Blue Flame Survivor: 1954 Chevrolet Corvette

“America’s Sports Car” has been used to describe the Chevy Corvette, which has been in production almost continuously since 1953 (there was no ’83 ‘Vette). The first three years of the car would set the stage for an automobile that would see more than 1.5 million units produced – and the counter is still running. The car was the brainchild of GM head designer Harley Earl who wanted to create a car built on American soil that was inspired by the finest of European sports cars. Until recently this 1954 edition was part of a small collection (two cars) and it has been refurbished to move on to a new home. Not the kind of car you usually find here on craigslist, it’s located in Dearborn, Michigan, and available for $89,000. We appreciate our pal Ikey Heyman for letting us know about this one!

The name Corvette was borrowed from a line of small, fast navy ships that were used during World War II. The car has seen eight design generations and has recently moved from a front-engine to mid-engine configurations, but always with rear-wheel-drive. Envisioned as such from Day 1, the cars utilize fiberglass and composite bodies, unlike other GM cars. The Corvette began life as a convertible, but a coupe would not be far behind. While the first-gen of the Corvette (C1) would continue through 1962, the first three years would be the most alike. Just 4,460 Corvettes were built between 1953-55, with all but 1,000 of them being from 1954. The initial (and only) powerplant offered was the 235 cubic inch, “Blue Flame” inline-six that was rated at 150 hp and was paired with Chevy’s 2-speed Powerglide automatic. Hot stuff? Not, really. But the cool factor was off the rails!

As would be befitting a car with the heritage of an early ‘Vettes, this car has a story. The widow of the owner of this car and a 1970 Stingray paid Shamrock Automotive a visit in Dearborn asking for their help in prepping both cars for sale. The newer car apparently was a no-brainer because it was sold within 24 hours. This ’54 model was dirty and in need of several repairs to pass it along as a turn-key car to the next owner. Those repairs have been completed and include the following:

  • New convertible top and a full detail of the car
  • New brakes including wheel cylinders and master cylinder
  • New fuel system from carb to tank, including the tank and carb rebuild
  • Tune-up, battery, and water pump

The price tag for all this work was in the neighborhood of $7,000. The rest of the car was nice, to begin with, including the body, Polo White paint, and interior. The photos show no issues that we should be worried about. The odometer reflects 53,000 miles and we have no reason to suspect it’s not actual.  The car was assembled in May of 1954 at the GM plant in nearby Flint, Michigan.

The 1953-55 Corvettes were not the barnburners that the later models would become, and we suspect they weren’t supposed to be. Hagerty has tracked these cars for years and examples in excellent condition are estimated in the asking price range of the seller’s car. And even into six figures. You don’t see an $89,000 car for sale on craigslist very often, but you do now.

WANT ADS

WANTED 1958 Buick Limited 2 Door Hard Top Looking for a 1958 Buick limited coupe hard top, survivor or restored. Contact

WANTED 1981 – 1989 Renault LeCar, Alliance, Medallion Looking for near-new condition Contact

WANTED 1973-1975 Pontiac GRAND AM HI, LOOKING FOR A PONTIAC GRAND AM TWO DOOR IN FAIR, GOOD OR EXCELLENT CONDITION Contact

WANTED 1964-1972 Chevrolet Chevelle SS… Nova SS… Chevy II SS Looking for SS ONLY.. project car or needing work preferred but will look at all… NATIONWIDE Contact

WANTED 1945-50’s Ford Pickups Has engine and transmission Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. Josh

    I beg to differ with the statement in your first paragraph. There absolutely was a 1983 ‘vette. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fttu0hY_l2w

    Like 10
    • Jcs

      Hi Russ

      I know that you like your listings to be factual. You may want to correct your statement. The Corvette never went out of production (other than Covid related slowdowns). The 83 was simply a skipped model year only as far as nonclementure is concerned, production never ceased.

      Like 11
    • Tracy

      Yep, there was one. It’s at the corvette museum.

      Like 7
    • David

      Good one, Josh. And not to be picky but there were actually 10 1983 Corvettes built, all retained in-house by GM and destroyed after being used for production testing for the 1974 models that were sold to the public.

      Like 4
      • David

        Ugh! Bad typing. 1984, not 1974.

