Fantastic Fuelie

When it comes to C1s, this fuel-injected ’57 is as original as they come.

December 1, 2009

Also from Issue 53

  • 2010 Grand Sport first drive
  • 731-bhp LMR Z06
  • Best buys for $20K
  • 1967 big-block coupe
  • LS7-powered 1963 restomod
  • Profile: David Burroughs
  • 1973 East Coast custom
  • Racing: ALMS GT2-class debut
  • How To: C3 control arms
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Back in 1957, $484.20 was about one month’s salary for the average American. It also represented the cost of Corvette option 579B, a high-horsepower fuel-injected 283-cubic-inch V8 engine. That relatively high price tag goes a long way in explaining why a mere 713 buyers chose to add the fuelie powerplant to their new Corvette.

However, those who did ante up got their money’s worth and then some, because 1957 Corvettes with the 283-horsepower fuel-injected engine were among the fastest production cars of the era. Equipped with an optional 4-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential with a 4.11:1 final drive ratio, a ’57 fuelie could reach 60 mph from a standing start in 5.7 seconds, turn a quarter mile in 14.3 seconds and top out at over 130 mph.

A significant number of ’57 fuelies ended up on the racetrack, and their successes were notable, including a class win in the 12 Hours of Sebring and an SCCA B-Production national championship. Nearly all of the rest were used and abused on the street, racking up the miles and suffering accidents, theft and all the other usual indignities that lead to near-extinction. The end result is that today, more than half a century after they were built, real ’57 factory fuelies are rare indeed.

There are, of course, varying degrees of rarity, and what makes this Venetian Red example stand out from the rest is not where it’s been or what it’s done, but rather where it hasn’t been and what it hasn’t done. Simply stated, it hasn’t been much of anywhere and hasn’t done much of anything. It sounds a bit boring, but 52 years of near non use has yielded what is likely to be the most original, unrestored fuel-injected ’57 Corvette on the entire planet.

Anthony Carlisi bought the car new from Manhattan Chevrolet dealer Don Allen. Carlisi was in the United States Merchant Marine and spent most of his time out at sea. That explains why the car was ordered in January, built in February but not delivered until June. It also explains why it was very rarely driven.

We’re not sure what became of Carlisi, but do know that by the early ’60s, the car was owned by his girlfriend, and from her it went to a painter, who had seen it while doing some work in her house. The painter brought the car to his home in Floral Park, New York in about 1964. He used it very sparingly for the next 35 years. In fact, he normally drove the Vette only once a year, taking it several blocks from his house to display it in the Kiwanis Club of Floral Park’s annual antique car show.

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