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1957 Corvette Art Prints
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Illustrated Corvette Series-II No. 164
1957 Fuel-Injected Corvette
"Detroit's First Fuelie"
To read the story, CLICK HERE.




Parchment Paper
Illustrated Corvette Series-II No. 164
1957 Fuel-Injected Corvette
"Detroit's First Fuelie"


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Illustrated Corvette Series-II No. 164
1957 Fuel-Injected Corvette
"Detroit's First Fuelie"
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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 147
Zora Arkus-Duntov's
Mule Corvettes - Pt. I
To read the story, CLICK HERE.

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 145
1957 RPO 684 Corvette
The First Corvette Racer Kit
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Kit Car Profile No. 24
1957 Corvette
To read the story, CLICK HERE.

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 145
1957 RPO 684 Corvette
The First Corvette Racer Kit
11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 140
1957 Q-Corvette
The Genesis of the C5 Corvette
To read the story, CLICK HERE.

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 10
1957 Q Corvette
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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Illustrated Corvette Series II No. 140
1957 Q-Corvette
The Genisis of the C5 Corvette

Illustrated Corvette Series II
No. 5
1957 Corvette
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Illustrated Corvette Series II No. 140
1957 Q-Corvette
The Genisis of the C5 Corvette

Laser-Etched I
llustrated Corvette Series II No. 5
1957 Corvette
11x17 Laser-Etched Print
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Illustrated Corvette Series No. 5
1957 Corvette

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 7
1957 SS Corvette Racer
To read the story, CLICK HERE.
11x17 Parchment Paper Print
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1957 Corvette Profile
with Hardtop

1957 Q-Corvette Profile
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1957 RPO 684 Fuel Injected Corvette
C1-2

Laser-Etched 1957 RPO 684
Fuel Injected Corvette / LZ-C1-2
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Fuel Injected
283 Corvette Engine

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283 Corvette Engine
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Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 164 - 1957 Fuel-Injected Corvette "Detroit's First Fuelie"

Today, fuel-injection is no big deal. But lets roll back the clock at least 60 years. The first successful mechanical application of gasoline F-I was in the V-12 engines used in the WW II Messerschmitt Bf 109 airplane. After the war, Mercedes-Benz used direct-injection in their W. 196 Grand Prix racer, the 300 SLR racing car, and 300 SL sports car. Mercedes-Benz used a “timed direct-port injection” that was very efficient, but complex and expensive.

In the early ‘50s, the world of sports cars was pioneered by European car makers. Fortunately for us, one of the most powerful and influential designers in Detroit had the sports car bug. GM’s Harley Earl envisioned an American sports car and most of us are familiar with the beauty queen turned street brawler Corvette story. As fate would have it, Chevrolet chief engineer, Ed Cole hired another key player, a man with sports car engineering and racing experience - Zora Arkus-Duntov. Fortunately, GM had an engineer that understood the complexities of F-I, one John Dolza from the Rochester Division.

Cole was promoted to vice president and general manager of the Chevrolet division in July ‘56 and wanted his first production year it to be very special. Specifically, he wanted F-I to be available on all ‘57 Chevy cars for that extra “kick.” To help Dolza get the F-I system sorted out, Cole assigned Duntov to the project. Being an engineer first, Cole was on record saying that if he didn’t have a division to run, he would have loved working on the Rochester F-I project.

Duntov had already make a name for himself inside of GM by using his vacation time to race a Porsche at Le Mans and setting records at Pikes Peak in a modified ‘56 Chevy. Duntov was THE man to work on the F-I project. There were two approaches to F-I; timed injection and continuous spray injection. The former was very complex and expensive, while the latter was cost effective, but still complex. Duntov was thrilled to be part of the project and to work with Dolza. Zora once said, “John Dolza is a splendid man, brilliant and clear thinking. I can spare no words to say how powerful this man is intellectually.”

The entire F-I project had a major setback in April ‘56 when Duntov suffered a broken back after crashing a Corvette at the test track. After a few months of recuperating, Cole asked Duntov to come back to assist with another Pikes Peak run, Then, Harry Barr, Chevrolet’s chief of engineering, coaxed Zora back to work. Duntov complied, wearing a body cast and a Scottish kilt!

