The 1957 Chevrolet Corvette that rewrote the record books of drag strips, around the country, during the 1970s. It became known as "Cheaterville" because those it raced against couldn't accept its winning ways. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
In November of last year, the venerable Chevrolet small block V8 celebrated six decades of being inserted into 100 million cars and trucks. One of the best examples of what it was capable of doing is inserted in the engine bay of a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette; nicknamed "Cheaterville" by its second owner.
This Corvette came from the factory with a 283 cubic-inch V8, topped by a Rochester fuel injection unit. It was good for 283 horsepower. Backing up the engine was a four-speed manual transmission.
Jack Murray, an Oregon state resident is believed to be the first person to have owned it. He took it out on a variety of road courses in Oregon and did reasonably well. Exact details of that stage of its existence are sketchy and the only documentation is a photo of the car, racing on a road course, with a hole in the front where something was hit.
But it was with its second owner, Mike Malick of Kent, Washington, that it became best known. He bought it from Murray, sometime in 1965. Malick didn't have much interest in road-racing, but instead took the Corvette out to what was then known as Seattle International Raceway, just outside of Kent. He modified the fuel injection unit's interior plenum for better fuel delivery. The outside of the fuel injection unit was modified to make it look stock, according to current owner, Bill Cotter of Seattle.
Additionally, a switch was installed to lock the brakes, for a better launch in the quarter-mile. The results were more than even Malick might have expected. The Corvette ended up at the 1972 NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Winternationals in February of 1972; and on the sixth of February, it became the first Corvette in its class -- Super Stock -- run the quarter mile in just 11 seconds. As a result, it also won its class, at that same race.
Malick's Corvette acquired a reputation for winning, so much so that his competitors refused to accept that a 283 cubic-inch V8 could do what it did. Indeed, he was challenged so many times for breaking the rules, that he showed his sense of humor by painting the name of "Cheaterville" on the sides of the car; along with having someone put flames on the sides and nose. In its "Cheaterville" make-up, it was the centerfold of Chevy Power magazine in 1974.
Malick ceased to campaign the "Cheaterville" in the 1980s, but held onto it. He'd bring it out for Chevrolet shows, to bring back memories. Finally, around the turn of the century, he retired and took to driving a RV to Arizona in the winter, and sold the Corvette to Bill Cotter of Seattle.
"I'm a road racer myself; but I prepared it for vintage drag racing," said Cotter. "I liked all the room inside of the car. It had a removable hard-top; with a hard top, you don't need a roll-bar."
The interior of the "Cheaterville" Corvette is really spacious, due to the fact that, when raced with its removable hard top, no roll bar needed to be installed. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
A cosmetic restoration was done by Byers Custom Restoration of Kent. Cotter had the fuel injection unit on the engine carefully removed. He then installed a four-barrel carburetor and had a special air cleaner made.
The 283 cubic-inch V8 in the "Cheaterville" Corvette is now fitted with a four-barrel carburetor and a custom fabricated air cleaner; however, Bill Cotter the current owner has saved the fuel injection unit that was original equipment. Moreover, the engine block and transmission are "matching numbers" -- original to the car. (Photos by Terry Parkhurst)
Repeated attempts to contact Mike Malick,via two telephone numbers on an old business card, one for the RV's winter home in Arizona, were unsuccessful. But the car he named "Cheaterville" goes on, showing future generations what could be achieved with a small block V8 in a lightweight Corvette. -- Terry Parkhurst
Note: the "Cheaterville" is for sale and those interested can learn more by contacting Jeri Drager, at Drager's Classics in Shoreline, Washington by telephone at (206) 533-9600 or by e-mail: email@example.com