Live Auctions

16k Mile Survivor: 1954 Chevrolet Corvette

Talk about pedigree. A one family 1954 Corvette, a bit over 16k miles, all the original paperwork, and as the seller says “…a true unmolested original American icon that can be shown and enjoyed…”. Found here on eBay, with thanks the reader Mike H, my heart goes straight to a simple Soap and Water restoration, then hit the road.

A quick conversation with the seller (who’s offerings are usually Cadillacs) and the uniqueness of this survivor is confirmed. Bought in June of 1954, it was handed down to the son after the original owner passed on, then went to the original owner’s daughter after her brother sadly passed. It’s been garaged for the past 15 years, but a plastic tarp used to cover it did trap moisture that led to the current patina. Still, to me, it is a simply stunning 1954 specimen.

Unlike the Corvette lineage that would follow the first couple of years, the production runs in 1953 (the first commercial corvette year) and 1954 were very small: 300 in ’53, and a little over 3.6k in ’54. You could buy your ‘vette in almost any color you wanted – as long as your color was either blue, red, black or white. The original white top on this confirms it’s a ’54 – since the first 300 in the previous year had black tops.

My guess is this one will go fast. It’s a bit above $50k right now, so it’s starting to move into the range of models in far better shape. As most of you know by now, I’m a huge fan of leaving classics “as is” when they reach a perfectly aged patina. Perhaps I’m trying to justify my own decision to let the hair grey naturally and not give in to the temptation of “Just for Men” youth – but I’ll stick to my guns, and hope that the buyer of this beauty drives away as is, and just keeps on driving.


  1. slickb

    You can’t go wrong with a car like this.

  2. Anthony in RI

    The closest i am going to get to a 53 – 60 Corvette is the NOS grille tooth i have had since 1974. LOL


      One piece at a time just like Johnny Cash. :)

  3. SAM61

    Nice find and writeup! It’s only original once…thourough detailing and enjoy.

  4. chad

    patina? yes for baby boomer’s hair to remain as is, not cars.

    All ways luved the carter YH side drafts be it 4 or 6 cyl…but straight 6’n 8 motors R also my fav as well. Seen YH on boats too.

    Good 2 C em together (YH/6) on this rig (but like the ’56 – 63 body style best as am a boomer myself).

    Wash it, dust it, start it (gently) & drive.

    • ACZ

      YH is also the carb used on Corvair Turbos.

  5. CCFisher

    Amazing that there are still cars out there like this. Gives me hope that my barn find could be right around the corner.

  6. Mark S.

    I love to see a time capsule like this. It would be terrible to see someone take her apart and do an over the top restoration. I wouldn’t touch a thing. They’re only original once.

  7. grant

    Not JUST soap and water, Garr. Give it new fluids and greases, and rubber bits. Then come take me for a ride, please!

  8. Jeff

    Clean and preserve or restore? First, this is a car and not the Mona Lisa. A painting can be carefully cleaned so that it can be better viewed. After all, the artist intended the painting to be viewed. If a car was meant only to be viewed then maybe cleaning might be enough. But, cars are meant to drive. You cannot fully experience a car without driving or riding in it. There are both aesthetic and functional considerations to this experience. It should function as its designers intended. All the elements of a car should be operational under the conditions intended for its use. This includes the ‘rubber bits’, mechanical pieces, glass and even the paint. The paint is meant to protect the car from the elements. If the paint is not doing the job it needs to be fixed, as sympathetically as possible.

    • GP Member

      I agree 100%, Why have a car like this and the paint looks like crap. A little P- word is o.k. When it needs paint it needs paint.

      • Rodent

        I agree 100%. This car needs a very careful “frame on” repaint in a single stage lacquer, if such a thing it still available. The rest of the car can get a deep cleaning and detailing.

