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Corvette Fuel Injection:

One Giant Leap

1957 Corvette in Venetian Red 1957 Corvette Brochure Illustration

GM brochure courtesy Skip Marketti of The Nethercutt Collection

1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Chevrolet pulled something amazing out of the hat for 1957: Fuel Injection. First run in 1956 at the Sebring race, the Rochester Ramjet injection was an answer to Mercedes-Benz which featured fuel injection in the 1954 300SL. The innovation solved a fuel starvation problem caused by fuel sloshing while cornering with carbureted engines under race conditions. The fuel injection system is displayed in a cutaway drawing to the left.

To keep this development in perspective, consider this. Almost all of the high priced supposedly advanced competition -- including Jaguar, Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini -- did not go with fuel injection until the 1970s or later.

The new system was complex and costly however. At $484.20, the one option added over 15% of the price of an entire Corvette. Buyers found it irresistible however, with 1,040 checking the box on the order form. The complexity also resulted in a high maintenance reputation.

Not up for debate is the way the market treats fuel injected Corvettes of the era. Corvette enthusiasts went for it in a big way in 1957 and more so 50 years later as a collectable; the price premium for a "Fuelie" as they are often called is significantly higher than their more mundane carbureted cousins.

Some people will disagree with the high maintenance moniker applied to the fuelie Corvette. The problem they say is that people who are unfamiliar with how the systems work try and think of them as carburetors as that is what they are used to. When properly set up, they are trouble free for many years.

Classic David Kimble cutaway illustration of the Corvette fuel injected motor Classic David Kimble cutaway illustration of the Corvette fuel injected motor. It was available in 250 hp and 283 hp configurations. The 283 horsepower version represented a breakthrough; for the first time the 283 cubic inch displacement matched the 283 horsepower rating of the engine.

Corvette Fuel Injection Corvette Fuel Injection

Above left: Fuel Injection as installed in an early Corvette; Right: Later Fuel Injection system on display.

Corvette Fuel Injection Fender Script
1957 and subsequent Corvettes proudly wore their new technological identities on the front fenders (above) and trunk lids (below).
Corvette Fuel Injection Trunk Script

1957 Corvette For Sale

Matching Numbers
Price: $100,000
Exterior: Polo White
Interior: Red
Miles: 92,000
Location: Ashton, Maryland

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Polo White exterior with red scoops; red interior; All matching numbers; Power Glide; Wonderbar Radio; Wide white walls by Coker; Series No (more)

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1957 Corvette four speed transmission There was more good go-fast news for Corvette buyers in 1957. Just south of the clutch, a new four speed manual transmission became available as of April 9, 1957. 664 1957 Corvettes were so equipped at an extra cost of $188.30. Special four speeds had been installed in some race cars, so apparently the "More is Better" philosophy applied.
1957 Corvette Four Speed Transmission T10
The importance of this development cannot be overstated. A four speed was the ticket to sports car street cred; as of the introduction of the four speed the Corvette started to be take seriously by the high performance sports car community.

1957 Corvette Fuel Injected Airbox
1957 Corvette RPO 579D Racing Tachometer

Above and below: A very special fuel injected 1957 Corvette with an airbox intake. It is RPO 579E and only 43 were made. As a racing option, it cost a whopping $726.30 or $242.10 more than the standard fuel injection system.

Right: Special steering column mounted competition mechanical tachometer was part of the package.

1957 Corvette Fuel Injected Airbox
Also available in 1957: RPO 684, a racing suspension intended for serious racers. It included suspension and brake upgrades along with a positraction differential. The cost was $780.10 and was installed on only 51 Corvettes in 1957.

1957 Corvette C1 Fuel Injected RPO 276 Wheels
Notice the small wheel covers in this 1957 fuelie? It's RPO 276 and was a 15" x 5.5" wheel; stock wheels were 5.0" wide.

Old Boy ad pointing out that the Corvette could competete with the imports

"Really Old Boy, You Aren't Supposed To Build That Sort Of Thing In America; Y'Know"

The marketing people had started to become aggressive with the competition. This was the start of a series of ads that continued for many years, pointing out that the imports did not entirely own the sports car world.
1957 Corvette in Aztec Copper

1957 Corvette Options, Prices

RPO Description Production Price
101 Heater 5,373 (84.76%) $118.40
102 AM Radio, Signal Seeking 3,635 (57.34%) $199.10
107 Parking Brake Alarm 1,873 (29.55%) $5.40
108 Courtesy Lights 2,489 (39.26%) $8.65
109 Windshield Washers 2,555 (40.31%) $11.85
276 Wheels, 15x5.5 (5) 51 (0.80%) $15.10
290 Whitewall Tires, 6.70x15 5,019 (79.18%) $31.60
303 3-Speed Manual Transmission 4,282 (67.55%) n/a
313 Powerglide Automatic Transmission 1,393 (21.98%) $188.30
419 Auxiliary Hardtop 4,055 (63.97%) $215.20
426 Power Windows 379 (5.98%) $59.20
440 Two-Tone Paint Combination 2,794 (44.08%) $19.40
469A 283 cu. in. 245hp Engine two 4 bbl. carburetors 2,045 (32.26%) $150.65
469C 283 cu. in. 270 hp Engine two 4 bbl. carburetors 1,621 (25.57%) $182.95
473 Power Operated Folding Top 1,336 (21.08%) $139.90
579A 283 cu. in. 250 hp fuel injected Engine 182 (2.87%) $484.20
579B 283 cu. in. 283.hp fuel injected Engine 713 (11.25%) $484.20
579C 283 cu. in. 250 hp fuel injected Engine 102 (1.61%) $484.20
579E 283 cu. in. 283 hp fuel injected Engine 43 (0.68%) $726.30
677 Positraction Rear Axle, 3.70:1 327 (5.16%) $48.45
678 Positraction Rear Axle, 411:1 1,772 (27.95%) $48.45
679 Positraction Rear Axle, 4.56:1 n/a $48.45
684 Heavy Duty Racing Suspension 51 (0.80%) $780.10
685 4-Speed Manual Transmission 664 (10.47%) $188.30

Total Production: 6,339
Convertible: 6,339 (100.00%)

Notes: Base Corvette with 283 cu. in. 220 hp engine and three speed manual transmission: $3,176.32


Code Exterior Quantity Interior Soft Top Wheels
Onyx Black 2,189 (34.53%) Beige / Red Beige / Black / White Black
Aztec Copper 452 (7.13%) Beige Beige / White Copper
Cascade Green 550 (8.68%) Beige Beige / Black / White Green
Arctic Blue 487 (7.68%) Beige / Red Beige / Black / White Blue
Venetian Red 1,320 (20.82%) Beige / Red Beige / Black / White Red
Polo White 1,273 (20.08%) Beige / Red Beige / Black / White Red / Silver
Inca Silver 65 (1.03%) Beige / Red Black / White Silver

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Comments (1)

There never was a 283/283. It was based on a new aluminum head w/1.94 & 1.50 valves. Unfortunately only about 2 of every 10 castings were not porous so they were scrapped-but, the casting molds WERE used on the 327 motor until '64 when the 365 & 375 HP motors used the 2.02/1.60 valves.
The Corvette Black Book lists two 283 cu in, 283 hp Corvette motors for 1957, an RPO 579B (production quantity 713) and an RPO 579D (production quantity 43). Is this not correct?

~paul, WebCars! Webmaster
Maybe they experimented with some cast iron versions of the 1.94/1.50 heads (this is just a guess on my part) but from what I've read no aluminum heads made it into production.

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