1957 Chevrolet Corvette – Jay Lenos Garage

Sporting an America-built V8 and twin four-barrel carburetors, it’s no wonder why this is one of Jay’s favorite generations of Corvette.

Welcome another episode of jay leno’s garage people seem to like it when i do my own cars and this is one of my favorites this is a 1957 corvette this is a very special car because it’s honored in 1957 by a young gi who was stationed in korea he went to i guess the base and ordered this directly from korea so it’d be waiting for him when he got home and he wanted

The fastest most powerful lightest corvette he could get so he got the soft-top deleted there’s no heater there’s no radio there’s no courtesy lights there’s nothing on this car that would have added any weight at all he ordered the 283 engine with two four-barrel carburetors and the 4-speed transmission you know a bit of corvette history when they came out in 53

It had that blue flame 6 which was about 155 horsepower and i had the automatic transmission not real impressive 55 they come out with the 265 v8 then at 56 that got a little bit more serious i think 57 at least my my way to think was the first year they said i like we’re gonna go racing here because the only competitor was the ford thunderbird but that was more

Of a personal luxury car that had a 312 v8 and most of those came with an automatic weren’t too many they usually had a three-speed with an overdrive and they weren’t real sports cars there were personal luxury cars whereas this was a true sports car arkus-duntov across the genius behind corvette this is his baby this is when he really got serious most corvettes

Came standard with a manual transmission which was the three-speed the four-speed was optional the gentleman that ordered this he wanted the 283 270 horse with the for 11 years he wanted it to be the fastest thing on the road he ordered a hardtop but no soft top because he didn’t want all the mechanical stuff you know all the i know how many pounds i could add

Just a few but he was serious about racing it and it really is quite a fast car and to me one of the best corvette’s of all time i think this is just classic pure design the later corvettes 58 was a big year for chrome at general motors they put that big toothy grille on the corvette they went to dual headlights most of the gm cars the 58 had massive amounts of

Chrome old nabeel and buick this to me is the most european and the cleanest and the purest design he ordered this in this inca silver was the color i believe only 65 cars that you were painted this color and with the orange it doesn’t sound like it would be appealing when you’re looking at the author sheet but the guy must had a pretty good eye because i think

It’s really attractive the orange and the silver the only thing not stock on this car right now these mag wheels and of course the tires this car was restored by mike.mccluskey he’s our corvette restorer extraordinaire he’s the gentleman that went through my 63 split-window and made it all proper this was his baby everything here is 1957 from the windshield to the

Generator to every part of it this is exactly as it left the factory once again with the exception of the mag wheels a drum brakes all around solid axle car course but a real sports car you know in 57 it was the first year of the fuel injection and the young soldier who ordered this could have gotten the fuel injection but fuel injection at that point was people

What a fuel injection the only other fuel-injected car on the market really was the mercedes 300sl that was the first production of fuel-injected car and it just seemed way too complicated although the fuel-injected car had 280 horsepower well hospital for every cubic inch that was pretty good this with the too far bowels is what most people knew and understood

In fact quite a number of people that ordered the fuel injection as late as 63 eventually went back and just had to convert it to two to four barrels because the hot rodders didn’t really like to work with the fuel injection though you had to be really good at people new carburetors and two four growls are pretty impressive when you open the hood we do when you

Look at the rochester fuel-injection what does that do is that do but two four growls everybody knows what that means the fact let’s take a look at the engine right now come around on the other side when you open these hood you always want to open it from the center so you don’t damage the hinges there we go now as you can see this compartment engine bomber is not

Pristine because this is a working driving car we use this one a lot there’s your two four barrels the other thing not stock is this has a clutch on the fan that disengages a fan about 15 or 20 miles an hour and of course it has a modern battery because we drive this thing something unusual notice that tachometer is driven off the generator a two-to-one ratio and

The cost these pie plate air clean these look like something that would have come from jc whitney you know you put it on afterwards it’s accessory normally gm would have a big giant or they are cleaner sometimes oil baths know these little things he’s a factor that’s the way they came apparently the air was much cleaner in 57 so they didn’t feel they need a lot

