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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.

Joel and Bill next to the restored 1957 Corvette. Original Owner Bill Howe at the Cumberland, MD SCCA race on 5/19/57.
The 1957 Corvette was a true barn find The 1957 Corvette restored to its original glory.

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.

A Regular Production 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Unit 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Unit with a Fresh Air Intake (airbox)

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.


Sources:
Middletown Journal
CorvetteForum.com

Related:
Corvette Barn Find
Barn Find: 1968 Corvette Convertible

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Dealers Take Corvette Buyers on a Virtual Test Drive

by Keith Cornett on December 16, 2007

Corvette dealerships are utilizing the advantages of broadband connections and video sharing websites to allow customers to not only see a Corvette they may be interested in purchasing, but to actually take the car on a virtual test drive. The American Sportscar Center in Atlanta, Georgia has been busy cranking out these virtual test drive videos for a select number of their Corvettes like this one for a 1959 Corvette Convertible. Not only do these videos allow the customer to see the Corvette from all angles, but the ability to actually hear the car running as well as riding shotgun on a run down the highway at 60 mph creates a memorable experience that I am sure will lead to an increase in sales.

The virtual test drive videos also serve a dual purpose as advertising for the dealership on the social video websites like YouTube.com and StreetFire.net, I am certain that we will be seeing more dealers move towards producing these video test drives in the near future.
Source: BuyaVette.net Related:
Video: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Quick Drive Technorati Tags:
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Five People in the Corvette Hobby I’d Like to Meet

by Keith Cornett on December 15, 2007

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? Related:
Corvette’s Tom Wallace Q & A
My Thoughts on Dave Hill
Vette Magazine: A Conversation with Reeves Callaway Technorati Tags:
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When a Matching Numbers Corvette is Anything But…

by Keith Cornett on December 14, 2007

1963 Split Window Coupe CorvettePart of my motivation in writing this blog is to help buyers, particularly first time Corvette buyers, learn more about the specifics of buying Corvettes before making the plunge. I do that through posts like this week’s very appropriate Decoding a Corvette’s V8 Casting Numbers and Engine Stamps as well as trying to constantly reinforce the mantra of “Knowledge is Power When Purchasing Corvettes”. Too many times buyers make the plunge first, only to find out they have been taken for a ride. To illustrate this point, I bring you this Corvette that was advertised earlier this week on a well-known classified ads website. Here are the details:

Rare 1963 split window Corvette rebuilt 327 10 over, 202 dart camel back heads, 292 cam solid lifers, rebuilt 2 speed power glide w/2800 stall converter, rebuilt 348 rear balanced drive shafts, knock off rims new red line tires, new brakes, renewed dash, original paint riverside red, black interior . many extra parts to many to list Extremely Nice, Show Ready. Matching Numbers with original colors. Original AM-FM Wonder Bar Radio. California car , Automatic Trans, Power Brakes, Power Steering. At this time it has a 1966 engine in it I have the 1964 engine ready to rebuild to make # matching car and the true knock off rims and red line tires for more info or pics Call or E-mail or $55,000.00 or make offer must see great car.
I sent the seller an email as I was confused if he meant he had the 1963 engine instead of a 1964:
Just a quick question about your 1963 Corvette for sale. You say you have a 1964 engine ready to be rebuilt to make it a matching numbers car. Did you mean it is a 1963 engine? If so, was it the original engine? Any history or documentation with the Corvette?
The seller responded back with the following:
It has a 66 engine in it now I have the block heads and casting # right not built yet never got around to it so you could get it done any way you would like or I could have my guys do it for you I just put the 66 in to drive it and to sell it easer if the buyer can drive it also here it run. call me on my cell if you want any more info but if you want a 63 you really got to see this one.
1963 Split Window Corvettes can be an excellent investment and this one is obviously well taken care of. In fact, this Corvette has awesome curb appeal that is ready for show or go. Advertised as a California car, it features comfort options like an automatic transmission, power brakes, power steering and an AM/FM Radio. The wheels are beautiful and who can resist the rebuilt drive train. But throwing around terminology like matching numbers is exactly why buyers need to be educated. When you set out to buy a house, what is the one thing you always have done before purchase? You have it inspected. Buying a classic Corvette should be no different. I do not think the seller is out to purposely misrepresent this car as he’s obviously stated in both the ad and the email that it has a 1966 engine. But stating that a 1964 engine can turn this 1963 into a matching numbers car because the casting and head numbers match is just incorrect. What often happens is that while this seller is being honest in telling us that the Corvette has a non-original motor (NOM), future owners selling this Corvette may not be so forthcoming, and that leads to the second point of the question I asked: “Any history or documentation with the Corvette?” Since there was no response to that question, I have to assume that there isn’t any. At $55,000, the car is priced appropriately for a NOM ’63 Coupe. Unless you don’t care about owning a non-documented Corvette with an NOM, then you should immediately walk away from a Corvette like this. Despite its NOM status, this Corvette is a stunner and will be sold to someone. However, it will never appreciate in value like a documented split window coupe and it will be harder to sell when that day comes. Knowledge is power… Related:
Decoding a Corvette’s V8 Casting Numbers and Engine Stamps
Seller of Fake L88 Caught by Corvette Community Technorati Tags:
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Friday’s Featured Corvettes For Sale

