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Sleeping Fuelie: 1957 Corvette

Sometimes the most out of the ordinary vehicles show up at car dealers.  Take for example this neat little 1957 Corvette sitting in the delivery garage at Uftring Chevrolet in Washington, Illinois.  Being sold on eBay, this Corvette is said to be one of three cars handled from an estate sale.  While the car looks great in pictures, twenty years of sitting in storage have taken their toll on this historic sports car.  Can you get a good deal buying a car like this from a new car dealership?  Is this a Corvette worth pursuing considering bidding is at $35,100 and climbing?  Was it factory equipped with fuel injection?

The story on this Corvette is that it has been sitting for at least twenty years.  Once the dealership ended up with the car, they put a veteran technician (mechanic) on getting everything working again.  It currently runs, stops, and even steers.  Sadly, the engine in the car presently is a 1970 vintage 350 cubic inch small block.  The car has the badges designating it as a fuel injected car, but they have no idea if it was a real fuelie car.  I’d be appreciative of any discussions by our resident Corvette experts on just how to tell.

As it sits, the car really looks pretty good.  Looking closer, there are a number of chips and imperfections in the paint.  The good news is that everything seems to be there except for the engine.  The silver body with black coves is an especially attractive color combination.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this was a factory option for 1957.  You could order a black car with silver coves, but black coves were never offered in any color.  Equipped with a hard top, there is no mention made of a soft top being under the tonneau cover.

The interior looks pretty good.  The red upholstery contrasts well with the black dash.  There is some wear on the steering wheel, and the black dash has the look of a rattle can paint job in some of the other pictures.  The car is equipped with a four speed transmission, and the plate on the transmission hump designates this as well.  The question is whether or not the four speed is original to the car or it was replaced along with the engine.  The shifter looks like an aftermarket piece.  The shape is off and shift knobs were either chrome or white plastic in 1957.

One area that will need either replacement or a good upholstery shop is the door panels.  What you see here is the driver’s side panel.  There are cracks in the door pull area, and the upper section looks to be crumbling.  The passenger’s side panel, on the other hand, is definitely disintegrating.  Replacement panels can be purchased, but expect to spend a fair amount for good ones.

Under the hood is that 1970 small block Chevy we spoke of previously.  While experts could probably tell quickly that this is a later block, the average car show attendee would likely never know the difference.  The generator is still there for them to see and associate with a car of this vintage.  The one thing that is conspicuously missing is the fuel injection unit.  That is, if this was a fuel injected car at some point.  Badges could have been added at a later date.  However, the strong possibility that this was a four speed car makes it more likely that the car might be very special indeed.

Here is one part of the car that confused me.  This is an assigned identification plate from the state of Illinois.  The stamping of what I am assuming to be the VIN number looks to be a more modern font.  Corvette identification plates were attached with rivets for the longest time, and they changed locations many times before the lower driver’s side plate became the standard.  Was this a built up car that was eventually assigned a new identification tag by the great state of Illinois?  Is this because the examiner couldn’t find the VIN number in the places it is supposed to be?  Once again, any reader help on this tag would be appreciated.

Going by the fact that there have been 55 bids on this car already, my guess is that a few Corvette experts have already taken a trip to Illinois to look this car over.  If the car was factory equipped with fuel injection and there is no confusion with the car’s heritage, then I’d expect the bidding to keep going up and up.  It seems a shame that the car is so valuable.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get this car completely road ready and drive the wheels off of it without having to worry about theft or other maladies?

Is it a real fuelie?  How much do you think the final bid will be?  What would you do with it?


  1. Hutch

    That is not original VIN tag and that’s a huge red flag. BTW all C1 Corvettes used self tap Phillips screws to hold the VIN on, not rivets There are several ways to tell if it was originally a fuel injection car (throttle linkage is round tubular not flat, coil, resistor, comes to mind) by many of the parts but unfortunately those are also easily removed/replaced also. Lots of counterfeit fuel 57s out there. But….any C1 in most any condition is worth $35k. Problem is, even if it is a real fuel car without the original motor air cleaner, etc , if it’s a real fuel car top price will be about$50k. Real fuel $100-$150k

    Like 5
  2. gbvette62

    The VIN on the State issued tag, appears to be a 57 Corvette VIN, so this car is likely a theft recovery. The first thing a thief usually did was get rid of the VIN tag, so recovered stolen cars usually ended up with State issued VIN’s, to register them again. Unfortunately, it’s pretty common with old Corvettes, and has a significant effect on their value.

    I doubt that this car originally was a fuelie. The position of the “Fuel Injection” script looks too low, in relation to the flags, and too close to the flags, leading me to believe they were added later.

