Back in the early 1970’s Hot Rod magazine was looking for a project car to go racing in. What they decided to use was a 1957 Corvette with the 270hp 283ci engine and a 3 speed transmission. Once completed they tore up west drag strips en route to national ET and speed records. After it’s short racing career, nothing much was heard of this car until it showed up last weekend at Detroit Autorama sporting a fresh frame off restoration.
Chevrolet built 6,339 Corvettes for the 1957 model year. 1,621 owners received the 270hp dual quad 283 engine under the hood like the Hot Rod project car initially did. That 283 was promptly pulled and replaced with a fuel injected 283 featuring forged pistons and a “cheater” cam. Other racing tricks included a race ready aluminum Powerglide transmission and a front sway bar that was present, but not actually hooked up. Once the project was completed, John Dianna and Marv Ripes campaigned the car from August 1970 through January 1971 along the west coast. The first race for the car was the 1970 Super Nationals in Ontario, California where it won its class. Over the course of its stint with the Hot Rod staff it would go on to win again at Bakersfield in addition to claiming a runner up finish at the Winter Nationals in Pomona in early 1971. Typical quarter mile times were in the mid-twelves at 115mph. It was the first Hot Rod project car to claim elapsed time and top speed records.
After the car’s brief, but successful racing career with the Hot Rod crew, it was sold to racers Bob Tesch and Ron Costello who ran the car until 1973. At that time the drivetrain and body were separated and the car sat until 1980 when an acquaintance of current owner Craig Wood found and bought the car. After 5 years of persuasion, Wood was finally able to purchase the car from his friend in the fall of 1985. After Wood bought the well-used Corvette it sat for another 27 years until 2012 when he finally began a meticulous 1,200 hour body-off restoration. Wood performed essentially all of the work himself and was even able to reuse roughly 90% of its original chrome and stainless steel trim. Finally, on August 27th, 2013 the Hot Rod project car was driven for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Under the hood now resides a fuel injected motor very similar to the one which Dianna and Ripes ran. It features a 1960 block, 1962 fuel injection system, and 1966 heads. The current transmission is a Powerglide built to same specs as it had in the ’70’s. The body sports 8 gallons of paint in 5 different colors: Black, Persimmon, Silver Pearl, Venetian Red, and finally Gold mixed into the clear coat. Those wild pinstripes were reapplied by the same striper who applied them back in the day.
Wood plans drive the car after showing off the fruits of his labor at several of the big shows around the country this summer. He even plans to put Marv Ripes back in the car someday. Until you can see it in person enjoy our gallery of the 1957 Hot Rod Magazine project car below.