Of restrictions you know it’s hard to imagine how impressive this car was back in the day because most sports cars your mgs your triumphs 65 horsepower 70 80 jaguar maybe 220 you might get this is 270 horsepower i mean this is power-wise equal to any of the exotics the ferraris or anything of the period and incredibly fast and to me incredibly good-looking i mean

You had roll up windows and you had all the creature comforts and you had that marvelous new material fiberglass which nobody really quite understood either but a car made out of plastic i don’t know bob what do you think it took people a while to get used to that but as you can see it certainly stood the test of time they’re just wonderful wonderful cars to drive

We haven’t done anything here there’s no headers or anything on it i wanted to keep it completely staff the only thing we did which change the render what did we put in this 350 fours it had four 11s which were a little whiny on the freeway these are just the perfect car to go up the coast on pacific coast highway or drive up in the hills with i mean and it’s it’s

Really fast it’s a pretty lightweight car i imagine it’s under 3000 pounds probably 2,800 pounds so with 270 horsepower and v8 torque it moves along quite nicely it’s nothing to be embarrassed about you know when you go on a run i mean porsche didn’t get that kind of horsepower till what 80 something like that so pretty neat okay let’s put this down again so we

Can appreciate the lines of a car then press each side come look at the interior of the car that’s what’s pretty impressive too i love that speedometer 140 mile an hour speedometer that was whoo those are big numbers back in the day the steering wheel very european with the holes in it notice is no radio i said no heater the tachometer is kind of funny it’s right

In the center of the dash which is like the worst place what is it what oh you know you’re always doing that so i probably would have played up closer but you know a tachometer was a new thing in american cars back in the day because american cars had big lazy v8s and nobody watched the revs you just felt until it was time to shift and you shifted whereas this had

A tachometer which was unusual and especially in american cars of the period you know there’s some cars that just just don’t hold up well you know to me i like my 53 hudson hornet you know it sort of looks like like the t the audi tt now because it’s it’s so rounded and this one is one of those cars there’s nothing on this car that doesn’t really need to be there

You know it’s got a proper trunk i love the taillights i love the way the exhaust system exits through the bumpers as you can see that’s really sort of motorama show car looking stuff when you saw a lot of the gm dream cars 50 they always had the the exhaust exiting through here you know sort of mimic the world war two jet fighters and korean jet fighters that were

Just coming into play so that that’s that that’s pretty neat i love this here i mean these bumpers really you don’t really want to bump them they’re not really bumpers but they’re really attractive and it’s just the right amount of chrome on this car it’s really to me one of the best-looking corvettes of all time and as i said before the first year corvette got

Real serious about racing because you know one horsepower per cubic inch that was unbelievable that was a milestone and a four speed transmission instead of a three speed they went racing they did sebring and they did a lot of racing with these duntov was real serious about taking the car right out and putting up against europe’s best and they did quite well with

It you know it was until the cobra came along that there was any sort of competitor for the corvette and even when the cobra came along it didn’t have the creature comforts that the corvette did you know the roll-up windows and all that kind of stuff easy to put up top and everything else you can drive this like a modern car you can throw it around a bit and it’s

Really quite fun to drive and and people just go nuts when they see it because it’s such a startling good-looking car especially in this combination i’m surprised only 65 were ordered in this in silver but that’s what it was this was a late 1957 car i know if it was the fastest car you could buy an american 57 of a boy it was it was close it was close this car in

1957 was 46 hundred dollars which is a lot of money that was well i remember my dad and i had looked at a cadillac in the mid to late 60s that was also $4,600 so that was top-of-the-line money this is right up there in the cadillac field so and once you stopped putting a few of these options on it obviously it’s it’s it’s gonna go up but your fuel filler door is

Right here correct gas cap you know mike was a real stickler for that mike told me one time he went took it to a car show got a guide trying to steal the gas cap hey you know but very cool your soft top it was here would be under here you press this button and this opens up like this and the soft top would come out of there as you can see there’s no mechanism for

A soft top none of that’s here because the original owner did not want the weight of that which was i know you skip a couple of lunches you could have had the top i don’t know but anyway but i thought this is very clever how this whole thing goes together and it shuts like that what else can we show you let’s show you the trunk it’s gotta actually a proper trunk you