While the fine details are very complex, the system essentially has just three components: the air meter, the fuel meter, and the intake manifold. The air meter supplies control signals to the fuel meter based of fluctuations to engine vacuum. The fuel meter uses the vacuum control signal to regulate the fuel flow to the 8 injection nozzles. The intake manifold provides a distribution system for the rammed airflow

From ‘57 to ‘63, engineers were constantly adjusting and fine tuning the system. The Fuelie option had four variations and two horsepower ratings. The $484 RPO 579A and 579C had 250-HP, with 9.5;1 compression and hydraulic lifters. RPO 579B and 579E was the hot, 283-HP setup that had 10.5:1 compression, solid-lifters, and the Duntov cam. RPO 579B went for $484, while the RPO 579E (the racing version) went for $726. When combined with the $780 RPO 684 racing suspension option, plus the new $188 four-speed transmission, and $15 “wide” 5.5x15 steel wheels, a customer had a near-race-ready B/Production Corvette for around $4,682. The F-I Corvette went on to dominate SCCA B/Production will into the early ‘60s.

However, the F-I Corvette wasn’t always easy to live with. Many Chevrolet service departments simply weren’t up to working of such an unusual design. Numerous Fuelie Corvettes were retrofitted with carburetor setups at the request of disgruntled customers. By the time the big-blocks arrived in ‘65, it was obvious that it was a whole lot easier to make big horsepower with cubic-inches than a complex fuel delivery system.

Fuel injection took a 16-year hiatus and came back in a simplified form in ‘82 with the “Cross-Fire Injection” system that used two injectors and a simple computer to regulate the system. A full-fledged fuel-injection system finally arrived in ‘85 with the L98 engine and was the base Corvette engine until the arrival of the LT1 in ‘92. Today, fuel-injection is no big deal. But there was a time when “Fuel Injection” provided Corvette owners with trump card bragging rights.


Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 147 - Zora Arkus-Duntov's Mule Corvettes - Pt. I

Farmers have been using mules as beasts of burden for grunt work for centuries. They're not pretty or graceful animals, like horses. In the automotive world, development engineers often build “mule” cars for R&D work. These mules start out as preproduction or base cars that have been pulled from the production line. They're typically slated for test duty only and never experience life on a public road. And like their counterparts in the animal world, they're worked hard, very hard.

Zora Arkus-Duntov was so moved by the 1953 GM Motorrama Corvette, he applied for a job at GM. One of Duntov's earliest tasks was eliminating the driveline vibration on a new GMC bus. He quickly solved the problem and positioned himself for bigger projects. Meanwhile, the '53 show-car Corvette was being fitted with a prototype 265 small-block Chevy, for evaluation as an engine option in the upcoming '55 model. When Duntov returned from Europe with a class win at the '54 Le Mans race, where he drove a factory-backed Porsche 550 Spyder, it was clear that he was the only man at GM who could make the V-8 Vette into a credible race car.

At this point, the Corvette was still little more than a ‘53 Chevy with a lightweight body and a souped-up six-banger engine. Fortunately, the new V-8 engine was a gem in its day. Weighing in at 531 pounds, it was 41 pounds lighter than the Blue Flame Six, and at 195 hp, it boasted 40 more horses. Meanwhile, at Pike’s Peak, Colorado, Duntov had just set a new record in a modified V-8–powered ‘56 Chevy. During a post-event celebration with Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole, Duntov proposed making 150-mph record run in a special V-8-powered Corvette! Cole agreed.

