After all the excitement of 1970 and what many consider the pinnacle of the muscle car era, 1971 could be viewed as the market's first "coming down" trip. Increased emissions standards, revised power measurements, and more monitoring by the insurance industry combined to rain on everyone's parade. The LS6 with its 450 HP was gone, and the LS5 was only at 365 HP gross/285 HP net, and the 396/402 was available at 300 HP gross/260 HP net. To prepare for low lead/no-lead gas, compressions ratios had dropped, and horsepower along with them.
A positive for '71 was the availability of the SS option with all engines except the six-cylinder and base 307 V-8. The five-spoke rally wheels that debuted with the '70 Camaro became available in 15x7 inch diameter. Outside these things, the '71 sported a new single headlight front end that kept the same grille as the '70, with revised parking lights. Out back was a new bumper design, with four circular taillights replacing the two rectangular units of '70. From there pretty much everything was the same. The color option list was 15 choices strong as well.