The story starts with the 1955 LeMans. On lap 35, Pierre Levegh swerved his Mercedes 300 SLR to miss Mike Hawthorne’s Jaguar D-type, clipped the back of Lance Macklin’s Austin-Healey, went airborne, landed on an earthen berm and somersaulted violently, tearing itself apart. The hood went flying into the crowd, as did the engine block and the entire front suspension. The fuel tank ruptured, and the body, made of a high-magnesium alloy, burned and sent molten metal into the crowds. Levegh was thrown from the car and died upon impact. In total, eighty-four people died and over 120 more were injured. Immediately after news of the deadly wreck spread, a broad movement away from racing was seen worldwide. In the United States, the Automobile Manufacturers Association was feeling serious pressure from the U.S. Government and decided that instead of letting Congress legislate racing, that a voluntary ban on all racing activities in the country would be a safer reaction and would be sufficient enough to shut up Washington. On June 6, 1957, the ban went into effect.
That being said, there was an element inside Chevrolet who saw the ban coming and were bent on getting around it by any means necessary. Vince Piggins, a recent hire from Hudson, was moved to Atlanta. Under the front of SEDCO (Southern Engineering and Development Co.), Piggins and crew took the bare-bones 1957 Chevrolet 150, the cheapest and lightest of the Chevrolet cars, and added the top-of-the-line fuel-injected 283ci V8, a heavy-duty three-speed manual transmission, a six-lug heavy-duty suspension setup, and a 20-gallon gas tank. Painted black and white, the stripper Chevrolets were without question the closest thing to a factory race car that GM had. By April of 1957 the Black Widow program had been fully documented by Piggins and brochures had been sent to dealerships explaining how to put together a car properly for racing. Once the AMA ban became effective, GM ordered SEDCO shut down, but the Black Widow program was moving along, “in private hands” and “with no factory support”, and proved successful when Buck Baker won the 1957 NASCAR Grand National championship, even after NASCAR banned the fuel-injected engines.
One of my favorite Chebbys every…beautifull car.
I wonder how many of these wound up running moonshine?
If I were to think up the perfect shoebox Chevy in my head it would be this car.