Duntov used a promotion '54 Corvette as his base. With engineering help from Jim Premo, a short windscreen replaced stock the windshield, and a complete belly pan was built. But calculations showed that 30 more hp were needed to hit 150 mph. Duntov designed an experimental camshaft profile with 60 degrees overlap that eventually became known as the “Duntov Cam.” that allowed the engine to run easily to 6,500 rpm with no valve float. Duntov packed up his mule Corvette and headed for GM's test facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Upon arrival, more streamlining was added to the car, in the form of a tonneau cover over the passenger side, blocked-off front grille openings, and a fin behind the driver's head. Driving the streamlined car with 3.27:1 gearing and stock tires, Duntov was clocked at 163 mph. The '54 mule Corvette was immediately re-bodied with the new '56 design and prepped as part of a three-car team to compete at the '56 Daytona Beach Record Runs. The cars performed so well that they were permitted to run in the '56 race at Sebring. Many more race cars would stem from this effort, but the mule car was never seen again.

But Duntov wanted to compete with the big-league Le Mans racers. A work order was issued to build a single race car, and the '57 SS Corvette was born. But Duntov was shrewd enough to get around the one-car limitation by passing off extra hardware as assembly mock-up parts. While Bill Mitchell's styling group worked out a '56-inspired body, Duntov and his crew started work on a mule chassis patterned after the tube-framed Mercedes “birdcage” cars. The body of the racer was to be of lightweight magnesium, but a crude fiberglass version was built and taped together for wind-tunnel testing. The mule had no doors or rear deck, and the firewall was plywood. With such an ambitious design and only six months of development time, everything was bound to go wrong.. As rough as the mule was, it had tremendous potential. Juan Manuel Fangio drove the overweight car and matched his previous year's practice-lap times, which were recorded in a Ferrari. The real SS Corvette looked great but the magnesium body proved to be an excellent heat conductor and turned the car into a virtual oven. Between the extreme heat and a failed rear suspension, the car dropped out after its 23rd lap. After the race, work orders were issued for three more SS cars to race at Le Mans, but the '57 AMA ban on racing killed the project. The mule was reborn in ‘59 under Bill Mitchell's Stingray body, became the SCCA '59 C/Modified champion, and is still around today.

Like a martial artist, Duntov was always flexible to circumstances. His solution to the factory racing ban was to build the parts and let the customers do the racing. For the remainder of the C1 production run, Duntov made sure that his racer-kit options were up to the task. In mid-1962 work began on a race package for the new ‘63 Sting Ray. It was called the Z06 and consisted of suspension and brake upgrades, a 36-gallon fuel tank, the L84 fuel-injected engine, and other racing parts. The mule car used a ‘63 Z06 frame, suspension, Posi rear, and running gear, and was draped with a one-of-a-kind body that was part ‘62 and part ‘63 Corvette. The car made one appearance at Daytona with Duntov behind the wheel and was never seen in public again.

So what happens to old GM mule cars? They go to GM’s equivalent of the glue factory, also known as the crusher. According to Gib Hufstader, the development cars sometimes escape this fate for a time and are stored in various departments throughout GM. But ultimately, they all outlive their usefulness and end up in the crusher. Such is the life of a Corvette mule. - K. Scott Teeters


Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 145 - 1957 RPO 684 - "The First Corvette Racer Kit"

I would venture to say that, aside from Corvette racing buffs and historians like me, few Vette fans are aware that from 1957 to 1962, Chevy’s sports car was the dominant force in SCCA racing. So how was it that a car that was all but written off as nothing but a beauty queen in 1955 turned into a brute on the race track? That remarkable transformation came courtesy of Zora Arkus-Duntov. Duntov was arguably the only person in GM’s corporate culture with any real seat-of-the-pants experience in a race car. You’ll recall that Duntov entered the Indy 500 in 1946 and ’47 with a Talbot-Lago. He also raced Allards at Le Mans in 1952 and ’53. Then, in 1955, while employed as a Chevrolet engineer, he drove a Porsche 550 Spyder to a Le Mans class win. Who better to spearhead the effort to transform Chevy’s start-up sports car into a track-proven champ?