by Keith Cornett on December 14, 2007

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.

1960 Corvette Convertible For Sale 1967 Corvette Coupe For Sale 1974 Corvette T-Top For Sale
1960 Convertible
$55,900
1967 Coupe
Email for Price
1974 T-Top
$13,500
 
1996 Corvette Coupe For Sale 2003 Corvette Hardtop For Sale 2007 Corvette Convertible For Sale
1996 Coupe
$15,990
2003 Z06
$34,000
2007 Convertible
$49,995
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.
Source:
VetteFinders.com Related:
11/02/07: Friday’s Featured Corvettes For Sale Technorati Tags:
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Corvette Racing Will Return To ALMS GT1 in 2008

by Keith Cornett on December 13, 2007

Corvette Racing will return to the ALMS in 2008Whew! 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. Related:
Corvettes to Compete in ALMS GT2 Class in 2008 Technorati Tags:
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Corvette’s 2008 Indy Pace Car Unveiling Date Set

by Keith Cornett on December 12, 2007

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. Related:
Corvette Z06 Chosen to Pace 50th Daytona 500 in 2008 Technorati Tags:
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Decoding a Corvette’s V8 Casting Numbers and Engine Stamps

by Keith Cornett on December 11, 2007

Back in September I wrote about how documentation was the must-have option when buying a classic Corvette. That article focused on mostly the paper trail: dealer invoices, build sheets and tank stickers. Today the focus is on the engine and the clues available for verifying authenticity. While the term “Matching Numbers” in its simplist form is various serial numbers and codes located on key parts and their relationship to a particular year of Corvette, it’s the engine block that is the most important part of the matching numbers equation. Unfortunately, as Corvette values rise, so do your chances of buying a Corvette with altered numbers being passed off as an original. As my favorite mantra goes when purchasing a Corvette, knowledge is power, and the more you can learn about documenting a Corvette prior to purchase, the less likely you will get burned with buying a Corvette of questionable lineage.

A series of codes and stamps are located on the engine block that will allow you to identify it as being manufactured specifically for a Corvette. There are dates of manufacture and the engine’s original application if you just know where to look. As the year’s progressed and engine options increased, the numbering and casting system obviously changed and became more specific. For the examples provided, I will be referring to the 327 ci 300 hp small block V8 in my 1966 Corvette.

Chevrolet Smallblock V8 Casting number and engine stamping locations 1966 Corvette 327 ci V8 Engine Casting Number 1966 Corvette 327 ci V8 Engine Stamp

Casting Numbers
The casting number is a sequence consisting of raised numbers that was cast into the engine block when it was made. What’s a bit tricky here is that casting numbers on Corvette blocks can also be found on other engine blocks made by GM. Casting Numbers are important to the engine documentation process because certain numbers were used for Corvettes and some were not. Also, the numbers are specific to the size of engine in the Corvette. 283′s, 327′s and 427′s all had their own casting numbers specific to individual years, so for the process of documenting a Corvette engine, the casting number will be used to confirm that that block was used in a Corvette and that it was available during the same year the Corvette was manufactured, and finally, it was unique to a specific engine size. The casting number on Chevy V8′s is located on the drivers side of the engine where the block is connected to the bellhousing. It can be a bit hard to see with the ignition shielding in place but the numbers are fairly large. The casting number on my 1966 is 3858174 which is identified as a 327 ci V8 block. That block casting number was also used in 1964-67 passenger cars including the Chevelle and Camaro as well as Chevrolet trucks.

