Fastest American Car in 1957

1/16/2019
Greg Zyla
 
Q: Greg, I question the article from a reader in the January 23 edition of Auto Round-Up. The reader says that the 1957 Rambler Rebel and the 1957 Chevy Corvette being were the fastest cars for 1957. I say the fastest cars in 1957 came from Ford, which made the F and E code 312 Y block V8 that you could get in any Ford model, including T-birds, Fairlanes, Wagons and Rancheros. The E code came with two four barrel carbs and 270 HP and the F code had a McCulloch supercharger with advertised 300 HP, but made close to 340 HP. In my view, the 1957 F code T-bird was the fastest American car in 1957. What was the fastest American car in 1957?  Thanks, Travis.

A: Travis, thanks for your email and I am not going to argue your point. Both the injected 1957 Corvette and the 1957 Rebel with a 4-barrel were very fast, but Ford indeed did have a powerhouse with the 312 engine, and set many a record at Bonneville in 1956 on the Salt Flats. The car also did very well on the drag strips and oval tracks, too.
 
Since the Supercharged Ford Thunderbird only found 200 buyers, I'd like to pinpoint the 1957 Ford Custom 300 with the 270 horsepower 312. The Custom 300 was Ford's lightest passenger car, and when combined with the $200 option high performance 270 horsepower 312 engine, it was up to the task of being perhaps the fastest of the regularly produced cars.
 
The engine featured two-four barrels, 9.7 compression pistons, solid lifter high-lift camshaft and dual exhaust. With the proper rear end gearing at Bonneville, this is the engine that set numerous records at Bonneville in different weight classes.
 
When it comes to any car being the fastest, so many variables go into the equation. Rear end gearing is one of the most important, as quickest is different than fastest in the fact that a quick quarter-mile time doesn't necessarily mean a fast overall top speed at Bonneville. Thus the very same car with rear gearing for the drag races (4.56 ratio) and gearing for Bonneville (2.87 ratio) would be mutually quick and fast, respectively.
 
However, your Ford "fastest car" letter is well taken, as the company did indeed produce some very fast and quick street machines, and perhaps the fastest of them all in 1957 with that Supercharged Thunderbird. Ford also won 26 of 53 NASCAR Grand National events during the 1957 season and its first manufacturer championship, which occurred before full factory support for drivers and teams.
 
Thanks for your letter.
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