1957 Chevrolet Corvette 'Big Brake & Airbox'
$400,000 - $500,000
RM | Auctions - AUBURN FALL 29 AUGUST - 1 SEPTEMBER 2019 - Offered from the Jim Mangione Collection
- Offered from the Jim Mangione Collection
- Fuel-injected 283 cu. in. V-8
- Equipped with “Airbox” cold-air intake and “Big Brake” package
- Finished in Venetian Red with factory hardtop and painted coves
Chevrolet’s first rework of the Corvette roadster pushed the 1956 model in a far more muscular direction than the European-inspired original. Round headlights appeared to lean forward, and the new chrome-lined coves behind the rear wheels and carried into the front doors gave it additional presence. The Corvette wasn’t just about looks, either. Six-cylinder power became a thing of the past as Chevy took the new V-8 that had been optional in 1955 and made it standard for the new year.
For 1957 the V-8 grew even larger toward the beginning of the model year, expanding from 265 to 283 cubic inches of displacement, and a floor-shifted, close-ratio four-speed manual transmission was added to the options list for the first time. Racing successes such as wins at the 12-hour Sebring race and the SCCA B-production championship had made the Corvette into a proper “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” performance car, and Chevrolet began to realize that its sportiest model could also be a technological flagship. In the Corvette, Chevrolet debuted its new “Ram-Jet” mechanical fuel-injection system in two grades—a lower-compression system rated at 250 horsepower, and a high-compression setup that came in at 290 horsepower.
When it came to racing, legendary engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov’s team installed a special fiberglass intake plenum in the engine compartment that brought in cold air. The special “airbox” could only be had with the four-speed transmission and the Positraction rear end, and it brought with it a steering column–mounted, 8,000 rpm tachometer. Additionally, no radio was specified so that Chevy didn’t need to shield the ignition system and the spark plug wires could be relocated away from the exhaust manifolds.
Just 1,040 1957 Corvettes were built with fuel injection, and only 43 were ordered with the “airbox,” including this Venetian Red example fitted with a white interior, body-color coves, and a hardtop. To help bring the conservatively rated fuel-injected engine to a halt, the car is also equipped with the “Big Brake” package that added upsized, finned brake drums with metallic linings and fender-mounted cooling vents, with which only 51 cars were optioned for 1957. With its beautiful presentation and the fact that it is equipped with two of the rarest options for 1958, this car will remain a sought-after example for any discerning Corvette enthusiast.