        Like 6
      • Jon

        Actually you all are incorrect.
        There were just 14 C4 prototypes and 43 “pilot cars” made in 1983, all of which were marked for destruction after the completion of testing. Only 1 did not get destroyed.

        Like 2
    • Neal Cook

      Was no 1983 Assembly Line Corvettes,
      only 6 examples which were basically Factory prototypes.

      Like 1
    • Gerard Planche

      ouch!!!

  2. Bultaco

    The ‘53-‘55 seems like a success where styling is concerned, but it’s too bad it was such a truck under the skin. This certainly changed with the ‘56-‘57, which more than made up for it.

    Like 5
    • Gordon Mobley

      The 1953 through 1962 Corvettes used the same bolt on/
      Bolt off king pin and bushing cross member and suspension as the 1948 through 1954 passenger car . . . Hard to believe . .

      • Gordon Mobley

        Make that 1949 through 1954 front suspension passenger car was the same as 1953 through 1962 Corvette ..

  3. JoeNYWF64

    Were wide whitewalls standard? I don’t think i ever seen a ’53-55 w/o them.
    It would be interesting to compare a prodction ’53 or ’54 with the motorama car …
    http://kerbeck.com/worlds-oldest-corvette/

    Like 1
  4. Johnny

    Nice looking Corvett,but no more work she had done to it. Buy what is listed. They ripped her off big time.

    Like 1
    • Steve Bush Member

      Looks to be a very nice Corvette but agree with Johnny, $7k seems outrageous for a new top and gas tank, a bunch of maintenance items and a detail. I wonder how much went to labor.

      Like 3
      • Frank Sumatra

        I will repeat myself without apology- Anyone who purchases a vintage Corvette without first spending $50 to join the NCRS and then spending some more money on a Judging Manual/Technical Guide stands a high chance of getting fleeced. A lot of great people involved in the Corvette universe and an equal number of dirtbags. And that quite simply is a fact.

        Like 2
  5. Dual Jetfire

    Americas Sports Car was the 51 Nash Healey, with the DUALJETFIRE Lemans engine and Airflyte styling.

    Like 4
    • Frank Sumatra

      “Was” is correct. America’s Sports Car is still being built in Bowling Green, KY.

      Like 4
  6. JoeNYWF64

    When a steering wheel extends out over the front seat!! & the steering column is non collapsible, should that not be a big concern – even back then? I would fit a shortened collapsible column with a smaller wheel, unless you plan only to show the car. I doubt someone like the Rock or even Leno could fit in this car as the driver. Or can the driver’s seat go back further?

    • Tom Falls

      Need the big wheel to steer them, no power steering!!
      They are also wrong on the number built. The 53 had about 320, 54 about 360 and the 55 800 plus!!

      • Frank Sumatra

        I think 1953 production was 300. First two are supposedly gone. #003 is the oldest one in existence. That car was buried on a farm near Fresno, CA to keep from losing it in a nasty divorce in the 1960’s.

        Like 1
      • Rosco

        Regarding the comments about the ’53 Corvettes, Dave Ressler paid $1 million to purchase the #003 1953 Corvette in 2006 at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction.

    • ken tiven

      notice the position of the passenger seat. of course it can go back….fat guys bought corvettes too.

  7. Terry J

    The first Corvettes were in the French Navy starting around 1670, and in fact is probably where the term came from. The Brits had them so named around 1830. They were small, fast warships. As such, the word “corvette” is first found in Middle French, meaning a “basket”, from the Latin corbis. LOL. Terry J

    • Ike Onick

      And many folks believed the early GM Corvettes were named after ships based on the amount of water that leaked into them. Now the big question is should we have been pronouncing them “Cor-vays” since 1953? After all they are “Chev-ro-lays” not “Chev-ro-lets” I report, you decide!

      Like 1
      • Ed P

        Louis Chevrolet pronounced his name this way.

        Like 2
      • Tom Bell

        Both are correct pronunciations. In French, the double “T” at the end of a word such as Corvette is pronounced. In words ending in a single “T” such as Chevrolet, the T is silent and pronounced as “ay”.

        Like 2
      • Ike Onick

        Merci

        Like 1
  8. Gary

    I recall when I was maybe 10 I was invited to see a friend’s Corvette model. It was a boat. I was so disappointed.

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.