  9. Loco Mikado

    In the mid 90’s I was a remodeling contractor. One of my customers had one identical to this one only in better condition. He said he had bought it in 1961 and called it his “courting car” that he used when he was dating his wife, still drove it in nice weather. He also had a Corvair van and a turbo Corvair in his garage and a parts van in his backyard. Quite a contrast in vehicles. The 3 good cars sat in the garage and his everyday drivers sat in the driveway.

  10. 1972

    I bought this car, it will get new paint (correct) and a mechanical twice over and that’s it. A true survivor deserves to remain original in all its glory.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Do you mind giving us a ballpark of what you had to pay?

      • 1972


  11. Jon

    GONE !!!

  12. Maestro1 Member

    Excellent find. Best wishes to the buyer. I bought a 53 when they were new. Very dumb to sell it.

  13. Scuderia

    Kind of surprised at the number of folks wanting to see it painted. Personally I think this is about as perfect an old car as you are going to find. Of course I agree with doing the necessary maintenance/repairs to keep it safe and reliable but paint especially on a fiberglass body does not fit into that category. To each his own, but I suspect based on how quick this was sold that the person buying it wants this car because of the fact that it hasn’t been restored.

  14. Joe Haska

    We all know that Barrett-Jackson Auction is the indicator of all things automotive, the end all of everything, everyone who attends B/J, is an expert of all automotive values and pricing, they know it all, and have EVT rateing’s to prove it (know Every F—— Thing). With that factoid in mind ,this year a beautiful restored 54 Corvette was 80K, and a Resto-Mod, B/J term, went for a 130K. So there it is in black and white, Barrett-Jackson has set the standard for 54 Corvettes. For that reason, best let this one go (if you believe in factoids)

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Yes, seeing all of the C1 and C2 restomods made my stomach hurt.

  15. charlie Member

    It had all the original hard to source parts: headlight grills, plexiglas cover over rear license plate, wonderbar radio (it would appear), spinner wheelcovers, and air cleaners on the 3 Carter side draft carbs. I would paint it in the original one coat lacquer polo white, soften up the seats so they would not split, put in a dual brake cylinder, replace the brake lines and cylinders, and drive it on nice days. If you lusted after one, note that the 6 is very front heavy and it does not want to go around corners at speed, 2 speed Powerglide is not very responsive, that steering column will go right through you chest in a front impact crash, if you are over 5′ 8″ the top of the windshield is in your line of sight, Plexiglas side curtains are a pain to see through if you can see through them at all. Ask the man who owned one. And sold it for $1,600 to buy a brand new ’68 Chevelle wagon to tow his future wife’s horse trailer.


    Another case of covering a car and trapping in moisture. I had a neighbor who had a cherry El Camino that he covered outside. I tried to tell him the wind would whip and damage the paint and his cover didn’t breath so it trapped moisture but he didn’t listen.2 years later when he returned from the Army and uncovered the car he was heartbroken when he saw the damage.

    • Buick Fan

      Agree, though well meaning, a plastic tarp is the worst kind of protection. On a similar note…Back in the 80’s I had planned a cross country trip from Detroit to San Francisco in my ’74 BMW 3.0 cs, I bought a front bra to protect the paint from bugs and road trash and by the time I arrived and removed the bra, the paint was trashed from wind buffeting…live and learn!

  17. Jack Quantrill

    Tried to buy a black ‘54, and later, a red ‘55 V8 with three speed manual as a teenager .Unfortunately, had no money!

  18. Fiete T.

    Oddly, don’t care for Corvettes until ’63. And then cherry-pick through them for ones I like. I understand what they mean, yadda,yadda,yadda…but slow, flimsy, solid axles (gee, like grandpa’s pick-em-up), crap brakes, and a premium price? Not all that good looking either

  19. Wayne

    Early Corvetts are cool cruisers. But not anything you want to spend time in. I know, my Dad and I restored a ’55 and then a ’58.

  20. Bob

    Saw this at Bonneville a few years ago. I liked it just the way it was..

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