Piston Slap: Proper care and feeding of a ’57 Chevrolet?

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Piston Slap Advice 57 Chevrolet lede
Chevrolet

Charles writes:

What gas should I use in my 1957 Chevy with stock 283? Also should I use oil with a high zinc content when I change it?

Sajeev answers:

Good questions!  We discussed the validity of using diesel-blended oils (i.e. high zinc content) in cars without catalytic converters a while back, but the same information applies here with Charles’ Tri-Five Chevy. Odds are that same Shell Rotella T4 (or comparable oil from from Mobil, Chevron, etc.) in a 15w-40 weight is ideal. So, yes, make the switch, but maybe spend a few minutes with Shell technical support for US Lubricants before pulling the trigger on a specific weight.

Gasoline is a little different story. The internet says the 1957 Chevy’s 283 small-block ran 8:1 compression when stock, though one source insists it’s actually 8.5:1 compression. Either way, that’s pretty tame by today’s standards, so modern low octane gas is all you’ll need if the motor is indeed stock. I’d run a few gallons of the cheapest, lowest octane stuff you can find locally and see if detonation is an issue. Odds are your 283 is far more forgiving than most machines on the road today and will be more than happy with it. The only thing to look out for is ethanol fuel, which should be avoided if possible. While there are fuel system hacks/workarounds provided in the last link, avoiding ethanol is the best move, no matter which octane rating you choose.

Best of luck keeping your Chevy running in top form!

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