    As mentioned, black was never offered as a cove color, 57 coves were available painted Inca Silver, Adobe Beige and Imperial Ivory. An Inca Silver car ordered with contrasting coves, would have the coves painted Ivory. A silver car would also have a silver dash top, not black, in fact there would be no black in the interior of a silver car. A silver car with red interior, would have a silver dash top, and an ivory lower dash, an ivory steering column, and door panels that were all red. The shifter in this car is clearly a Hurst aftermarket piece.

    I suspect the bidding on this car reflects it’s value as a basis for a resto-mod project, where the State issued VIN won’t effect the value.

    Like 12
  3. DRV

    There should be a vin number on top of the frame under the seat and it should match the plate even though the plate is replaced.
    There is no way to tell if it was ever a FI car even if all numbers matched less documentation from new .
    Silver had an ivory insert if ordered.
    This might be a problem car in certain states to transfer the title.

    Like 1
  4. Angrymike

    Such a beautiful car, my second favorite year, after the 63-67 coupes ! I would absolutely love to have this in my garage, girlie or not.

    Like 2
  5. ruxvette

    A nice car, but…I don’t think Inca Silver was it’s born with color. Perhaps Venetian Red is. The interior is, as gbvette says, kind of a mess. There were about 1050 F.I. cars made in ’57 of which 3500 are still on the road ;) and I don’t think this is one of them.
    Having said that, it’s a driver. Probably a $50k driver, but a driver none the less.

    Like 3
    • moosie moosie

      Just like the ’67 427-435 cars, more on the road, or in collections today then the General ever produced, SMH.

      Like 0
  6. John B.

    Some people say there were 240 fuel injected Corvettes made in 1957, others say 1040; reguardless of which you believe there are more now than were originally made. If you have enough money you can fake just about anything. I owned a ‘57 in 1985-even then it was next to impossible to find many Corvettes with the original engine. Today with restamped blocks and reproduction tags anything is possible; it would be refreshing to see a ‘57 that the seller claims is a “plain Jane” nothing special car! All that said this car looks like it would be a nice driver but no doubt big bucks bidders will escalate the price until us car guys can’t hope to purchase it!!

    Like 3
  7. TimM

    Great refined design after the earlier Vetts!!! Would love this car!! Get in and drive!! It should be interesting what it brings!!

    Like 2
  8. Tort Member

    Owned a very nice one back in the sixties. Got married, sold it and after a short time my wife and I knew we made a mistake but couldn’t buy it back. After all the years of owning many nice classics and still do the 57 was my favorite. The small front and rear bumpers in my opinion were so much cleaner than the three following years.

    Like 1
  9. Mountainwoodie

    ummmm……..what are these really worth with wrong engine and incorrect colors?

    Tucker “Convertible” money?

    Like 1
  10. moosie moosie

    Wasn’t ’57 the first year for a 4 speed transmission, and then only in the latter part of the year ? Also , on the earlier Corvettes, C1’s, wasn’t the VIN. tag on the steering column under the hood ? This particular car would make a super occasional driver with a bit of spiffing up if you can buy it right

    Like 0
  11. DRV

    A few years later the column tag was added and as on my 58 door jam the tag was screwed on with Philips head. Your right about a driver if cheap.

    Like 0
  12. Rich

    Well, if the car’s serial number is indeed the same as the factory issued one, this car was right in front of mine coming down the line. The car definitely was red under the silver, but who knows if that is the original paint underneath. Could it have been a fuelie? Maybe, but I also doubt it. Serial number is late enough that it could have been an original 4-speed car. Could be a decent driver for the right price, but I’d have to see pics of the underside.

    Like 1
  13. Walter

    With a bit of digging, there should still exist the reason for the public safety assigned VIN on file. That would shed light on the reasoning behind it’s issuance. Depending on how long ago the request was made, it might be a “hand search” situation which would make obtaining it harder without the right connections. The N.IC.B. Data files should cover it, if it was in fact a stolen recovery.

    Like 0
  14. James R.

    A northern California chapter NCRS guy was visiting the Corvette shop in central California. The shop had a 1957 supposed fuel car in the shop. The hood was closed, and the NCRS guy had never seen this car in his life. He had his hands in his pockets; he didn’t touch the car. When he got to the right side rear wheel opening, he leaned way over, and declared “This isn’t a fuel car!!” His name was Wilson Swilley, and in 1957 the fuel line on an FI car runs in a different position along the frame from a non-fuel car. This guy didn’t even have to look under the hood, to know this “fuel car” was BOGUS!! Furthermore, the FI unit under the hood was a ’59. Someone knowledgeable should check out the fuel line on this car, so we can ALL know if this car is BOGUS!! Would be a nice thing to know.
    P.S. This Corvette shop did the body restoration on Noland Adams’ 1953 car # 284. I did the complete seat resoration, using Walt Zorn’s Wildfire Industries Alltrue Reproduction correct seat covers. This was a long time ago.

    Like 2
  15. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended: Jul 02, 2019 , 10:17AM
    Current bid:US $39,600.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 71 bids ]

    Like 0

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