Classic 1957 Chevrolet Corvette - It's a "Ruff" Life

This "Slightly" Worn '57 Still Does Its Job

James Miles Aug 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
Vemp_0208_01_z Classic_1957_chevrolet_corvette Front_grill 2/7

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not big on dogs. For me, it's all about selection. Out of the entire canine sub-species, I only really appreciate a handful out of the hundreds. So, when Editor Bob came to me with a story and an outline for what he'd like to see, I wasn't impressed right off the bat with his idea. However, I liked the car. As I read through the tech sheet, I began to agree with what the 'ol whip cracker had to say...this car is a lot like an old dog. For instance, the coat of an old dog may not be as bright as it once was, or as full. Maybe it's a little gray around the muzzle, or doesn't get around like it once did. But, like the family dog, this Vette still knows all the old tricks, and is capable of teaching us a few new ones. It can still fetch anything you need when you go on errands, it still likes to get out and run, and it knows the rollover trick (once the odometer reaches that point). But, like an old dog, it has forgotten a few how to play dead.

John Luther, a retired resident of Palm Coast, Florida, is the original owner of this black '57 Corvette. John is no stranger to high-performance rides; his first car was a '47 Chevy business coupe, which he started modifying by adding duel exhaust and carburetors along with a spiced up ignition. One night John's father came and informed him that his beloved '47 was going to his aunt. He then offered John a '53 Bel Air Sport Coupe. After starting over with the modifications, and taking full advantage of a lifetime guarantee on the transmission, John's father once more approached him about his vehicle and the amount of times a motor and tranny change had been done. "Dad had a long talk with me about the car. Well, the car went back to stock. Then, in the summer I told my dad I was going to get a new Corvette. He said that if I bought it he'd throw me out of the house, lock, stock, and barrel." Many weeks later, on the way home from work, John stopped in at the local Chevy dealership to talk to them about a new car. The conversation seemed to go nowhere he was interested in, until he mentioned the magic word known to us all-Corvette. John was in luck-the dealership had two new '57s in stock: a white F.I., and a black F.I. In no time flat, with $10 dollars down (all that was in his pockets) and the trade in of his now-stock Bel Air, John was a member of the elite. His dad was moved as well-not only did he not throw John out, he paid off the entire car-John now paid his father instead of a dealership, and he was even allowed to miss a payment now and again to make repairs. John's dad even made a few trips with him, only finding fault with the stiff ride.

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But things weren't all roses at the beginning. When John picked up this dreamcar, it had 12 miles on it; by the time it was reading 26, he was winding 6,000-plus rpm through the gears. As John told us, "I said to myself, 'I had a car, but little do I know about this car.' First, the tires didn't last me 90 days. Oh! They would smoke. Then I found out the motor was too much for the clutch and transmission. And even the differential would not hold up. I ended up using an 11-inch cast-iron flywheel from a truck. And I went through several clutch discs." To solve the transmission problems he was encountering, John switched to a '58 T10 four-speed tranny. The differential was good for normal use, but the moment John floored it, "Things" happened. "The differential wasn't the best; it was okay for everyday driving, but not for hard use," John told us. "I went through many differentials, and axles, and axle ratios. A 4.56 Posi-traction worked out the best and longest, even though I went through about four complete units." In the end, a 3.36 Posi-traction was used. Meanwhile, keeping this animal tied to the stake was the furthest thing from his mind...




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