Uncovering the Secrets of a Rare 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Pilot Build – a Must-read for Car Enthusiasts!
This article appeared in the September 2007 issue of Vette Vues Magazine in its coverage of the Bloomington Gold Corvette show.
1957 Corvette Serial Number 0162 283/283 FI Pilot Production 579B.
Owned by (In 2007): Corvette Historian Ken Kayser
This 1957 Corvette #162 was one of approximately twelve “pilot” RPO-579 fuel injection Corvettes assembled at the St. Louis Corvette plant in the first two weeks of October 1957. The purpose of a pilot build event is to evaluate the ability of the people, parts, and assembly process to perform the work in the time allowed with satisfactory quality. The pilot fuel injection units built at St. Louis revealed several problems that were corrected prior to the regular start of RPO 579 production on November 1st, 1956.
This pilot car is still in its as-built configuration. The RPO-579 Corvettes required a modified 1956 ignition harness to solve one of the problems encountered. The special bracket and toggle switch to enable a hot engine restart are under the dash below the ignition switch. The AC 8,000.
RPM tachometer is driven from the generator, and the dash emblem is the original one-off Shoreline Beige versus the normal Polo White background.
Corvette #162 was originally built with an unusual combination of three options; the RPO 579B 283 HP V-8 with a three-speed Close-ratio transmission, the RPO-581 heavy-duty suspension and special heavy-duty 3:55 ratio, and the California hard-top only, offered in response to a request from the California Chevrolet dealer zone office.
This Corvette was one of two pilot Corvettes shipped to the Chevrolet South Gate, CA, assembly plant. The Corvette was used by plant manager Harry H. Pritchard as his company car for 3,000 miles and was sold in December 1956 to a friend and SCCA member in Culver City. The second Corvette was a white 250 HP Powerglide car assigned to the South Gate plant’s Resident engineering manager.
Mr. Kayser purchased the car from the fifth owner in 1975. Shortly thereafter, as general knowledge of the 1957 fuel-injected Corvette became known in the hobby, the differences became obvious. Mr. Kayser has worked for Chevrolet and now GM Powertrain since 1968 and has researched and successfully documented the pilot versus production fuel injection differences.
There are many rare special parts on this 1957 Corvette. For example, the fuel meter is the fourth one ever produced, serial number 1004, and the second oldest known to exist!
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