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April 19: Chevrolet’s “Black Widow” racer was born on this date in 1957

GE Anderson
April 19, 2013

Fifty-six years ago today -- April 19, 1957 -- Chevrolet sent out a letter and booklet, which became known as the 1957 Stock Car Competition Guide, to 411 of its dealers. With that, the 1957 Chevrolet 150 two-door sedan dubbed "Black Widow" was born. The guide clearly stated that "Chevrolet does not manufacture race cars," meaning that Black Widows were not factory cars, but a comprehensive set of guidelines that gave individuals detailed instructions on how to modify their own 150 sedans into competition cars. The guide detailed everything from frame reinforcements to using a fuel-injected 283-cu. in. V-8 engine. And proof was in the pudding: NASCAR driver Buck Baker won the 1957 national championship driving a Black Widow.

[Image courtesy Eric Brockmeyer Design]