Can actually carry stuff and take things in it you know this is something i always admired about corvette is the fact that it’s practical look at that you got a full-size trunk you can get a couple of bags in there you know try that in your lamborghini or nsx your p1 mclaren there’s no room at all you know that’s the whole thing behind corvette you could use it as

A real car you can actually say honey it’s very practical look we can take trips you know you can do all that which you can’t do of course and a lot of monitor cards but look at that it’s pretty good-sized trunk and of course your spare and everything else under here interesting fact about the corvette you know it was 1952 and the cold war and spies are everywhere

And chevrolet heard that flow was going to build something called a thunderbird and they they didn’t that was it wouldn’t have something for the motorama show and of course steel is very hard to work with and it takes a lot of planning i thought why don’t we make something out of fiberglass and so they came up with the corvette 453 and that’s why because they heard

Ford was coming out with a thunderbird and they realized well we can’t do a lot that quickly let’s see we can do something in fiberglass let’s lay it out and of course you got all these curves and everything which would be hard to achieve with steel and the rest is history so it’s it’s kind of an interesting story it’s it’s kind of cool this is why i always believe

Competition makes things better you know you think what’s the other guys doing you’re so afraid you got to come up with something unbelievable to blow them out of the water and and they did it they did it i mean the 53 corvette that’s not a high-performance car but it certainly caught everybody by surprise you know a two-seater sports car wow that’s pretty cool

And then they’ll cost by 55 the 265 v8 and of course the 283 327 and of course where we are today what else can we show you i don’t know i think it’s time to go for a ride that’s the stock exhaust system that’s the way they sounded pretty cool once they got outside i read a little bit chilly so i put on my official corvette jacket go drive a corvette without a

Corvette jack you know let’s think it’s fast even by modern standards i can’t imagine what it must have been like in 1957 when you still i’d caused 30 numbers threes in 57 i love that metallic rasp me here through the exhaust with the far lemon years or original interesting it must’ve really scream these 350 boys give a nice higher acceleration stuff is a little

Bit but not much second is good for an easy 72 miles an hour you can’t imagine too many cars faster this i mean chrysler had the big 392 hemi but those are in big for forty five hundred pound cars not something his life this we think about this 1957 270 horsepower two four-barrel carburetors no tricky italian carburetors you gotta find tune nothing like that

Just dead on reliability with good old-fashioned american horsepower ok the chassis not the most sophisticated thing that would come later with the independent suspension and all that but still first honor doesn’t get much better than i just like to your 1957 my favorite year the fifties because it really got excessive after 57 i’m a cadillac with the huge fins

And 59 and the 58 corvette was not as pretty as the 57 as i said before to me this is just pure styling this was done toph trying to do his best to make a racing car and i really think he succeeded it’s really an impressive impressive piece of machinery and it was made of plastic i thought when i was a kid people going a plastic car what’s the world coming to what

Are you gonna do on a crashes they’re all gonna melt is it gonna fall i mean people are so paranoid you know the shock of the new is always it’s always amazing to me hey let me know in the comments section do you think this is prettier than the new car vets i mean does this stand out more than any new car i don’t know what do you think i mean to me i think it’s a

Really impressive design that holds up well today so i’d love to hear your comments let me know you know i mentioned earlier there’s nothing on this car that doesn’t need to be there actually there is if these scoops right here they look great but they’re not functional although to be fair they build a number of race cars where they were functional and a tube that

Ran from the scoop all the way back through the doors to the rear brake but other than that there’s nothing either scar doesn’t need to be there remember those cool little air cleaners that judge’ that was a one-year only option on 5758 they went to a big airplane like you had a most the other gm stuff so this is the first year of that or the only year of that you

Know i was seven years old when this car was built and i still remember seeing one in a magazine i never saw one in person until years later they just didn’t have them my neighborhood but it always made an impression on me in fact the same impression makes today still an amazing car to drive extremely powerful car it’s really really impressive this was a classic

Example of the best that america could do back in the day and you know something it really is true so i hope you hope you enjoy these little trip down memory lane as they say and i’m gonna go drive this thing tomorrow see you later

Transcribed from video
1957 Chevrolet Corvette – Jay Leno's Garage By Jay Leno’s Garage