“Every inch a Champion! Every inch a prized possession!” 1957 Corvette sales brochure
- A new 283 CID V8 was made standard for all Corvettes.
- For the first time, performance options were available and could boost horsepower to 283 horsepower.
- Fuel injection was made available as an option for the first time.
Muscle Car Specifications
Chevrolet had been continually tweaking the Corvette since it was introduced in 1953, making styling and performance improvements as they worked to create the first true American sports car. And if they finally got the styling right in 1956, they got the power right the following year.
Visually, the 1957 Corvettes looked nearly identical to their 1956 predecessors, but it was what was under the hood that had changed – and the change was very much for the better. The new 283 V8 produced 220 horsepower, a welcome improvement over the 1956’s 265 CID V8 that was rated at 205 horsepower. Also welcome was a new optional four-speed manual transmission to go with the more powerful motor.
While the standard 283 used a 4-barrel carburetor, the engine also was available with dual-quad carbs that boosted horsepower to either 245 or 270, depending on the engine. But the real power came when the fuel injection option was chosen for the engine. This increased horsepower to either 250 or 283, and was beginning to attract even more attention than the 1956 models had.
Motor Trend wrote at the time that “the fuel injection’s function is notable. You can’t flood it, or starve it, even with violent cornering, and hard braking [and] smoothness is a high point.” The same writer, Walt Woron, said more recently, looking back, that he had been had qualms with the original 1953 Corvette but realized something special in it.
“It was an American Jaguar XK-120 wannabe – yet it cost more and performed less,” he wrote in 2003. “It couldn’t even stack up against some of the hotter sedans of its period. Yet, the first time I drove it, I loved it.”
1957 Corvette Convertible
The allure of the American sports car was likely what got Chevy into the sports car game in the first place, and after a threat of extinction in 1955, sales would continue to rise and stay high for the Corvette.
That upward trend started in 1957 when 6,339 Corvettes were produced, compared to 3,467 the year before. This may have been due in part to a drop in price – while the 1956 models started at $3,467 (strangely the same as the production number), the standard 1957 Corvette had a base retail price of $3,176.
Of course the more powerful engines upped the price of the car, with the most expensive and highest performing engine adding $484.20 to the car.
Another option was a heavy duty racing suspension that added $780.10 to the car, and the aforementioned four-speed manual transmission cost an additional $188.30. A less expensive new option was the ability to add contrasting color body-side coves for $19.40.
Comparison to the 1956 and 1958 Corvette Models
Chevy was always looking for ways to add to the performance of the Corvette, and the 205 horsepower engine in the 1956 Corvette already was an improvement over all previous model’s six-cylinder motors, so the new V8 for 1957 was obviously even more praised. The styling of 1956 had been a welcome change, so it was no surprise that the 1957 models looked exactly the same.
1958, however, would bring in another restyled Corvette. A four-headlight setup would replace the current two-light version, and the interior would be significantly altered. Those that argue that the 1956-57 Corvettes were the epitome of the make would say the new style was unwelcome, but the Corvette had built up forward momentum by that point and certainly had to keep going.
|V8||283ci||Rochester Fuel Injection||283 hp|
|V8||283ci||Rochester Fuel Injection||250 hp|
|V8||283ci||1x4bbl||220 hp @ 4800 rpm|
|V8||283ci||1x4bbl||185 hp @ 4600 rpm||275 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm|
|0 to 60 mph||Quarter Mile||Engine||Source|
|6.0 sec||14.9 sec @ 95.0 mph||283ci/283hp||Motor Trend Dec 56|