America was sadly without a true sports car until Chevrolet introduced the Corvette at the 1953 Motorama show and started production that year. The early Corvettes were lower and sportier than any other domestic car on the market but they lacked the innovative technology necessary to break open the market. Starting in 1955, Corvettes carried a V8 engine which improved their performance but their styling badly needed updating.
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 designer Harley Earl made a full-scale clay model of the new Corvette that was immediately approved by GM management. The distinctive coves were taken from a 1955 Motorama exercise called LaSalle II and became the trademark of the 'Vette through the '50s. Many greatly needed improvements were made such as a better fitting and optionally motorized convertible top. Chevy used real glass side windows and even offered a power window option.
Believing that great looks are not everything, Chevrolet made vast improvements under the hood as well. For 1957, the engine was the hottest yet. It was bored out to 283 cubic inches with several horsepower options. The base engine, sporting a single-four barrel carburetor, had 220 horsepower. A two-four-barrel engine was available producing either 245 or 270 horsepower and finally the fuel-injected version made 250 or 283 horsepower. The 283-horsepower version introduced in May of 1957 made the 283 Corvette the first domestic production car with one horsepower per cubic inch displacement. The fuel-injected cars could also be ordered with a new four-speed transmission, like the car offered here, giving the last 1957 models an unprecedented level of straight-line performance. Additionally, Corvettes won the SCCA B Modified and B Production championships for 1957.
This example appears to be very original in all respects. It is unrestored and almost all of the paintwork looks to be original. It has all correct numbers for a fuel-injection model and has the four-speed transmission. The engine bay is dry and clean and a new radiator has been fitted recently. The interior has an attractive period feel to it with the original Wonderbar radio and power windows fitted. The driver's seat squab is torn, but this should be a straightforward repair or replacement. Apart from a few scratches in places and one or two incorrect screws, the car has an original feel and flavor. The recorded mileage shows 25,795. It comes with the original spare wheel, tools and trunk mat. The hard top fitted is a later accessory to this car. Overall it seems too nice to restore this Corvette as it would be a fine contender in any "survivor" field of entries.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1957 Chevrolet Corvette FI
Years Produced:1953 to date
Number Produced:(1957) 6,339 (240 w/ fuel injection)
Original List Price:$3,909
SCM Valuation:$38,000-55,000
Tune Up Cost:$150-200
Distributor Caps:$18
Chassis Number Location:driver's door hinge
Engine Number Location:right side of engine deck ahead of cylinder
Alternatives:Kurtis 500M, Ford Thunderbird (2 x 4 bbl or supercharged)

The car described here sold for a high bid of $58,750, including 17.5% buyer’s premium, at the Christie’s Auction held April 27, 2000 in Tarrytown, New York.
The Corvette package was finally starting to look like a true enthusiast’s car by the end of 1957. Aside from the 283-horsepower fuel-injected engine, it was possible to order your ‘Vette with option package RPO684. This included stiffer springs all around, larger diameter front sway bar, stiffer shocks, quicker steering ratio and ventilated brakes fitted with the now famous “elephant ear” ducts. This probably had a big contribution to the ‘Vette’s on-track success but not many buyers chose the high-performance options, possibly due to cost.
Even in 1957, over 20% of the ‘Vettes were still sold with the two-speed “Powerglide” transmission. (This is a little over twice the number of cars fitted with the superb and legendary T-10 four-speed gearbox.) The four-speed was made available in the late spring of ’57 and began with (approximate) chassis number E57S103500. This late introduction and the continued popularity of automatics makes the four-speed the rarest transmission originally fitted to a ’57. This, combined with the fuel-injected engine, makes this a desirable car. But more important than options (especially to the Corvette crowd) is originality. Without the original bill of sale (what they sometimes call a “paperwork car”), it is difficult to assess whether all of the options came on a particular car, though it is possible to identify each piece as appropriate to a given year.
This car’s unrestored patina could reassure a buyer that he was getting what he was paying for. With the increasing demand for “survivors” in Corvette circles, this car could have sold for as much as $10,000 more if offered to the right crowd. If this 25,000-mile, red, fuel-injected Corvette is what it appears to be, it was very well bought.
(Photo and data courtesy of auction company.)

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