The system in this car did leak fluid in the past, and did scar the paint on the trunk floor, but fortunately it didn’t leak enough to reach the spare tire. The spare has never been used and is perfect. It still wears ink stampings on the tread, as well as a shipping label that reads “CHEV ST. LOUIS, DIV OF GMC, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.”
Mint original spare tires are quite rare in ’57 Corvettes, but they are not unheard of. Original road tires, on the other hand, are beyond rare. This car doesn’t just have original tires—the hardcore Corvette enthusiast can put together original sets using original spares from four different cars—it still has the original tires it was wearing when it rolled out of the Corvette assembly plant in February 1957! Light but pervasive sidewall crazing is the only thing that gives away the fact that these “gum dipped” Firestone Deluxe Champion whitewalls are not reproductions.
The odometer indicates an honest 20,836 miles, and the car runs and drives as you would expect a gently used vehicle with that many miles behind it to run and drive. The original exhaust system’s throaty idle turns into an urgent roar with a stab on the gas pedal, demonstrating the rapid throttle response that gives the fuel-injected C1 even greater perceived performance than its output would indicate, especially when compared with carbureted cars.
The engine’s power is put through the factory original 3-speed manual gearbox en route to that low-gear rear axle. Given the car’s long list of options, including the power-operated soft top, a removable hardtop, AM Wonderbar radio, two-tone paint, parking-
brake alarm, courtesy lights, whitewall tires and heater, it’s logical to assume that the original owner would have ordered a four-speed manual transmission. But alas, the four-speed option was not released until April 9, 1957 and this car was ordered four months prior to that.
The underside of this masterpiece was never smothered in undercoating or assaulted by a “rattle-can restoration,” and is therefore as honest as it gets. A light rust patina covers those areas where the factory finish has weathered away. Nothing underneath the car has been changed, and the frame stencil and various inspection marks are still clearly visible.
McCabe fully appreciates the historical significance of his fuelie and has taken steps to preserve its original condition. “In a sense, I really don’t ‘own’ this car,” he opines wistfully. “I am simply lucky enough to be its caretaker, and my responsibility is to make sure it’s passed on to the next caretaker in the same wonderful state of preservation I found it in.”