1953 Chevrolet Corvette Prototype Seats Worth $90k?

This could be one for the record book! Instead of examining a desirable collectible car like a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, we’re going to take a look at ’53 Corvette parts. But not just any parts but “prototype” parts, specifically, seats. There is an interesting story that precedes the seats and we’ll examine it and see how it has led to where we are today. These seats are located in Portage, Indiana and are available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $90,000 (gulp) or best offer.

This article, entitled, “Are these seats from the first Corvette prototype—and are they worth $90,000?” from Hagerty Media, authored by Jeff Peek, offers some insight. Most car enthusiasts are familiar with the origins of the Corvette and how it almost didn’t come to life, and then once it did, how the first couple of years were rough sledding for the storied model. We know that 300 ’53 Corvettes were built in Flint, Michigan starting in June of that year – a bit late in the model year but that’s the way Chevrolet rolled with their most notable new creation. The whereabouts of Corvette #1 and #2 have been unknown for years with #3 being the oldest surviving ’53. I recall seeing that car auctioned by Barrett-Jackson years ago but don’t recall the sale price.

The seller claims that these seats are from the first prototype Corvette, dubbed EX-52 which is the car that premiered at the GM Autorama, held at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in January 1953. This particular car was tentatively referred to by the name “Cougar” before the permanent name “Corvette” was adopted. In June of ’53, EX-52 was moved to a Chevrolet assembly plant in Flint where external makeovers, using actual ’53 parts were added to ready the car for production. The changes included  “a taller 1953 Corvette production windshield, the body was repainted, all chrome trim—including emblems, bumpers, wheels, tires, and hubcaps—were replaced with production parts and the 1953 Corvette lower side moldings were added. A new production designed folding top mechanism and canvas was installed.” EX-52 went on to serve as VIN # 1 to participate in a “staged roll-out” and was then later used for fiberglass fire-testing – that had to be a real show-stopper as far as VIN #1’s future was concerned.

Supposedly these seats were removed from EX-52 during the June makeover and replaced with production units. A Corvette historian is referenced in the Hagerty article that claims to have “proof-positive visual characteristics” to validate these seats. So, where have these seats been all of these years? The seller states, “A thorough chain of possession of these seat cushions and buckets is known and may be provided to the successful bidder”. Sounds a bit like “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” The seller further claims to have proof of the seats’ authenticity which he/she will share only with the buyer. So I guess you have to ante-up to find out what’s behind door #1.

Obviously, the buyer is purchasing a slice of early Corvette history, not just a pair of worn-out fiberglass-based seats. They are seriously faded, stained, degraded, and based on all of the shredding, look like they ran afoul of a rodent of some sort.  I suppose these could work as part of a museum display; they could never be reupholstered or used, it would destroy their value and they don’t really appear to have been designed for general motoring use anyway. And as a museum piece, they’re really not that interesting as a stand-alone display. If they could be tied to a specific production car that had been owned by an individual of notoriety, then there would be an enticing storyline, not so much so as they sit.

It is always interesting to see what floats one’s boat. The most rabid Corvette aficionado probably isn’t interested in 67-year-old prototype seats. But I’m sure there is a collector somewhere who will give this interesting find due consideration. The question is, will he or she spring for $90 large?

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Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Nice write up Jim. Myself, I will take the hamburger today, keep the seats. I might do $300 if they were nice. The seller should buck up and donate them to the Corvette museum and take a tax write off.

    Like 27
    • Steve R

      Even though the seller is being ridiculous, you’d be hard pressed to find a pair of late-60’s to early-70’s GM A-body bucket seat cores for $300 which were literally produced in the tens of thousands.

      Steve R

      Like 2
  2. unclemymy Member

    As much as I love artifacts (having recently determined that I am one, myself), I can’t stretch my imagination enough to attach that kind of monetary value to these particular objects. If one of them was proven to have been occupied by the posterior of Marilyn Monroe, as she rode the first Mercury capsule into outer space, I’d say it might be worth it if I had that kind of money to throw away. Anything less than that, and it just becomes a hoarder’s treasure that is effectively priceless until he dies, then worth slightly less than leiniedude’s $300, due to the condition.

    Like 20
    • Big Len

      Fantasyland in Florida and California and now, Portage, Indiana.

