19-20 January 2017
Offered from a Private Collection
1954 Chevrolet Corvette
- Chassis no. E54S001388
Sold for $71,500
- Offered from a private collection
- Second year of “America’s Sportscar”
- Formerly of the Jim Rogers collection
- Only 37,000 miles, believed original
- Rare Sportsman Red
Chevrolet’s Corvette was the hit of the 1953 Motorama, General Motors’ traveling exposition of new models. Rushed to production by 30 June, it was based on a passenger car chassis, complete with Blue Flame six-cylinder engine and a two-speed Powerglide transmission. The white show car had three side-draft carburetors, a hot cam, high compression head, and dual exhausts. A true roadster, there were no side windows, the only weather protection being rigid, metal-framed plastic side curtains and a manual canvas top. Its formal debut was held in September at the General Motors Proving Grounds, and 50 Corvettes were delivered by the end of the month. The first cars 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.
Because tooling for a steel body would have been time-consuming and expensive, fiberglass was chosen instead. Still, production was slow and by the end of the year just 300 had been built, all of them white with a red interior. First-year cars were built at Flint, Michigan; Corvette production in St. Louis began with the 1954 model year. The Corvette’s price of $3,498 was $1,200 more than a Bel Air convertible 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. Other changes included a new type bag for window storage, rerouting of fuel and brake lines, and a new air cleaner and starter. At the end of the model year, all production moved to St. Louis. Furthermore, deliveries had increased tenfold, reaching 3,640.
Formerly in the Sun Belt collection of the late Las Vegas media magnate and philanthropist Jim Rogers, this second-year Corvette is one of 100 delivered in the new Sportsman Red color. It has been repainted in its original color, but otherwise has responded well to careful detailing. The interior has matching seats and carpet, and a dashboard finished in contrasting white. The latter contains a center-mounted tachometer, full engine instrumentation, and a push-button radio. Other features include windshield washers and a tan convertible top. The odometer shows barely 37,000 miles, which are believed to be original. The Blue Flame 150 six-cylinder engine is nicely detailed and runs well.
A superb example of an early Corvette in a rare color, this car is ready to be enjoyed to the fullest.
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