It is said that perseverance in the face of tribulation is the test for which the mettle of man can be judged; a selfless act of character whereas one acts above self-preservation to achieve great and mighty goals in the height of conflict. This is commonly labeled heroism during times of battle and war, nobility when in the protection of one's family or friends, or patriotism in moments of national crisis. These Herculean efforts are remembered in song, story, tale, and historical document. Yet, when somebody throws themselves at a personal objective, though rather small to the unknowing impersonal eye, with the same kind of zeal, it's looked at as being weird or even eccentric. Chip Travis fought against the wearing of time, nonexistent finances, lack of experience, and failing health to pull together a third-generation family owned '57 Corvette roadster.
Chip's father purchased the '57 in 1967. Picking up the ten-year-old Corvette for $1,050, he established a contract that would allow him to pay off the sum for $35 a month for the next few years (a song considering that most monthly cell phone bills these days surpass, if not double, that amount). Chip's father, then newly married, received quite a bit of grief from his bride for buying a ten-year-old car for a thousand dollars. But under the momentum of the Vietnam conflict, Chip's father enlisted in the U.S. Navy, handing off the Corvette to his father-in-law, who happily paid off the remaining balance. Thankfully, he returned unscathed to his wife and his four-year-old son. Begrudgingly, Chip's grandfather returned the prized '57 to his son-in-law. With a young family, his father was forced to re-evaluate the practicality of having a two-seater roadster while trying to raise a family. Instead, he garaged the Corvette in hopes of one day painting it.
There, the Corvette would sit until 1990 when Chip graduated from college. Growing up, his father had made the promise that once Chip graduated, the Corvette was his. Complying with his end of the bargain, the roadster's keys were handed over. Unfortunately, 18 years of storage had reduced the Corvette to a pile of parts. under the weight of student loans, a new family, and starting a career, Chip was nowhere near the position to allow him to impart on a restoration project, nor able to conduct one by himself. Chip contacted Bill Davis of Wild Bill's Corvette in Wrentham, Massachusetts. With the help of his father, Chip was able to bring the '57 to Bill's shop in January 2000. During the detailed documentation of the mechanical rebuild, Bill discovered the Corvette had originally come with a dual-quad carburetor setup. shortly thereafter, he located a date-correct pair of carbs with an intake for the engine.
Once the Corvette was returned to its original working order, the running car was driven to Kevin Congden for the paint and body. Kevin is widely known for his skills with an airbrush, but opted to trade his airbrush in for a paint gun for Chip's Corvette. But before any paint could be applied, Kevin dove into repairing the weakened 40-year-old fiberglass body. Kevin concluded his work in October 2002. Chip and his father then began reinstalling all the chrome trim, lights, and badging. Unfortunately, at this time, Chip was diagnosed with kidney cancer shortly after being involved in a car accident with a bus. Recuperating from both ordeals, Chip chose to slowly tool away on the Corvette as a form of escape. Thankfully, the cancer was treated successfully, and Chip was able to take the Corvette to Mike Bottini of Bottini Interiors in Rome, New York. There the cabin of the '57 would be returned to its previous simplistic beauty and have a new top installed.
Finally finished, Chip was able to take the car out for the first time. As fate would have it, his grandfather who had been watching and waiting for its completion, had passed away. But, in his stead, his grandmother was more than happy to sit shotgun as Chip took her for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood with the top down, recalling when she and her husband used to own the car in 1968. Chip hasn't told us how often his father tries to steal the keys from him, but he did admit that he has enlisted his two sons, Preston and Paxton, as hired hands to prep the Corvette for shows and cruise nights. After all, this car has been a family affair.
Chip Travis' '57 Corvette by the Numbers
By: Alan Colvin
General InformationYear: 1957
Engine: 283 ci
Transmission: Borg Warner Four-Speed
Engine Code suffix: EH
Casting No. 3731548
Casting No. 3740997 (cast iron)
Intake/Exhaust Valve Size: 1.72/1.50
Combustion Chamber: 55.6685
Intake Manifold (Aluminum)
Casting No. 3739653
Carter WCFB (2)
Casting (Left Hand) No. 3733975
Casting (Right Hand) No. 3733976
Stamping No. 1110891 Engine/HP/Application: 283/245 hp
Housing: Cast Iron Bowl Distributor
Notes: Tach Drive, No Vacuum Advance Generator
1102043, 30 Amp, Std. Tach Drive
Borg Warner Four-Speed Close Ratio
Maincase: Cast Iron
Maincase No.: T10-1
Tailhousing No.: T10-7
Sidecover No.: T10-148
Special Information: Became available in May 1957
1957 Rear Axles
All '57 Corvette rear axles are stamped with an alpha-numeric code, which identifies the build source, axle ratio, and date of manufacture.
The axle code is located on the front right or passenger side of the differential carrier at the same height as the axle tube. The axle code will read from left to right or bottom to top. The prefix or two-letter code designates the gear ratio and any other specific information about that rear differential. This code also refers to the manufacturer or source which built the rearend.
The numbers following the letter prefix designate the calendar month and day that axle was produced. From the 1955 through 1962 model years, the calendar month was designated by a one-number code from January (1) through September (9). The October through December codes were designated as 10-12, respectively. Beginning with the '63 model year, all month designations begin with a "0" so the January date code would show "01" instead of "1" as in previous years.
These rear axles were part of number 684 option code released approximately 3/1/57, which included heavy duty brakes and suspensions.
From Corvette By The Numbers by Alan Colvin, used with permission of Robert Bentley Publishers.