1957 CHEVROLET CORVETTE ACHIEVES MANY “FIRSTS”
While the interior and exterior remained unchanged from the 1956 model, the 1957 Corvette achieved numerous significant mechanical and/or engineering firsts for a Corvette. Of course, this was the year that the 265 got punched out to 283 cubic inches. 1957 also marked the introduction of the revolutionary Rochester Ramjet mechanical fuel injection system. And, while only a tentative nod toward safety, Chevrolet installed seat belt “brackets”, but not the belts themselves, those remained a dealer-installed option. This was also the first year that a 4-speed transmission was available (as an option). Numerous other minor detail changes took place, most optional, including a tachometer mounted atop the steering column.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette INTERIORS
1957 Chevrolet Corvette ENGINES
ABOVE: The Rochester Ramjet mechanical fuel injection system was introduced in the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette as the new top-line engine.
1957 CHEVROLET CORVETTE ENGINES
The new-for-1957 283 small block V8 was the only engine offered in the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette. However, it came in many forms. The base engine made 220 horsepower with a single 4-barrel carburetor. There were two engines with twin 4-barrels, the hydraulic lifter-version making 245hp, and the hotter cam/solid lifter-version making 270. There were essentially two versions of the new “Fuelie” engine, the milder (and more streetable) hydraulic version with 250hp, and the wilder solid-lifter version pumping out 283 horsepower at 6,200 rpm. This made the top-line Fuelie the first medium-priced mass-production engine to make one horsepower per cubic inch. Actually, the Fuelie made more than that, but Chevy thought it wise to make the “283-horsepower-from-283-cubes” connection, and they were right. It sounded better and people remembered it.
THE 1956 CHEVROLET CORVETTE “FUELIE”
The Rochester fuel injection system was really the brainchild of Zora Arkus-Duntov, widely regarded as the “Father of the Corvette”. And it was a technical marvel in its time. And they were incredibly sexy to look at. They became Chevy’s defacto method of extracting big horsepower out of their little small blocks. But, they were expensive to produce and finicky to keep tuned. They system was redesigned and scaled up in 1962 for the new 327 small block, and it ran through 1965, when it was discontinued. Chevy figured out it was much cheaper and easier to get big power with big block V8s. For 1956, there were two versions of the setup that earned the small block its nickname “The Mouse that Roared”. This is what led to small blocks being referred to as “Mouse Motors”, compared to big blocks, which were called “Rat Motors”. The lower-rated 250-horse version was vastly more useable on the street, with a milder cam, lower 9.5:1 compression and hydraulic lifters, and was available with either the 3-speed manual or the 2-speed Powerglide automatic, each with their own RPO numbers. But the hot-shoe edition was the 283-horse Fuelie with 10.5:1 compression, a bigger cam and solid lifters. A wicked engine in its day, one of the fastest in 1956, to be sure. But peaky and barely drivable on the street.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette SPECIFICATIONS
Bore & Stroke
Weight Distribution, F/R
Water-cooled 90-degree OHV V8, cast iron block & heads