Hey, I have one too! (1971 Corvette LT-1)

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Question:

Hello, I’d just like to tell you that I like your site very much.  As a matter  of fact my dad and I are fixingup a 1971 Corvette LT-1 (350 cu. in. 330 horsepower) it’s a convertible instead of the t-top and blue with blue interior. My dad got it in 74 used and he’s had it off the road for about 10 years or so now and I just thought it would be neat to fix it up u know.  We’ve removed the body b/c we figured thatit would be much easier to work on the engine/transmission/rear/front end also there was no other way to replace  the brake/fuel lines.  I was just surfin the net the other nightand I found your site and just thought it be kinda neat to contact you…by the way nice website again…I’m thinking about creating my own corvette restoration website also…if you have any suggestions or if you had any major problem with restoring your vette please let me know, we’re mainly buying all of our parts from a place called Zip Corvette Products b/c they have a store located about30 minutes away from us…so if you feel like it please write back with any comments or suggestions.

Answer:

Thanks for your message and I am glad you enjoyed the site we did for our ’71 LT-1.

Sounds like you are doing things the right way, and can look forward to years of fun with your project.

Probably the only specific suggestion that I can make, besides having enough funds to do the job right is to join your local NCRS chapter and get a copy of the NCRS judging manual for your year of Corvette. The NCRS and it’s members are probably the best resource you could have. They are helpful, informative, and most would have much experience with the proper way to do a body off restoration.

ZIP is a good place to purchase parts, so is Paragon and Ecklers. You will find that some places will have parts that others may not.

As far as major problems go, you are going to have to be a bit more specific. Each project is different, and the problems that I had, and there were many, might not be the same as yours. These cars do tend to have common problem areas associated with their age and unique design, such as the rust prone rad support, frames, windshield headers and posts, as well as the damage done by older improper repairs.

Let me know if you need answers to any specific problems as you come across them, and I will try to offer some advice.

Good Luck!

Second Question:

Thanks for responding back. Actually our LT1 has been off the road and in the garage since 78. Looks like only serious rust issue we have is the rear frame rail that the gas tank sits on needs to be  replaced.

One of the decisions we need to make is whether or not to rebuild the engine, it only has 88k on it and was running ok , although it hasn’t been started in about 3 years now. Did you rebuild the engine in your LT1, what would be a ball-park cost to do that say to replace the rings, bearings, camshaft and bushings ?

Second Answer:

Thank you for your message.

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I also rebuilt my LT-1 motor, and it had also been rebuilt by a previous owner also.

I had discovered that the valve springs were weak on my car and one thing led to another and the engine was pulled (see my website – restoration section). Apparently the previous rebuild had replaced the solid lifters and cam with hydraulic units and a milder cam, which I had always suspected.

I went through an old issue of Vette Magazine (June 1990) that I had on the LT-1 motor which had listed the GM part numbers for each and every LT-1 engine component, and had the motor rebuilt to factory specs using all the correct factory parts. The only item I changed was to use roller tip rockers instead of the regular ones.

Regarding price, the rebuild work alone is usually around $1,000, and depending on what parts you need, it can go as high as $6,000. I was able to retain my original TRW aluminum pistons, a new set alone would have been close to $1,000. Since the block was bored .030″ over, I needed new rings. Also, the cylinder heads are usually rebuilt, and I suggest that you get the better wearing brass valve sleeves.

My car needed new lifters, push rods, cam, timing gear, bearings, harmonic damper, heavy duty oil pump, valve springs, rockers, bearings, etc., and I had the carb rebuilt at the same time. The lifter bores also needed to be honed out, since the lifters actually rotate or spin as they go up and down. It cost me close to $6,000 Canadian dollars by the time I was through.

You never know what you will find until you pull the motor and the rebuilder takes it all apart. That is when cost decisions are usually made. Make sure you take your motor to a shop that specializes in Corvette motors, and has references. Also, you need to have it painted the correct GM orange.

IMPORTANT!!!!–  Make sure you tell the machine shop DO NOT DECK THE BLOCK! Have them put it in writing on the work order.  Decking the block is a machining procedure that flattens the top of the block where it meets the bottom of the cylinder heads. When you do this, it can erase the all important numbers on your engine stamping pad. If those numbers get erased, your original numbers matching LT-1 motor will be as worthless as a crate motor!

If you had good compression and you engine was not leaking or burning oil, it may not be necessary to have it rebuilt. Once it is running again, have a mechanic do a compression test, to check the rings, and a leak down test to check the valves.

If the motor has not been turned over in a few years, the piston rings may have fused to the cylinder walls. The cylinder walls may also be dry with no oil left on them. Be very careful turning it over or you could break a ring and serious damage to the engine will result. Spray lots of penetrating oil into the cylinders through the spark plug holes, and let is sit for several days before attempting to turn it over. Do not use the starter with a battery to turn it over. Work it around gently and gradually using a long handled socket wrench on the crankshaft bolt at the harmonic balancer pulley. If you have already swallowed a ring, the only way to tell is to pull the oil pan and check for bits of debris. If that happens, and the walls of the cylinders are seriously gouged, you will have to bore out and hone the cylinders to a larger diameter, and install new over size pistons.

Good luck,

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LT-1 admin

Corvette enthusiast

One thought on “Hey, I have one too! (1971 Corvette LT-1)

  • March 11, 2011 at 9:34 am
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    Excellent article once again! Thanks.

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