of tinted glass (a feature you should consider a must on a Corvette that could not be purchased with air conditioning), power steering, AM/FM radio, and raised white letter tires.

The presence of the knowledgeable, chatty owner to answer questions as prospective buyers studied the car very likely paid dividends and probably left the potential buyer with a comfortable feeling with respect to the car.

While the ultimate 1971 LT-1 would undoubtedly be one of the eight LT-1/ZR1 cars built in the production year, this one definitely runs a close second in desirability, given the fact that finding one of eight could be quite difficult and costly—undoubtedly well into six figures.

I’d say that the gavel price of $51,700 left this Mulsanne Blue T-top both well bought and well sold. The new owner appears to have made an astute purchase of a great car at respectable money. And while the seller may have ended up on the short end of the stick, based on the costs involved with this caliber of restoration, he fared well enough in the present market

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