      Like 17
  3. Snotty

    90k, and rodent damage! I’ll take mine with fries.

    Like 8
  4. Steve Bush Member

    Agree with the others that $90k is nuts for two ratty old seats, even if they are genuine. While I wouldn’t be interested at any price, perhaps some rich collector might pay a few thousand for them if they could be authenticated.

    Like 5
  5. Marc

    Can I get an order of fries to go with that burger???

    Like 2
  6. bud lee

    I can’t afford not to have these seats

    Like 5
    • Dickie F.

      When I realized many years ago that I have only 80 plus years on this Earth, I decided to always buy what I want, never what an idiot is trying to sell to me as a good investment.
      These seats remind of an African isixhosa tribe cultural belief, NEVER take rubbish home with you ! It is bad luck.

      Like 2
  7. Marty

    I can see them being worth $1000-2000. There isn’t the correct car for them to go into other than one. Someone will want to make their 53 a little more special. Certainly not $10000. The seller knows $90,000 is crazy even if there were 40 examples that might need these. This is one of the most unreasonable advertisements I have ever seen. The other thing is he is only going to provide his proof if you buy them.

    Like 8
  8. DavidH

    Pay the freight, ship them to me, include $90.00, cash, and I will take them to the landfill where they belong and with the change from the $90.00 buy my own burger.

    Like 10
    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      Ha! I actually made an offer of $90.00 for the seats, but they never replied back??

      Like 3
      • Phlathead Phil 🍸

        I wouldn’t pay 90 cents for that nonsense and burgers with fries are unhealthy. However, Beer and fries are Vegan!

        Go figure. 🍺

        Like 1
  9. Racer-X

    My first project car was a 1957 Pontiac Chieftain. I converted the 2 barrel intake into to a tripower 2×3 sitting on a serial number “X” 1956 cast intake.

    I always thought it cool that my poncho consisted of preproduction prototype parts even if nobody else knew.

    Like 6
  10. Scott Marquis

    Oh, wait, I actually know this one. No.

    Like 4
  11. Rodney - GSM

    Okay, this finally proves the old adage,
    “A seat for every ass” and vice versa.

    Like 9
  12. RedBaran

    I’ll have some of what this seller is smoking please…

    Like 5
  13. pickin Member

    Nobody Cares !!!

    Like 7
  14. Tracy

    This guy needs to share what he’s smoking! Maybe worth a $1000

    Like 3
  15. Classic Steel

    Did anyone save the builders urine for 50k?

    How about the seats and the mice that chewed the seats?

    Dream on baby

    Like 6
  16. CJinSD

    I would store these seats for someone, if they paid me enough. I wouldn’t take them for free though. Throwing trash out costs time and money.

    Like 2
  17. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Not a chance. Even if I was a Massive Vette fan I wouldn’t part with a grand for these. What would you do with them?
    Ridiculous

    Like 6
  18. OIL SLICK

    Where is the rest of the car for 90k? I’d pay that for the whole car but……

    Like 1
  19. Erik

    Originality is all the thing nowadays. Ratty looking old cars that are worshipped for looking like crap because the paint is “original”. Well, here’s a pair of original seats too! Just like they came out of the GM custom shop. Must be a steal at $90k.

    Like 1
  20. Mountainwoodie

    Tough audience! And I complain about ridiculously priced vintage tin! This is a whole ‘nother level of stupid.

    Like 7
  21. Mark

    “Honey, baby, please put the gun down……”

  22. Dave Mathers

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like 4
  23. dogwater

    There’s a sucker born every day

    Like 1
  24. 1st Gear

    I’m waiting for the punchline here…
    Oh, and by the way, I’ll have a shake with that burger

    Like 1
  25. Lyle

    Someone will buy them. Why? Because money and brains don’t necessarily go together and, to quote Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid does.

    Like 1
    • Phlathead Phil

      Yeah, somewhere in the back of my mind I hear Jenny yelling; “Run Forrest, run!”

      Like 4
  26. Craigo

    I don’t do drugs except prescription but let me know what this guy is taking as I need them
    after reading this listing

    Like 1
  27. Phlathead Phil

    They say there is an axx for every seat.

    Apparently someone is hoping for TWINS!

    Like 1
  28. PairsNPaint

    I’ve been self-quarantining for so long I didn’t realize it was April 1st already!

    Like 2

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