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Classic 1957 Corvette That Can Keep Up With The Best of Them

Published June 11, 2016

The advent of the Internet has made looking for amazing deals much easier than ever before. This especially applies to cars. However, it takes a lot of time and patience and it helps if you know where to look. This is especially the case when you are dealing with used cars whether they be complete vehicles for daily use or project cars.

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Dave and Sue of Lockport New York are what you would call experts in the area of custom cars and hot rods. Between 1953 and 2013, they have built, owned and raced over 30 Corvettes.

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A few years ago looking online, they came across a 1957 Corvette project car that caught their eye. They had a 1966 big block coupe in the garage that was just sitting. Inspired, they called the seller and offered up a swap. With both the buyer and seller trailering their respective trades to a predefined meeting place, the swap took place after each party scrutinized their next project.

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Like many of us, Dave was first bit by the automotive bug as a child. By the time he was sixteen, he was ‘borrowing’ his dad’s 1957 Plymouth for quick jaunts to a local drag strip close by. His frequent ‘secret’ trips as a teenager led to a 20-year career drag racing. He first started in the early 60s campaigning a 1966 Corvette in the E/SP class. Over time, he moved up in classes and speed as a result of his constant attention towards improving his reflexes. Dave eventually would up fielding a B/Econo dragster he would run in the 7s at over 170 miles per hour. With racing out of his system, he moved to building hot rods with Sue as a career.

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With the car back home, Dave took his time figuring out next steps. He wanted something that would signify his many years spent racing. Retaining the car’s classic styling was also important. With an idea in mind, he set off on his project.

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Like most intensive projects, the build started with the frame. He opted for a new chassis that was reinforced to withstand the rigors of racing should the opportunity ever arise. The chassis he went with had frame rails made of 10-gauge sheet steel. It fits everything perfectly and has tubular crossmembers for added strength.

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The original 1957 rearend was stuffed with 3.36:1 gears and held in place with a triangulated four-bar suspension combined with Aldan American coilover shocks and a heavy duty roll bar. Up front, there is an independent front suspension from Progressive using Heidts 2-inch drop spindles. Aldan American adjustable coilover shocks and heavy-duty sway bar complete the job.

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Stopping power comes from 11-inch drilled and vented discs being fed by a CPP dual master cylinder. Four-piston calipers mounted on each corner do the work. Wheels are 18×7 Billet Specialties Legacy wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber.

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With the foundation of the car completed, it was time to address the engine. As would be expected, Dave went for speed.   A 1971 400 cubic inch block was stuffed with a forged steel crank driving a set of TRW forged aluminum pistons. The block was topped with a pair of World Products Sportsman II cast iron cylinder heads housing a pair of COMP cams. Capping the engine is an Edelbrock dual-quad intake manifold wearing a pair a 500-cfm carbs. Gases are moved to the back of the Corvette through a custom 2 ½ inch stainless steel exhaust system. Power is converted to forward motion with a Hughes Performance Powerglide transmission.

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With the engine, chassis and suspension complete, it was time to bring the rest of the car up to par. With the body pretty smooth to begin with, most of the prep time was spent making everything perfectly straight rather than repairing rust holes and old accident damage. Next up was to apply a PPG Venetian Red paint with a classic ivory gloss to the coves. With the body complete, reassembly was able to commence.

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Dave wanted to retain the interior looks that the car left the factory with a few personal touches thrown in for good measure. In addition to wrapping the seats with high quality red leather, the seats were lowered three inches. Door panels were made to match the seats in material and pattern. With the addition of a black convertible top, the project was complete.

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The result is a classic 1957 Corvette that has the performance capabilities to keep up the best of them.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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