When Chevrolet introduced the Chevelle/Malibu into their line-up for the 1964 model year, the age of the American muscle car was just beginning. Their GM cousin Pontiac debuted their GTO, a mid-sized Tempest with an engine borrowed from their full-size line and history was made. Soon other GM divisions were producing their own muscle car. For Oldsmobile, it was the Cutlass 442 while Buick offered up the Skylark GS. Chevrolet’s answer was the Chevelle Super Sport, better known as the “SS”.
With every major US auto company getting involved in this new market segment, competition was fierce between brands. The race was on, and in a short time the phrase, “there’s no replacement for displacement”, was born. Car magazines wrote feature stories, did photo shoots and tested cars supplied by the manufacturers at drag strips. Often, those cars “supplied” by the manufacturers had been treated to special tune-ups and possibly some high-performance internal parts (in some cases even larger displacement engines) but that’s another story for another time.
By the time Chevrolet introduced the second generation of the Chevelle SS in 1968, the big block engines displacing 396 cubic inches and 427 cubic engines were a familiar sight between the front frame rails of the A-body bowtie. The driveline combination of the “rat” motor, a Muncie 4-speed or GM Turbo 400 transmission and the nearly bulletproof 12 bolt Chevy rear end made for excitement both at the track and on the street.
By the time the 1971 models hit the street in September 1970 the Super Sport (SS) designation, officially known as Regular Production Option Z15, had evolved from a performance package to an appearance package. For the first time RPO Z15 could be ordered with any of the optional engines offered by the factory, which included the L65 350 cubic inch two barrel, the L48 four barrel, the LS3 402 four barrel (which was often still referred to as a 396 or a 400 big block) and the LS5 454 four barrel. While an LS6 454 engine option supposedly appeared on pre-production paperwork there is no documentation that motor ever left the factory in a 1971 Chevelle as that option was apparently scrapped early on. There is no number or digit in the VIN to indicate what engine came in the vehicle out of the factory in 1971, as that was introduced in the 1972 model year.
Another change made in the RPO Z15 option for 1971 was that option no longer mandated Chevrolet’s 12 bolt differential. Where in prior years that was included, in 1971 SS models ordered with the L65 engine option received the Chevrolet 10 bolt rear end while the L48, LS3 and LS5 engine options received the 12 bolt. Even then it was not definitive, as the 12 bolt was an option that could be ordered on any 1971 Chevelle including those with the base 307 engine.
Essentially, the only way to conclusively prove a 1971 Chevelle SS came that was from the factory is to have a copy of the original order paperwork or a copy of the factory build sheet. There are, however, indicators that a car would be a true SS based on a combination of factors. As an example, the LS5 454 engine option was only available when RPO Z15 was ordered so it stands that absent a Central Office Production Order (COPO) all Chevelle cars equipped with that engine were Super Sports. Likewise, the LS3 402 could only be ordered if the buyer selected the Z15 option or if the F78-15 tire option was ordered.
A total of 5,089 convertibles were built in the 1971 model year, which includes 277 built for export to Canada. GM records do not indicate how many of those models were Super Sports, nor how many were equipped with specific options. However, with GM listing production numbers for the Chevelle at over a half million units any 1971 Chevelle convertible is significantly rare.
This 1971 Chevelle SS convertible was built in Baltimore, MD the third week of December in 1970. The cowl trim tag confirms that the car presents as built, with Sunflower Yellow (Code 52) paint, a black convertible top and a black vinyl bucket seat interior. While we cannot fully track this car’s previous history prior to the present owner’s purchase in late 2011, we have provenance indicating the car was previously titled in Arkansas and Georgia. While the car appears to be a true Super Sport car, absent factory paperwork or a build sheet that can not be conclusively determined. This is NOT a matching numbers car! It does possess a correct date coded LS3 402 cubic inch engine displacing 330 horsepower that according to information when the car was purchased had less than 1,000 miles on a rebuild. The car has a console shifted Muncie 4-speed and 12 bolt rear differential. It presents nicely, even though the restoration is approximately a decade old. This vehicle also has factory air conditioning, a rare option on convertibles of this time period.
This is an excellent example of an American muscle car that would make a great addition to any collector’s portfolio or the perfect cornerstone for a beginning enthusiast! It will certainly draw attention at any local or regional car show or cruise night! Evergreen Digital Showroom offers this well-restored 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS for $65,000 USD. As with any vehicle we represent, we will gladly assist with transportation and delivery at the buyer’s expense. Financing may be available, with information available at the Financing tab on our website, www.evergreendigitalshowroom.com. For further information or to make an offer, contact sales manager Steve Russell at 417-532-8000.
Because of the number of vehicles we represent we cannot drive every vehicle for long distances. These vehicles have been part of static displays for long periods of time, in some cases for decades, and are subject to the flaws and imperfections consistent with that. While we do our best to disclose all issues we known about a vehicle in our advertising, these are old cars and something that has always worked in the past might not function properly today. Please check the requirements of your state regarding the licensing and registration of classic vehicles and make sure the vehicle you are looking at meets those if applicable. Unless otherwise noted, all vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom possess a clean (non-branded) title which will be provided the new buyer when purchase funds clear our financial institution. Virtually all of our vehicles are sold as mileage exempt due to their age. We do not warranty any vehicle, nor any part of the vehicle including air conditioning systems, brake systems, electrical systems and gauges, fuel systems, accessories or powertrain components.
Descriptions of vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom are intended to be informational in nature and do not in any way constitute any sort of warranty, expressed or implied. Again, these vehicles are presented “as-is, where-is” without guarantee or warranty. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1981 will likely not be included in the databases of companies such as CarFax and AutoCheck that provide vehicle history information to consumers. If you have specific questions regarding a vehicle we urge you to contact us at 417-532-8000.