Introduced in 1953 as GM’s venture into the emerging sports car market, the Chevrolet Corvette almost got canned after only a couple of years due to an anemic inline-six mated to a two-speed automatic and build quality issues. Thankfully, Zora-Arkus Duntov’s push for an optional V8 and a three-speed manual, both launched in 1955, gave the ‘Vette an unexpected lifeline.
Sales weren’t all that great at 700 units delivered in 1955. Still, the stylish facelift of 1956 and the fact that the small-block V8 became standard drew more sports car enthusiasts to showrooms. One year later, Chevrolet also gave the Corvette a fuel injection system, turning it into an actual performance car. Sales jumped to more than 6,000 in 1957, prompting GM to keep the nameplate in production.
Come 2023 and the 1953 and 1955 Corvette live on as the rarest iterations of the sports car. But the 1957 variant is just as desirable because it’s the first-year ‘Vette with fuel injection. The optional Rochester system made it on only 1,040 cars, so it’s quite rare too. How many of them are still around? It remains a mystery without a detailed registry, but “fuelie” cars occasionally pop out of barns. The black example you see here may be one of them.
A derelict example that likely spent a few decades off the road, this 1957 ‘Vette is missing a few components and needs much work to run and drive again. The ad doesn’t offer many details and promotes a “what you see is exactly what you get” kind of deal, but the seller claims it’s a desirable “fuelie” version.
Unfortunately, things are a bit confusing under the hood. While the intake manifold suggests the existence of a fuel injection system, the bits around it look too clean to be original. Especially when compared to other components in the lower section of the engine bay. Granted, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a fake “fuelie.” One previous owner may have operated some updates to the original mill. But we’ll never know for sure, which isn’t surprising when it comes to cars with several owners.
The fenders’ specific “fuel injection” script is also missing, and the seller says, “No extra parts are included.” Not exactly encouraging, right? And before you ask about the trim tag, the Corvette didn’t get one until 1963. This 1957 ‘Vette is a bit of a mystery that requires further investigation.
But hey, if it’s indeed a “fuelie,” it’s definitely a rare gem, especially if we break it down to colors. There’s no specific info on how many “fuelies” were ordered in Onyx Black, but we know that the hue was applied to 2,189 cars. Given that only 16.4% of 1957 Corvettes got the “fuelie” option, it’s safe to say that fewer than 400 left the factory dressed in black.
Powertrain mystery aside, the Corvette is in solid condition if we ignore the missing parts. The frame doesn’t show severe rust damage, and most body panels are still straight. The interior needs a complete makeover, but it’s doable. The blue hardtop is yet another strange item coming with this car. I don’t remember seeing this color combo before, and I’m pretty sure black cars were fitted with matching tops. Is this a special dealer option, or is the hardtop from another vehicle?