1971 CHEVROLET CORVETTE – PAST THE PEAK
1970 was clearly the peak of performance, not just in the Corvette, but in virtually all American cars, muscle cars or otherwise. By that time, federally-mandated emissions, fuel economy and safety standards were dictating how cars would be built from now on. First to go was the compression ratio, lowered to compensate for the new low-octane, no-lead fuels. Performance started heading south in 1971 and didn’t come back until technology made it possible again, sometime in the mid-80s. But for now, GM did the best it could with what it had. After a banner horsepower year like 1970, almost anything would look like a step down.
1971 Chevrolet Corvette INTERIOR
1971 Chevrolet Corvette ENGINES
1971 CHEVROLET CORVETTE ENGINE OPTIONS
New low-octane, no-lead fuels forced GM to lower compression ratios across the board, but even more so on its high-compression, high-performance engines, such as those in the Corvette. Where the top-rated small block for 1970, the LT1 350, made 370hp, by 1971 it was down to 330. The base 350 small block V8 now made 270hp, down from 300hp in 1970. Two big blocks were still available, both 454s. The LS5, which produced 390hp in 1971 got choked down to 365hp. However, the fire-breathing LS6 remained at 425hp for this one last year, then it would disappear altogether. It was one of the greatest muscle car engines of all time. And this was just the beginning. Performance and drivability would continue to get worse with each passing year throughout the 1970s. It was a dark time for American Muscle Cars.