The 265-cid small-block engine arrived just in time for the Corvette. Of the 700 ‘55 Vettes, only seven had the old “Blue Flame” six-cylinder. Then, in 1956, the Corvette got an extensive face-lift. Duntov was already at work on a souped-up, topless ‘56 that would go on to blast the beach at Daytona with a 147.300-mph run. The team followed that effort by finishing their first sports-car competition at the 12-hour Sebring race. Chevy’s ad men took maximum advantage of Duntov’s racing exploits by running a full-page print ad showing the ‘56 racer in the pits of Sebring, in full race trim with track dirt and an exiting driver. The headline said simply, “THE REAL McCOY.” At the time, Chevy didn’t have a racing reputation and was considered “the new kid on the block,” gunning for the dominant Fords. What better way to stoke potential Corvette buyers than with a hot-looking new car in full battle regalia? Meanwhile, Duntov and his team were taking all the lessons they learned at the race track and creating special “heavy duty” parts that were readily available at any Chevrolet dealer. These parts made it possible for anyone to buy a Corvette racer; you just had to know what to look for.

In order to qualify as a “production car” for racing purposes, all of the parts on the vehicle had to be available from the factory. If you were ordering a Corvette race car from your local Chevy dealer, there were four essential options to get. For $726, RPO 579E got you the racing version of the new “Ram Jet” 283 FI engine. This engine also known as the “Air Box” version, because of the fiberglass air box that was mounted inside the left front fender. The box was connected to the fuel-injection unit’s air intake and ducted to the front grille. Sales literature described this option as “not intended for pleasure driving.”
The second essential option was RPO 684, the new, $188 Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed transmission. This was a fully synchronized gearbox that required no double clutching. For $15, RPO 276 got you the new “wide” 15 x 5.5-inch steel wheels. The final essential option was RPO 684, the Heavy Duty Racing Suspension. This was the setup that pulled it all together and laid the foundation for the Corvette’s dominance in SCCA racing in those days. The $780 package included heavy-duty front coil springs; five-leaf rear springs; a larger front anti-sway bar; larger, stiffer shocks on all four corners; quicker, 16.3:1-ratio steering; and heavy-duty brakes with finned aluminum drums and Bendix Cerametallix pads. The rear-brake-cooling system had ducts running from behind the headlights, down the inside of the rocker panels, and into scoops on the inboard side of each brake’s backing plate. Inside each drum was a small metal turbine that pulled hot air out of the drums. Like the infamous L88 that followed it, RPO 684 also deleted the radio and heater. The option was available from ‘57 to ’59. Then, from ‘60 to ’75, there were various other “racer” packages available.

It was all pretty amazing stuff in ‘57, but it wasn’t inexpensive. The base price of the ‘57 Corvette was $3,176, and when you added on $1,727 of racing options, you were looking at a nearly $5,000 car. Keep in mind that a ’57 Bel Air Sport Coupe hardtop cost a mere $2,299. Only 43 ‘57 Corvettes were outfitted with the three main options. RPO 684 would be the first of many racer kits. As for how many of these cars remain, no one knows for sure. - K. Scott Teeters


Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 140 - 1957 Q-Corvette - "The Genesis of the C5"

The design and development of the Corvette is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting stories in all of Detroit’s history of making cars. The current production Vette is an automotive modern marvel, with the ability to outperform anything from the model’s glory days. Remember, as late as 1967, you could still get a 300-gross-hp (around 225 hp net) 327 small-block with a two-speed Powerglide transmission.

Once the Corvette finally got some racing exposure—thanks to the passion and drive of Zora Arkus-Duntov—the real possibilities began to open up. Thankfully, the car had a powerful friend at the top: Chevrolet general manager (and eventual GM president) Ed Cole. Cole was an engineer and could relate to Duntov’s advanced ideas. The gregarious Duntov probably knew more about sports cars than anyone else in the industry. He was also the only high-ranking Detroit engineer who had actually raced at Le Mans.

Duntov’s influence notwithstanding, Corvettes aren’t just fast cars that handle well. There’s also the appearance factor. Since the early days, representatives of the marque have always looked like they were doing 100 mph sitting still. While legendary GM designer Harley Earl was responsible for the first Corvette’s styling, it was Bill Mitchell and his team of talented designers that gave the later models their aesthetic edge.

