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Selling on Saturday

1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

  • 1 of only 100 cars finished from the factory in Sportsman Red
  • Beautifully restored example
  • Complete with soft top and factory side curtains
  • Blue Flame six-cylinder engine with three side-draft carburetors

VIN: E54S002562

Register To Bid Auction Info

Identifying the need for a small American two-seat sports car to compete with the ever increasingly popular European imports, Harley Earl and a small team of designers secretly created the Corvette and it was rushed into production by June 30, 1953. Based on a Chevy passenger car chassis, complete with Blue Flame six-cylinder engine and two-speed Powerglide transmission, the white roadster had three side-draft carburetors, a hot cam, high compression head and dual exhausts. Its 150 horsepower would propel the car to 60 mph in 11 seconds - not bad for the early '50s. At first, a conventional steel body was planned, but the anticipated low production volume caused Earl to favor molding the body in fiberglass, a then-new lightweight material ideally suited to producing the unusually smooth and rounded contours of the new car.

In the best sports car tradition, there were no side windows, the only weather protection being rigid, metal-framed plastic side curtains and a manual canvas convertible top. Its formal debut was held in September at the General Motors Proving Grounds and 50 were delivered by the end of the month. The first cars, all white with red interiors, were allocated to high-volume dealerships for sale to prominent citizens in their communities. Among the latter was John Wayne, who received Corvette number 51 on October 7. The Corvette's price of $3,498 was $1,200 more than a Bel Air convertible, the most expensive "regular" '53 Chevy, and $500 more than the Ford Thunderbird introduced a year later. The 1954 models differed mostly in availability of additional colors. Although Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red and black were added to the palette, Polo White remained the most popular, with four-fifths produced in that color. At the end of the model year, all production shifted to St. Louis.

Despite the public's enthusiastic reaction, sales remained low as just 3,640 Corvettes were built in 1954. Meanwhile, Ford's new Thunderbird was selling at more than five times that pace. The introduction of a V-8 engine for 1955 and re-engineering by Zora Arkus-Duntov for extra performance enhanced the Corvette's reputation as America's only true sports car. Still, the 1953-55 models retained the pure form of the Harley Earl design that turned so many heads at the '53 Motorama and remain much sought-after today.

The 1954 Corvette offered here looks as sensational today as it did 70 years ago. This exceptionally well-restored Corvette is 1 of only 100 cars finished in the highly desirable color of Sportsman Red. This car has less than 1,000 miles on the odometer after a nut-and-bolt restoration. The paint is gorgeous and shines far better than new. The chrome and the trim look spectacular against the deep red paint finish. The upholstery is fabulous and the padding is firm. The dash and door panels are excellent and the steering wheel is in very good condition with only very small stress cracks just beginning to show. The windshield, side curtain glass and top are in excellent shape. The Corvette-only spinner wheel covers and wide whitewall tires are like new. The original 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame Six engine and Powerglide transmission are in perfect sync and were rebuilt during the restoration. The underside is detailed and looks magnificent as well.

This fine example has been recently gone through by a collector car service shop to ensure it is in as good of running and driving condition as possible. Seven decades after it left the factory, this rare Sportsman Red Corvette exemplifies the early Harley Earl design that continues to impress car enthusiasts today.

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