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1957 Chevrolet Corvette- A Copper Dream

Chasing The Sun In California.

David Newhardt Apr 1, 2000
Vemp_0004_01_z 1957_chevy_corvette Front_passenger_view 2/1

Sputnik ushered in spaceflight, President Eisenhower started his second term, and Chevrolet's Corvette still had single headlights. Nineteen-fifty-seven was a landmark year in many areas, and the fiberglass sports car from the Bow Tie folks had started to put money in GM's coffers, thus ensuring that it would continue in production.

Performance, real performance, became the clarion call for the Vette. Factory fuel injection was introduced, giving Chevy bragging rights: one horsepower per cubic inch. However, in the real world, it was not so rosy. Early FI units were troublesome, and mechanics were unfamiliar with the option. Word went out that the best performance route was a pair of four-barrel Carter carburetors. Hey, what could go wrong with a couple of tried and true carbs?

The first owner of this Aztec Copper cruiser knew that there were few vehicles that could touch him in acceleration, cornering, and classic looks. A comfortable selection of options, including a Signal Seeking AM radio, a heater, a parking brake alarm, and courtesy lights, meant that convenience was not overlooked. At one point, an owner installed a set of traction bars. Beyond this, not much else is known about No. E57S100131's early days

Fast forward to the early '90s, and Craig Moya has his sights set on a '57 Vette. He wanted that specific year for two reasons: "because it's a terrific looking car that's a blast to drive, and second, I was born in 1957."

Craig hails from San Diego, but he cast his net wide, finally finding a car that interested him at a dealer in Houston. The color was the deciding factor that put the keys in his hand. But like many vehicles that look great, its mechanical condition was less than desirable, with several key components in sad shape or just plain missing. Included in the latter group were the radiator shroud, exhaust, and soft top.

The 283-cubic-inch engine was rebuilt by Dave Meyer at Corvette Specialty in San Diego, and the missing items were replaced. The block was found to be from a '61 Chevrolet, as was the four-speed transmission. A prior owner had repainted the car, so it was left alone. With only 452 Corvettes painted this color in '57, the odds are pretty good that the Vette down the street is a different color.

With a non-original engine, Moya has no trouble putting miles on the Chevrolet, about 2,000 a year. Car shows, parades and Corvette club events contribute quite a bit to the annual tab. His wife, Lisa Foland, shares his love for Vettes, and she has a mint silver-blue split window. Together, they drive an '89 Corvette coupe. But, as Craig points out, "With the '57, the most fun is just climbing in and cruising. It drives like a small truck. How did they race these things? But, in a straight line, it flies."

Moya wants to do a body-off restoration some day, but taking the Vette off the street for an extended period is bound to be difficult. Between the spacecraft, the president and the Vette, only one is left. There's no reason to retire it prematurely

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