In 1957, members of the Chevy engineering group’s inner circle had a revolutionary idea for the brand’s entire 1960 model line. Called the “Q-Chevrolets,” these vehicles would use a rear-mounted transmission and an independent rear suspension. The idea was to improve handling and eliminate the transmission hump from the interior. And yes, part of the lineup included a Q-Corvette.

The list of mechanical goodies planned for the Q-Corvette must have looked like Duntov’s Christmas wish list. GM’s accounting personnel, meanwhile, must have asked, “You want to do what?” At the time, no one realized that the basic layout of the Q-Corvette would ultimately take 40 years to reach production.

The overall project took place under the guidance of designer Bob McLean. Duntov supplied the chassis and running-gear layouts, and Mitchell guiding the styling. Let’s start with the size parameters. This was to be a much smaller Corvette. The wheelbase was 94 inches, the track 53 inches, and the height 46 inches—this compared with the production model’s 102-inch wheelbase, 57-/59-inch front and rear tracks, and 52-inch height. The target weight was a scant 2,225 pounds. Nevertheless, bucks made for size and space proportions showed a larger interior than that of the production car.

The mechanics of the car showed a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Aluminum was to be used extensively throughout the running gear. Not only was the transaxle to be made of alloy, but the fuel-injected 283 engine was to have an aluminum block and heads, along with a fuel-injection system. A dry-sump oiling setup and a small-diameter flywheel with dual clutch discs allowed the engine to sit as low as possible. To reduce unsprung weight, the rear drum brakes were mounted inboard, close to the transaxle. The front and rear suspensions used coil springs over shocks, and the entire drivetrain was to be mounted on a steel platform, similar to the design of the 356 Porsche. Without a separate frame, a steel body was necessary, although Duntov was not in favor of this direction.

The car’s styling also represented a dramatic departure. Mitchell liked the look of the Pininfarina and Boano body designs on the Italian Abarth cars. The strong horizontal crease and fender humps were borrowed from these models. The structure of the Q-Corvette had a roll hoop behind the driver’s seat. This allowed the car to have lift-out roof panels and a windshield with no A-pillar. Stylists Bob Veryzer and Pete Brock worked under Mitchell's direction with the help of six clay modelers. Because of the front end’s sharp edge, pop-up headlights were proposed.

You don’t have to be heavily into the Corvette hobby to recognize that almost every design parameter of the Q-Corvette was achieved with the ‘97 C5. Thankfully, the steel body never manifested, and the steel platform chassis was replaced with steel hydroformed side rails. Aluminum engine components gradually found their way into production, starting with valve covers, intake manifolds, and bell housings in the 1960s, then spreading to the cylinder heads in the 1980s. Fuel injection has been standard since 1982, and disc brakes replaced the inboard drums in ‘65. Pop-up headlights and lift-out roof panels arrived in 1968.

The entire Q-Chevrolet / Q-Corvette concept lasted less than a year. It began in 1957, with work on the Corvette model not starting until the fall of that year. A full-size clay model was presented to the GM brass in December and received glowing reviews.

So what happened? A recession started in 1958, leading Chevy to cancel the entire Q project. Mitchell did use the Q-Corvette’s styling as a starting point for his ‘59 Sting Ray racer, and the basic look served as the foundation for the C2. A running prototype never materialized because of disagreements between design and styling personnel. Duntov wanted a short hood, while Mitchell loved the long-nosed look and the split-window fastback. Were it not for four pages in Karl Ludvigsen’s Corvette: America’s Star Spangled Sports Car, the Q-Corvette likely would have been forgotten as just another design exercise. Fortunately, the basic elements survived and led to the outstanding performance car we enjoy today. Pie-in-the sky ideas can become reality. - K. Scott Teeters


Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 7 - 1957 SS Corvette Racer

The Corvette SS was the first in a long line of great "what if" cars from Chevrolet. The idea of using racing to inspire sales was relatively new to Detroit in the '50s. After great press with the SR-2, it was time to take on Europe's finest and race at Le Mans.


The D-type Jaguar was "the" car to beat in '56. Harley Earl shook up everyone by bringing in the No. 3 '56 Sebring winner, a D-type Jaguar, with the intention of fitting it with a Chevy engine and a modified body, and calling it a Corvette!

