Let’s be honest; this list can easily be populated by 21st century Corvettes and nothing else. But, where’s the fun in that? It’s much more rewarding digging out some of the forgotten Bow Tie brand’s performance gems and compiling a list that takes at least one additional factor into consideration. Production year. After all, 650-horsepower Corvette Z06 available today was something unimaginable back in the sixties, for instance. But someone had to be crowned performance king even then. That’s what this list is all about. Like previous similar Mopar and Buick lists, this fastest Chevy list also brings the most powerful and unique performance models of the GM’s volume badge.
Although Chevrolet was never actually considered GM’s performance branch, it actually sported the fastest and most powerful GM models more often than not. With famous race car driver Louis Chevrolet as one of its founders, that doesn’t really come as a surprise. Chevrolet might have been GM’s volume brand for the most part, but performance roots were always deep in Bow Tie’s conscience and philosophy.
1957 Corvette C1
Corvette wasn’t only Chevrolet’s first sports car. It was also their first true performance car. Although it debuted in 1953, it wasn’t until 1957 that it finally started exhibiting its true potential. Six-cylinder was gone and only 283ci small-block V8 in various tunes remained. Depending on choice of options, ’57 ‘Vette developed 220 hp, 245 hp, 250 hp, 270 hp or 283 hp. Of course, our favorite is the latest of the mentioned models.
You’ll also notice that total horsepower equals the engine’s displacement. This was the first time in history that a GM mass production engine has managed to achieve the landmark of having 1 horsepower per 1 cubic inch. Thus, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Ed Cole had finally achieved their long-time goal. But all this wouldn’t have been possible without one expensive optional feature. Code 579B was responsible for this Corvette’s success. And behind that code was Rochester mechanical fuel injection. It added around 10 percent to the total price tag and came in short supply, but around 750 ‘Vettes still came with it. Another 284 Corvettes would receive fuel injection for this year, but their final outputs were lowered.
Speaking of output, ’57 ‘Vette with Rochester injection was actually slightly underrated. It developed around 290 horsepower, but that figure clashed with, at that time, present rule of not having more than 1 hp per cubic inch. Aside from fuel injection, these special ’57 Corvettes featured 3-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed manual, optional heavy duty suspension, optional power windows, etc. They also featured new body carried over from 1956 model, which helped finally cementing Corvette’s place as one of the best sports cars available in the US market.