1957 CHEVROLET CORVETTE FUEL INJECTED ROADSTER
Chassis No. E57S05212
Cascade green with beige interior
Engine: V-8, 283ci, 250hp at 4,800rpm; Gearbox: four-speed manual; Suspension: front, independent, rear, semi-elliptical leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left-hand drive.
America was sadly without a true sports car until Chevrolet introduced the Corvette at the 1953 Motorama show and started production that year. The Corvette was popular upon introduction, although not many were sold. The early Corvettes were lower and sportier than any other car on the market, but they still lacked the innovative technology necessary to bust open the market.
Beginning in 1955, Corvettes carried a V-8 engine which improved their performance, however the styling badly needed updating. Ford was producing the Thunderbird and it both out-styled and out-performed the Corvette. In order for Chevy to combat the T-bird and beat Ford in the sales wars, they needed to transform the Corvette into a serious sports car. In 1956, Chevy designer, Harley Earl, made a full-scale clay model of the new Corvette that was approved by GM management immediately. It was the car of the American dream. The distinctive "coves" were taken from a 1955 Motorama exercise called the "La Salle II" and became the trademark of the Vette through the fifties. Many greatly needed improvements were made, such as a better fitting and optionally motorized convertible top. The rear fenders were brought forward thus exposing the lights. Chevy used real glass windows and even offered a power option. Every bit of this car showed classic beauty, being stylistically more creative than its predecessors, yet not as crazy as the Corvettes to come.
Believing that great looks are not everything, Chevrolet made vast improvements under the hood as well. For 1957, the engine became the hottest of all. It was bored out to 283 cubic inches with three options. The base engine had 220 horsepower, and with fuel injection it produced 250, while with dual 4-barrels it generated 283hp. In May of that model year however, the fuel injection was increased to 1:1 horsepower to cubic inch ratio. The 1:1 was just what Chevrolet needed to beat the competition both in the market and on the track.
This "fuellie" was purchased for the collection in January 1988. Fuel-injected cars could also be ordered with a new four-speed manual transmission like the car offered here, giving the 1957 models an unprecedented level of straight line performance. While the very attractive Corvette styling was essentially carried over from the completely redesigned 1956 models, the words "fuel injection" and a crossed flag badge prominently displayed along the fender cove gave the cars immediate celebrity status. Additionally, Corvette won the SCCA B Sports national title and Class B production sports title for 1957.
Upon purchase, the car underwent a comprehensive restoration which took two years to complete. The cosmetic work was carried out by three renowed specialists 3R Custom Coachworks Incorporated of Garden Grove, California, West Coast Corvettes of Orange, California and Mike's Corvette Service. The bodywork was fully dismantled, and stripped of all the paint and ancillaries and rebuilt to the very highest degree. All this work including some mechanical work by Corvette Mike cost in excess of $19,000. In 1993, Doug Prince, the famous fuel injection specialist, rebuilt the fuel injectors and fitted new accessories where necessary. This is a very rare late example with the 250HP engine and only 101 were built.
While this resplendant vehicle has not been shown it would be a worthy Concours contender. Since joining the Blanc stable it has only covered around 600 miles, it has of course been pampered and exhibited in the private Beverly Hills showroom.