Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
In 1953, Chevrolet took a chance and introduced an all-American, two-seater sports car to compete with British and European makers that had a rich tradition in this small but very prestigious market segment. The resulting fiberglass roadster, powered by a six-cylinder engine, made a surprisingly weak entrance onto the sports-car scene. The first generation Corvette was underpowered, underperforming and lagged behind in sales.
While the lackluster Corvettes of 1953-1954 were more suited to stylish cruising, a performance boost quickly followed thanks to Zora Arkus-Duntov, who skillfully guided the Corvette’s transformation into “America’s Sports Car.” The addition of the powerful, compact small-block V-8 engine in 1955 was a welcome first step in the process, while a major exterior restyling for 1956 provided a much-needed kick on the showroom floor.
Although the Corvette remained virtually identical in appearance to the prior model, the big news for 1957 came in the form of the enlarged 283-cubic inch small block V-8 engine, destined to become a performance icon. The highest specification benefited from a Rochester mechanical fuel-injection unit, a compression increase and a high-lift mechanical camshaft, good for 283 horsepower. As a result, the 1957 Corvette famously became the first American production car to develop one horsepower per cubic inch of displacement.
Cars shown were auctioned off by RM Auctions in: January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona; August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California; November of 2010 at the Robson Estate, Gainesville, Georgia; January of 2011 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona; March of 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida; July of 2011 at The Inn at St. John's, Plymouth, Michigan; March of 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida; for Charlie Thomas in October of 2012 and for the John Staluppi event in December 2012.
283 bhp, 283 cu. in. V-8 engine with Rochester mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102".
Source: RM Auctions and Mecum Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel; Aaron Summerfield; Teddy Pieper