Three years ago car restorers Bill Connell and Joel Lauman got a lead on a rare 1957 Corvette that was parked inside a barn on a pig farm outside of Trenton, Ohio. The two were familiar with the history of the car and its original owner Bill Howe, a local car dealer who raced the car in 1957. While Connell was convinced that this car was a true airbox Corvette, it wasn’t until they were able to make the deal and bring the partially disassembled car back to the shop where upon further inspection it turned out to be the first airbox Corvette produced by Chevrolet.
Before we get into the details of what makes an airbox Corvette so rare, let’s go back to 1957 when small town Chevy dealer Bill Howe first got the Corvette. The story goes that Bill and a friend flew from Ohio to the Corvette factory in St. Louis where they picked it up on May 16, 1957. They then drove the car straight though back to Middletown, Ohio. They stopped for a couple of hours of sleep and then they drove through the night to Cumberland, Maryland where they arrived just in time to compete in an amateur SCCA event against some of the best known racers of the day. In the end, Bill Howe and his number “4007″ Corvette came in third place.
Fast forward to present time. As Bill and Joel began work on the Corvette, they brought in noted Corvette historian and Chevy V8 fuel-injection expert Ken Kayser who spent two days researching the Corvette, upon which he proclaimed that the 1957 Corvette was indeed an original airbox Corvette and more importantly, was the pilot car from which only 43 were produced.
So what is an airbox Corvette? I had never heard the term before so I posed my question to the Corvette Forum’s C1-C2 section where the resident expert on airbox Corvettes “DZAUTO” schooled me on the following:
ALL fuel injected 57 Vettes have an air cleaner attached directly to the air meter. Fuel injection units do not like heat, and all of the 57 FI engines (except 43) drew in hot air coming directly from the HOT engine compartment. The 43 Fuel Injected cars which were built with an “Airbox” in 1957 had a somewhat crude, practically hand laid up, fiberglass duct work attached to the left inner fender and a hole was cut into the left side of the radiator support to allow air into the duct work. All of these 43 cars were built with heavy duty everything (translate factory built race car), brakes, suspension, special steering, NO radio, NO heater, wide wheels, tachometer mounted (clamped) on the steering column, fuel injection, HD shocks and that about covers it. Somewhere along the line, the term “Airbox” was tagged to these 43 cars, and it stuck.
Restoring the 1957 Corvette to its original glory took over two years and more than 1,500 hours. Fifty years and five months after Bill Howe took delivery of number “4007″, the Corvette was completed. As with most freshly restored classic Corvettes, the 4007 1957 Corvette will make an appearance at an NCRS show to be judged and Corvette Forum member “66rag427″ mentioned in the airbox post that the 1957 Corvette is expected to be judged next month in Dayton, Ohio. He’s promised photos so we’ll see how well it scores when he reports back.
Finally, there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the airbox option. For many years the option was know as RPO 579E and in fact The Corvette Black Book shows that 43 Corvettes had the 283 ci FI engine option at an additonal cost of $726.30. However in Ken Kayser’s book entitled The History of GM’s Ramjet Fuel Injection on the Chevrolet V-8 and its Corvette Racing Pedigree he states that the real airbox option was actually 579D, an RPO not listed in the Black Book. Corvette Forum’s DZAUTO has read Kayser’s book and says the author seems to have a pretty convincing argument based on the research of GM’s archives on the subject.
Regardless of the airbox option’s RPO codes and how many may have been produced, what’s worth remembering about this story is the fact that an ultra rare Corvette with a unique racing history was found partially disassembled in a barn and was brought back to life by two guys with a passion for both Corvettes and local automotive history. For more on this fantastic barn find, click here to view a video complete with historical footage of that SCCA race on May 19, 1957.
Find: 1968 Corvette Convertible
Corvette | Vette
| 1957 | Fuelie
| Fuel Injection
| Airbox |
I saw a post on an unrelated blog about the author’s desire to meet five people that he found interesting. That led me to wonder about the five people I’d like to meet in person, but I also decided to narrow my list down to specifically people within the Corvette community. This is probably the first of two posts, the second being those Corvette legends that have already passed. However I digress. Each of these gentleman is destined for the National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame, and two of the members on this list have already achieved that distinction.
My list of five people in the Corvette hobby I’d like to meet in no particular order:
1. Noland Adams
Noland knows more about classic Corvettes than you can shake a powerglide at. He hold’s NCRS membership #4 and he founded the Solid Axle Corvette Club. While leading the NCRS back in the seventies, he was responsible for bringing the midyear Corvettes into the NCRS fold, a controversial decision back then but one that has since come to define how new Corvettes are added to judging each year. Noland was inducted into the NCM Corvette Hall of Fame in 2003.
2. Tom Wallace
Wouldn’t you love to know what Tom Wallace knows about the future direction of the Corvette? We are in very exciting times right now and meeting the man in charge would be an awesome thrill.
3. Dave Hill
I always admired the way Dave Hill appeared to relate to the average Corvette owner. He always seems to have a genuine interest in what owners said and felt about his Corvette, the C5. In fact, my impression of Dave Hill is that he would be a great person to kick back and have a few beers with while listening to stories of what the folks in the Corvette program had to overcome in the nineties to build the C5 Corvette. Dave was inducted into the NCM Corvette Hall of Fame in 2006.
