The big story under the hood at General Motors in 1957 was the introduction of Rochester Fuel Injection for the Chevrolet and Pontiac V8s. This original GM promotional reel trumpets the news—let’s watch.
Here in 2016, fuel injection is nearly universal in gasoline engines across the auto industry, but in 1957 it was quite an innovation, offered by fewer than a handful of car makers including Mercedes-Benz. And as you can see in this original factory promotional film, GM and its Rochester Products division were extremely proud of their achievement. The system did enjoy middling success, too: Despite its considerably greater cost and complexity, it was used to good effect by Chevrolet (notably on the Corvette) from 1957 through 1965, and by Pontiac, briefly, in 1957 and 1958.
While modern FI systems utilize electronic management and precision-timed injection, the Rochester scheme was far more simple: It was completely mechanical and operated at constant flow. Our little three-minute film is not terribly technical, but it does clearly show the Rochester’s three essential component groups: The intake manifold assembly with plenum and eight individual runners; an air meter and throttle valve assembly to measure and manage the air entering the engine; and a fuel meter assembly to proportionally deliver fuel to the eight individual injector nozzles. (See the illustration above for the gist of the setup.)
Was the Rochester system as effective as modern electronic fuel injection? No, not by a long shot. But it did enjoy some significant advantages over the venerable carburetor, including superior air/fuel mixture distribution and ability to handle high cornering loads. The film supplies a nice overview, and as a bonus, provides a detailed look inside a 1950s-vintage carburetor lab and its fascinating equipment. Video below.