The original Corvette is still one of the best generations of America’s sports car. Jay Leno happens to own one, a 1957 example, and it is a shinning example of what makes the C1 so cool.
The car Leno owns was originally ordered by an American solider stationed in Korea, and he just happened to have superb taste.
He wanted the fastest, most powerful Corvette that Chevy was offering at the time, and he also wanted a number of creature comforts deleted to also make it the lightest. You won’t find a radio or heater on this car. And the convertible roof was also switched for a simpler, removable hard-top.
Naturally, there’s a V-8 under the hood, as Zora Arkus-Duntov intended. It’s a 283-cubic inch small block, and instead of the standard 3-speed, the buyer chose to pair the engine with the available 4-speed Chevy offered late in the ’57 model year. The peak power is 270 horsepower, which was plenty back in the day. As Leno points out in the video above, it was much more than what most European sports cars came with.
With the arrival of the C8 Corvette later this year marking a switch to a mid-engine layout, tucking away one of the existing front-engined cars might be a good idea, and you probably can’t go wrong with a nice C1. It’s a beautiful piece of history that also happens to be loads of fun.