Zora Arkus-Duntov was outraged and began his own plan for a Le Mans racer. Duntov's plan was quickly approved and the Corvette SS racer was born. But time was not on their side.
It was summer of '56 and a Sebring debut was only nine months away. Duntov hand picked his crew and began working day and night. Since his crew had never built such a car, Duntov bought a Mercedes 300SL tube frame to use as a model for the chassis.
When the car arrived at Sebring it was still being worked on in the transporter. Although not as refined as it looked due to little track development time, the car was stunning.

The steel blue racer looked like an exotic European. Although most of the parts were off the shelf or bought, the entire car was handmade. Parts were cast in aluminum where possible. The body was even made out of ultralight magnesium! The Corvette SS weighed in at 1850, 100 pounds less that the D-type Jag. Things went badly on the track due to a lack of time. Duntov had a sister "mule" car that was used for testing. The mule actually ran better than the finished car. The new braking system never got sorted out and the magnesium body made the interior very hot.

The untested car had many problems and only ran 23 laps before it had to retire. In June of '57 GM decided to adhere to the AMA ban on factory-supported racing, thus ending the Corvette SS project. As a last hurrah in December of '58 at the Phoenix test track, the car ran 183 mph! If only...

The Corvette SS was the first in a long line of great "what if" cars from Chevrolet. The idea of using racing to inspire sales was relatively new to Detroit in the '50s. After great press with the SR-2, it was time to take on Europe's finest and race at Le Mans.

The D-type Jaguar was "the" car to beat in '56. Harley Earl shook up everyone by bringing in the No. 3 '56 Sebring winner, a D-type Jaguar, with the intention of fitting it with a Chevy engine and a modified body, and calling it a Corvette! Zora Arkus-Duntov was outraged and began his own plan for a Le Mans racer. Duntov's plan was quickly approved and the Corvette SS racer was born. But time was not on their side. It was summer of '56 and a Sebring debut was only nine months away. Duntov hand picked his crew and began working day and night. Since his crew had never built such a car, Duntov bought a Mercedes 300SL tube frame to use as a model for the chassis. When the car arrived at Sebring it was still being worked on in the transporter. Although not as refined as it looked due to little track development time, the car was stunning.

The steel blue racer looked like an exotic European. Although most of the parts were off the shelf or bought, the entire car was handmade. Parts were cast in aluminum where possible. The body was even made out of ultralight magnesium! The Corvette SS weighed in at 1850, 100 pounds less that the D-type Jag. Things went badly on the track due to a lack of time. Duntov had a sister "mule" car that was used for testing. The mule actually ran better than the finished car. The new braking system never got sorted out and the magnesium body made the interior very hot.

The untested car had many problems and only ran 23 laps before it had to retire. In June of '57 GM decided to adhere to the AMA ban on factory-supported racing, thus ending the Corvette SS project. As a last hurrah in December of '58 at the Phoenix test track, the car ran 183 mph! If only... - K. Scott Teeters



Here's the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 10 - 1957 Q Corvette

In light of the new C5 Corvette, the 1957 Q-Corvette is not only the most forgotten Corvette, but the most profound of all concept Corvettes! Mechanical designs for the C5 were actually laid out in this very unique 1957 prototype.

Early in 1957, Chevrolet was in the beginning stages of developing a completely new small car concept that would eventually become the Corvair. Corvette designers saw that the transaxle and independent rear suspension from the Corvair could be used to develop a totally new and revolutionary Corvette. With this exotic piece of hardware, Zora Arkus-Duntov and his designers saw this as a golden opportunity for a new and very different Corvette for 1960.

The rear mounted transmission/axle helped balance the weight of the Corvette. Drum brakes were mounted inboard to reduce unsprung weight. Even the starter motor was on the transaxle for weight balancing. The transaxle case was aluminum and could be offered as either a 4-speed manual or automatic.