Casting Dates
The cast date symbolizes the date of manufacture of the block. Dates are coded beginning with a letter representing the month. Letters began with “A” for January through “L” for December. The next section of digits represents the day of the month and is either 1 or 2 digits in length. The final single digit represents the year. Corvette casting dates only show the single digit for the year. If the block contains two digits for the year, then it was a block manufactured at the Tonawanda engine plant and therefore is not a Corvette block (Corvette engines were almost exclusively built in Flint, Michigan). Cast dates on small block V8′s can be found on the passenger side of flange where the block is connected to the bellhousing. I found this number difficult to locate. On 1965-67 big blocks, the cast date is located on the passenger side of the block where the starter is attached. The cast date on the block in my 1966 is “E 5 6″, which decoded stands for May 5, 1966. If you are trying to document an engine, the casting number would confirm the size of the engine and its intended recipient, and the date code would confirm that the block was used in Corvettes.

Engine Stamping
Engine stampings evolved in the early years of the Chevrolet V8 engine. In 1955-56, it was simply a continuous serial number, but one that didn’t match the serial number of the Corvette. It was then followed with F for Flint, where the Corvette engine was manufactured and then the year (F55 or F56). The final two letters indicated the original application of the engine. Application Codes usually indicated engine size, type of fuel delivery (Injection or carburetion) and transmission. As engine options grew, so did the number of application suffix codes. In 1957, the serial number was dropped and instead the stamp contained the letter F for Flint, a three to four number sequence for month and day of assembly and then the two letter engine suffix code. Beginning in 1960 the stamp included the serial number of the car it was installed in. The 327 engine in my Corvette contains the following number sequences: 6122891 F0518HE. Decoded, the first sequence is 6 for the year (66) and then the VIN sequence of 122891. The second stamp decodes F for the Flint Plant, May 18 is the engine assembly date and the HE suffix code stands for a 327 ci 300 hp with a manual transmission.

So there you have the basics of decoding engine numbers for the purpose of documentation. Please note that there are some exceptions to the information contained above. In 1965 it is said that there was a shortage of 327 blocks from the Flint plant, so Chevrolet used some engine blocks from Tonawanda. Those engines would have a T instead of F on the stamp, as well as the full year in the cast date. There are several publications that contain a breakdown of engine codes and sequences. The NCRS also provides a publication that details how engines were stamped and therefore, may help you identify restamped engines.

Related:
The Must-Have Option When Buying A Classic Corvette
Five Factors That Drive Corvette Values – Options

 

November 2008 Corvette Sales; 2008 Corvette Price Increase

by Keith Cornett on December 7, 2007

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%.

Month Calendar Year-to-Date
Month 2007 2006 % Change Months 2007 2006 % Change
January 2,234 2,579 -16.8% Jan-Jan 2,234 2,579 -16.8%
February 2,784 3,058 -9.0% Jan-Feb 5,018 5,637 -11.0%
March 3,158 3,655 -16.7% Jan-Mar 8,176 9,292 -12.0%
April 3,227 3,516 -0.6% Jan-Apr 11,403 12,808 -11.0%
May 3,300 3,317 -4.3% Jan-May 14,703 16,125 -8.8%
June 3,055 2,938 0.1% Jan-Jun 17,758 19,063 -6.8%
July 2,377 2,794 -11.4% Jan-Jul 20,135 21,857 -7.9%
August 2,877 2,990 -3.8% Jan-Aug 23,012 24,842 -7.4%
September 2,837 3,056 -3.5% Jan-Sept 25,849 27,903 -7.4%
October 2,484 2,761 -13.5% Jan-Oct 28,333 30,664 -7.6%
November 2,438 2,773 -12.1% Jan-Nov 30,771 33,437 -8.0%
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.
Source:
General Motors Related:
October 2008 Corvette Sales
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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.

Click to view the 2009 Corvette ZR-1
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!
Source:
Corvette Quarterly Related:
Video: Corvette ZR1 at Monterey’s Laguna Seca
More Corvette ZR-1 Video from Laguna Seca
Corvette ZR1 Video: Manual Transmission and Other Observations
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