Friday, July 6, 2012

Car Of The Day: July 6, 2012

Today's car of the day comes from juantoo3's collection and is High Speed's 1957 Chevrolet Corvette.

The Chevrolet Corvette (C1) is the first generation of the sports car by the Chevrolet division of General Motors introduced late in the 1953 model year and produced through 1962. It is commonly referred to as the "solid-axle" generation, as the independent rear suspension didn't appear until the 1963 Sting Ray. The Corvette was rushed into production for its debut model year to capitalize on the enthusiastic public reaction to the concept vehicle, but expectations for the new model were largely unfulfilled. Reviews were mixed and sales fell far short of expectations through the car's early years. The program was nearly canceled, but Chevrolet would ultimately stay the course and Harley Earl and company would transform the Corvette into a true world-class sports car.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Chevrolet Corvette

The early Corvettes weren't very good cars.  But from humble origins came a car that can take on the world's best.  By 1957 Chevrolet had gotten the hang of sports cars and the public finally started buying them.  But sales paled when compared to the Thunderbird's ('57 would be the last year for the sporty 2 seat T-Bird).

There was no doubt Chevrolet was in the sports car business with the release of the 1956 model. It featured a new body, a much better convertible top with power assist optional, real glass roll up windows (also with optional power assist), and an optional hardtop. The 3-speed manual transmission was standard. The Powerglide automatic was optional. The six-cylinder engine was gone. The V8 remained at 265 cubic inches but power ranged from 210 hp to 240 hp. The volume was 3,167, a low number by any contemporary standard and still less than 1954's 3,640, meaning this was the third lowest-volume model in Corvette history. Rare options: RPO 449 special camshaft with the 240 hp engine (111), power windows (547).

Visually the 1957 model was a near-twin to 1956. Engine displacement increased to 283 cu in (4.6 L), fuel injection became optional, and a 4-speed manual transmission was available after April 9, 1957. Fuel injection first saw regular use on a gasoline engine two years prior on the Mercedes-Benz 300SL "gullwing" roadster. Although the Corvette's GM-Rochester injection used a constant flow system, as opposed to the diesel style nozzle metering system of the Mercedes', the Corvette's engine nevertheless produced about 290 hp (216 kW) (gross). This was underrated by Chevrolet's advertising agency for the 283 hp (211 kW) 283 small-block V8 one hp per in³ slogan, making it one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 hp/in³. Pushed toward high-performance and racing, principally by Zora Arkus-Duntov who had raced in Europe, 1957 Corvettes could be ordered ready-to-race with special options. Fuel injection was in short supply and 1,040 Corvettes with this option were sold. Rare options: RPO 579E 283 hp (211 kW) engine (1 hp per cubic inch!) with fresh air/tach package (43), RPO 684 heavy-duty racing suspension (51), 15" x 5.5" wheels (51), power windows (379), 4-speed transmission (664).

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