Up front an all-aluminum, fuel-injected 283 engine with a dry-sump oil system was proposed. There were to be no steel valve guides, valve seats or piston sleeves. This was to help achieve the target weight of 2,225 pounds.

The proposed structure of the Q-Corvette was a steel platform similar to the 356 Porsche. Because of the transmission location, the interior would have been larger, even though the length and height were smaller than
the production Corvette. The fastback roof had a permanent arch behind the cockpit and removable roof panels. At the leading edge of the windshield, there were no A-pillars.

Bill Mitchell suggested to stylists Bob Veryzer and Pete Brock that the styling should come from the slimness of the Pininfarina / Abarth cars with a strong horizontal line and bulges over the wheels in the upper surfaces. The pointed nose had driving lights in the grille opening and manually operated pop-up headlights. Mitchell's Sting Ray Racer used most of the same styling ideas.

By the late 50's the economy was in bad shape, so GM killed the expensive Q-Corvette. As it was, Corvettes were hardly profitable. So the Q-Corvette was an on-paper and clay-only prototype with some great ideas that took 30 years to produce.
- K. Scott Teeters


Here's the story:
Kit Car Profile No. 24 - 1957 Corvette

1957 was a pivotal year for the Corvette. Chevy's little beauty queen became a brute! America became a car-culture in the '50s. Hot rods were born and sports cars were coming from Europe. Chevrolet got into the act with the Harley Earl-designed, American sports car, the Corvette.

In the early '50s, American car makers knew very little about building sports cars. Earl's Corvette blew everyone away at the 1953 Motorama Show and it was rushed into production, using off-the-shelf Chevy sedan parts. Because no one was sure that the public would actually buy the Corvette, it was decided to use a new material called "fiberglass." If the car was a flop, GM wouldn't be out big-bucks for steel tooling.
A fiberglass body could be built from easily molded parts. Thus the Corvette became America's first production fiberglass car.

Unfortunately, the Corvette's performance wasn't on par with its looks. They tried, but the little Blue Flame-Six and 2-speed Powerglide transmission weren't making it with the sports car or hot rod crowd. Sales were dismal. In the first three years, Chevrolet only sold 4,640 Corvettes. Ford, on the other hand, sold 16,155 Thunderbirds in 1955 alone! Clearly, the Corvette needed something big. The best thing that Chevrolet did to ensure the Corvette's success, was to hire Zora Arkus-Duntov, and to name him to the position of "Director of High Performance Vehicle Design and Development." The Corvette never had a better champion. In a few years, Duntov turned the beauty queen into a brute.

When the new 265 V-8 small-block Chevy came out in '55, Duntov made sure there was a juiced up version for the Corvette. As wonderful as the Motorama Corvette was, the restyling of the '56 Corvette was better. No one noticed or cared that the styling cues were picked up from the Mercedes 300 SL. The new Corvette was taught, aggressive, and hot, because it now packed a dual-quad 265-cubic-inch engine with 255 horsepower. And thanks to the back-door racing efforts of Duntov, the Corvette was beginning to be taken seriously on the race track as well.

When the 1957 Fuel Injected Corvette was released, it was as if the Vette was finally "finished and complete." Fuel injection was exotic stuff in '57, and only found on exotic race cars from Europe. It was the ticket for serious road racers because it eliminated the problem of carburetor "slosh" that racers would experience in hard cornering and when slowing down. The system gave a smooth and even inflow of gas under any condition.

More efficiency means more horsepower. The 283 '57 Fuelie engine made 283 hp at 6,200 rpm. The high-winding, high horsepower engine put the Corvette on the performance map. Duntov also made sure that the suspension was up to handling the extra power. One magazine tested a Fuelie and ran 0-to-60 in just 5.7 seconds, the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds, and hit a top speed of 132 mph!

Duntov cast in stone the Corvette's racing tradition by taking four race-prepared Corvettes to Sebring where they set records against Europe's finest. The '57 Fuelie option cost $484 and was only ordered on 1,040 of the 6,339 Corvettes sold that year. Corvettes were now "performance cars" that were somewhat affordable to the average person, and they make a great replicar. - K. Scott Teeters


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