From the "buy the car, get the restoration for free" files comes this very nice 1971 Corvette coupe. With an L48 350 cubic inch small block and an automatic, it isn't going to compete with the 427/435s on the showroom floor, but someone still spent more than the car is worth restoring it to its current condition. It's a great driver that will fit right in at the Corvette National Homecoming each year at the National Corvette Museum, and will get you there reliably, comfortably, and surprisingly economically. If you're a Corvette fan who's been looking for a reasonably priced, fun 'Vette like, say, a garden-variety C5, take another look at this '71-it's a much more interesting car for the money.

The color looks an awful lot like Mulsanne Blue, one of the factory colors in 1971. The repaint is a good quality job applied to straight, undamaged fiberglass. Obviously a well-maintained car, there was just no need to completely disassemble the car to correct everything at the molecular level. But to my eye, the prep was excellent, the gaps are good, and the 2-stage paint is deep and glossy. Not too dark and not too light, it's an understated color that makes you think that the Corvette has grown up and matured a bit. Less a boy racer than a gentleman's sports car, this is a C3 that you can look dignified in while driving just try that with an orange one. In fact, I'd call it exactly the kind of car you'll enjoy waxing on Saturday afternoon before hitting the local cruise with the T-tops off, and it'll get a lot of appreciative glances along the way.

Chrome and stainless is good, and the emblems must be reproduction items because they look so good. The '71s are popular today because they still carried chrome bumpers and a real grille in the nose, a look that still looks good today, 40 years later. Out back, the traditional Corvette round taillights are excellent. This one carries solid T-tops, which I personally prefer, but there are dozens of aftermarket suppliers who can hook you up with glass ones if that's what you like. The rest of the glass is very good with no major nicks or scratches.

Still making impressive horsepower-270, despite reduced compression ratios the L48 350 cubic inch V8 in this Corvette runs beautifully. It fires up quickly, idles well, and runs like its older brothers from the '60s. There's a throaty sound from the exhaust and respectable thrust when you bury your foot. The engine compartment has been cleaned up and presents well with a few dress-up pieces. The engine block itself has been bathed in a fresh coat of Chevy Orange paint, and bright pieces like the air cleaner and cast aluminum valve covers add some flash to what was originally a fairly plain engine bay. A set of headers add a little more oomph to the engine and give it a deep voice that will definitely intimidate the kids in their hopped-up Hondas. There are quite a few new parts under there, suggesting that the restorer's goal was a reliable 'Vette that could hit the road at a moment's notice, and look good doing it.

Backing up the engine is a rugged GM TH400 3-speed automatic, which, to be honest, is a great partner for this easy-cruising Corvette. Still capable of doing some serious cornering and making good horsepower, I wouldn't regard it as a handicap. In fact, more than half the Corvettes built in 1971 carried this transmission, suggesting that Corvette owners appreciate the luxury side of the car as much as the performance. Additional features under the car include a new exhaust system, rebuilt brakes and new shocks all around, as well as a solid chassis with no signs of damage or rot. It rides on a set of perennially gorgeous Rally wheels with recent 225/70/15 radial tires.

Inside, the black bucket seat interior has an inviting, lived-in look that won't scare you out of driving the car. Probably restored a few years ago, the seat covers are in good shape with no rips or tears, but I'm guessing they were installed over the original foam. Door panels are very good, and the dash is nicely preserved. Design-wise, there weren't many changes for 1971, but it's important to note that it was the final year for the fiber-optic bulb monitoring system in the console, which was a trick, but expensive, feature. An updated AM/FM/cassette stereo system is an upgrade over the original piece, and all the gauges are functional. Pull the T-tops off and you're ready to enjoy the summer.

Having fun with your car is what this hobby is all about, and this Corvette represents a lot of bang for the buck. Where else can you spend less than $20 grand and get automatic admission to some of the biggest and best events around? Driving is what Corvette enthusiasts love to do, and this one would make a fantastic long-distance cruiser. Take it to the Black Hills Corvette Classic and convoy with hundreds of other 'Vettes, or hit Bloomington Gold and see the best of the best. This is a car you'll be happy to show, but even happier to drive. And like I said in the beginning, someone who probably knew he wouldn't get his investment back did all the restoration work. Smart buyers always know those are the cars to buy. A lot of fun for not a lot of scratch. Call now!

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Please note: Your vehicle may require Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) verification and/or safety and emissions inspections to transfer ownership and register the Vehicle in the declared State of residence. In most States, such requirements are dependent on the age of the vehicle which varies State by State. We recommend as part of the buying process that you check with your local DMV office to ensure compliance with your declared State of residence’s titling and registration requirements.

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1971 Chevrolet Corvette

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