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1957 Chevrolet Corvette, Smooth And Powerful - From the Archives

Drew Hardin Oct 14, 2014
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The effect is called affine shear, the forward leaning of a vehicle photographed in motion. It was used to dramatically represent the power and speed of a fuel-injected ’57 Corvette that Motor Trend Editor Walt Woron tested at the GM Proving Grounds in the fall of 1956.

“From a standstill to 60 mph, using first and second gears of the manual three-speed box, took a mere 7.2 seconds!” he wrote in his Dec. ’56 “Driving Around” column. “To 80 mph, still in second gear, took only 11.4 seconds. Not having a quarter-mile marker, we had to estimate and time between the .2 and .3-mile marks; our estimate is around 16 seconds.”

Those runs were made in a Vette with the 250hp version of the engine, which was “fairly new,” Woron wrote, “so I kept it to a maximum rev limit of 4,500.”

He liked the way the fuel injection worked. “Starts were quick. Pumping the throttle doesn’t pump raw gas to the cylinders, so you can’t flood it. Throttle response is instantaneous. No maneuver could flood or starve the engine (and I tried with violent cornering and braking). Smoothness is a high point. I took it down to 200 rpm in high gear, then floored the throttle. Outside of a horrible pinging (it didn’t yet have the vacuum advance which later models will have), the take-off was as smooth as if it were in low gear, or in high gear at a much higher speed.”

After sampling the 250-horse fuelie, a development engineer brought out a 283hp car, “with 10.5 to 1 heads, dual exhausts, and the special Duntov cam with solid lifters. This one had just been put together the night previous, but since the engineer hadn’t had a chance to unwind it, he said, ‘Let’s go!’”

And go they did. The Proving Grounds’ long straightaway gave them room to really uncork the Vette, hitting speeds of 132 mph (at around 5,500 rpm) in one direction and 134 going the other way.

“And I’m convinced it wasn’t extended,” Woron wrote. “With a few suspension modifications and more rugged brakes, the ’57 Corvette bodes ill will for the foreign jobs in its road racing class. When their road racing performance is coupled with this new-found performance, it’s easy to scotch the rumor that Chevy is about to back out of racing. You’ll see factory teams at Nassau, Sebring, and maybe LeMans.”

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