4. Mike Antonick
Mike is the only guy on this list that I have no idea what he looks like. But every year I pluck down my $15 bucks for a new copy of his Corvette Black Book and every year it is just about the best money spent when it comes to Corvette publications. When heading off to a Corvette show, his Black Book is always along for the ride. A person new to the Corvette hobby could damn near become an expert if he could commit those pages to memory.
5. Reeves Callaway
I can sum up Reeve’s contribution to Corvette (and wannabe tuners) in just 2 words. Well, one word: Sledgehammer! and one RPO code… B2K!
So there you have my list of five people in the Corvette hobby I’d like to meet in person. Any comments regarding my list? Who is a living Corvette personality you would most like to meet?
Corvette’s Tom Wallace Q & A
My Thoughts on Dave Hill
Vette Magazine: A Conversation with Reeves Callaway
If you are looking to make a deal on a new or classic Corvette before the holidays. this is probably the last week to do it. Below we are featuring six of the over 500 Corvettes available at our classified ads website, www.VetteFinders.com.
Selling Your Corvette? Now is the time and VetteFinders.com is the place to reach more qualified Corvette Buyers. Corvette Classified Ads
are only $25 and run for 3 months. You can post unlimited photos and you have access to make any changes at any time.
11/02/07: Friday’s Featured Corvettes For Sale
Whew! Corvette Racing announced that they will be returning both factory backed GT1 Corvette C6.R’s to the American Le Mans Series in 2008. In addition to the ALMS 12 race series, the team will be competing at the 24 hours of Le Mans. Since the team returned to the track in 1999, they’ve won seven consecutive GT1 Manufacturers and Team Championships, plus six straight Drivers championships in the ALMS. Corvette Racing currently owns the ALMS record for class victories at 57, plus 40 1-2 finishes.
“Corvette Racing was conceived as a long-term program to showcase the performance, technology, and value of Chevrolet’s world-class sports car,” said Mark Kent, director of GM Racing. “Since the team’s competition debut in 1999, Corvette Racing’s success in top-tier road racing has produced a strong return on our investment, paying dividends in marketing, engineering, technology transfer, personnel development and other areas of our business. Corvette is now a performance icon that’s recognized around the world, and Corvette Racing’s continued participation in the ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be an important element in the global celebration of GM’s 100th anniversary in 2008.”
“Our decision to compete in all 12 rounds of the ALMS schedule in 2008 reflects our commitment to our sponsors, our suppliers, and to Corvette enthusiasts worldwide,” said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. “There is a reason why thousands of Corvette owners attend Corvette Corrals at ALMS events and why the autograph line at Corvette Racing is the longest in the ALMS paddock: Racing is an integral part of Corvette’s history and heritage, and we are continuing that tradition.”
“Experience teaches us that motorsports is cyclical, and the GT1 category is currently in transition,” Wesoloski observed. “Would we like to see more competition in GT1 in the ALMS? Absolutely! But in the absence of season-long competition, we are absolutely committed to controlling our own destiny. We are pushing hard to develop our chassis and powertrain, to refine our race strategy, and to continuously improve every element of the program. We know that the competition at Le Mans will be intense, and we will use the ALMS series to hone the race cars, the drivers, and the team to prepare for it.”
Corvette Racing will be testing two new Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars in February. The 12 race series kicks off March 15th at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Corvettes to Compete in ALMS GT2 Class in 2008
The Corvette has been chosen yet again to pace the world’s greatest race, the Indianapolis 500. On December 27th the curtain will be raised on the 2008 design and you can be there as part of a National Corvette Museum fundraiser. The NCM was given 19 tickets to the event and they are being sold for $100 each. The ticket admits you to the Indiana Convention Center/RCA Dome in Indianapolis to witness the unveiling of the newest Corvette pace car. The event also includes a Chevrolet Exhibit with displays of a Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, a Camaro Convertible and of course the 2008 Indianapolis Pace Car. There is also mention of a surprise display called the Flying Corvette. We will have to wait and see what that is all about. Finally lunch will be provided to participants in the ballroom, which is your chance to “mix and mingle” with representatives from GM and Chevrolet.
Tickets to the event can be reserved at the National Corvette Museum’s website. Click here for details.
Corvette Z06 Chosen to Pace 50th Daytona 500 in 2008
Indianapolis 500 |
Pace Car |
General Motors released the Corvette sales figures for November 2008. Production over the last couple of months has averaged around 2,450 which is about 300 units less than 2006. Total calendar sales (January through November) just broke the 3,000 mark at 30,771. Production in 2007 continues to lag last year’s production by 8%.
On a related note, both Corvette Conti
and the Corvette Blog
have reported a slight increase in 2008 Corvette prices. Coupes and Convertibles are going up by $115 bringing the prices to $46,225 and $54,565 respectively. A destination charge of $825 is included in these figures.
October 2008 Corvette Sales
Back in October when the new 2009 Corvette ZR-1 was let off its chain for a couple of hot laps around Monterey’s Laguna Seca raceway, we were able to see the copilot holding what appeared to be a video camera. Now the good folks at Corvette Quarterly, the official publication of Corvette, has uploaded the video so that you too can experience the estimated 650 ponies from the new supercharged LS-9.
Damn, that car is fast. From the beginning, Corvette Racing’s Johnny O’Connell gets on it and doesn’t let go until the end. Thanks, Corvette Quarterly! That was fun!
Video: Corvette ZR1 at Monterey’s Laguna Seca
More Corvette ZR-1 Video from Laguna Seca
Corvette ZR1 Video: Manual Transmission and Other Observations