Tom Stotts of Mena, Arkansas, acquired his ‘57 Chevy back in 1971 when he was a high school senior in Loveland, Colorado. Like many “Shoebox” enthusiasts of the time, performance was the first thing on his mind. Out came the original 283 V-8 and three-speed combination. The original engine was bored to 301 cubic inches and assembled with all of the right stuff for a respectable street machine. Then, a four-speed and a 4.56:1 differential were installed and it was good to go.
Over the next several years the car went through many transformations from 327s to 350s, four-speed to Turbo 400 and gears ranging from 3.08s to 5.36s. It had new paint on three occasions and interior twice. The last drivetrain combination was a 350/400 with 3.08 gears. The best gas mileage that Tom could attain was a meager 10-12 mpg. It was time for a major change.
Tom was already leaning toward fuel injection when he made a visit to Street & Performance in Mena. After a tour of the plant and a good look at the Corvette LT1 engine, Tom’s mind was made up. He had to have one! A new crate engine and transmission would not fit Tom’s budget, but a used one would. So Mark Campbell of Street & Performance supplied a low-mileage LT1/460E combination out of a ’94 Corvette and the fun began. Tom enlisted the aid of Archie Speer, owner of Hot Rod Assembly Line, to transplant the new powertrain.
Additionally, the spare tire hole was removed and a large Rock Valley fuel tank, with internal high-pressure fuel pump was installed. With approximately 22 gallons of gas Tom would be able to cruise all day without stopping for anything but fun. The fuel is transported through stainless steel lines from Tube Tech of Mena. Power steering was added using a Mullins Steering 605 gearbox, and Lokar accessories rounded out the cabin and engine compartment. For better cooling this beauty also has a Griffin radiator.
Editor’s Note: One of the hottest performance trends in lowrider circles is to pull out the OE engine and put a fuel-injected Corvette LT1 engine under the hood. While this may seem like a radical departure from the traditional Chevy small-block, it’s actually a powerful and fuel-efficient alternative to building up the stock engine. Lifestyle Car Club member Tim Rodriguez, put an LT1 in his awesome ’57 Bel Air convertible, featured in the Primedia booth at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. And, it’s is easier than ever, thanks to aftermarket companies like Street & Performance. Check out this example of a typical LT1 swap using the S&P Kit in another ’57.