Pure Americana: 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Driver

Chevrolet made a big splash with the 1953 Corvette:  the world’s first mass-produced fiberglass car. This 1954 Chevrolet Corvette represents the Sophomore update, though Chevy applied minimal changes. Thanks to Rocco B. for spotting this unrestored second-year Corvette in San Luis Obispo, California listed here on Los Angeles craigslist, asking price unknown. Hardly true to 1954, these beefy five-slot wheels appeared in 1967 with the advent of disc brakes. The car will be sold with “original bias ply white walls and hub caps.”

The ’53 Corvette featured similar through-body exhaust ports more tightly fitted to the body, but swirling exhaust marred the brilliant white finish, leading to longer tailpipes for ’54. With heavy hitters like Harley Earl and Zora Arkus-Duntov, Chevy played a chess game, anticipating the fickle market for the new halo car compared to sports cars from Jaguar, Triumph, and others which had become popular after World War II. Meanwhile, by the Fall of 1954, Ford introduced its own two-seat personal luxury car, the Thunderbird.

Though never “restored,” the interior has gained some replacement parts. For 1954 the Corvette offered one transmission, a two-speed Powerglide Automatic, oddly listed as a mandatory option to lower a “base price” higher than anticipated during the car’s inception. But seriously, a two-speed automatic? That sounds ridiculous for any classic car with sporting aspirations. Thanks to corvsport.com for some details.

Chevrolet’s “Blue Flame” six cylinder engine made 155 HP in the 1954 Corvette. While Ford had offered the “flathead” V8 since the 1930s, Chevrolet leveraged the inherent advantages of its inline six cylinder engines until finally offering a V8 in 1955. The single air cleaner housing suggests this may be an early 1954 model, as a dual filters appeared later in the model year. What do you think of this driver-quality second-year Corvette?

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Comments

  1. Pa Tina

    Without the vision of Zora Duntov, the Corvette would have had a very short life and probably been gone by 1955. Thanks, Zora!

  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    I’m confused. I don’t see the air cleaner, and are those 3 two-barrels coming off the intake manifold?

    • HotWheelsCalgary

      I’m not a Corvette expert at all… and someone is welcome to correct me if I am wrong, but I think the chrome pieces on the carbs are the air cleaners.

      And the 2 speed PowerGlide! The good old 2 speed! There’s still companies that make them and there are some drag racers that swear by them! A buddy of mine calls them the “2 Speed Slip N’ Slide”..lol

      • gbvette62

        53’s and 54’s to about VIN 2900, used the 3 small chrome “bullet” air cleaners. After that, two round “pot” type air cleaners, were mounted on a manifold, that connected to the three carbs.

        Each bullet air cleaner has 3 small openings, wrapping about half way around it. They weren’t really much of an air cleaner, with the only filtering material being a fine screen across the opening. They were made by a company called Boettger, who also made a similar air cleaner for motorcycles.

        By the way, the carbs used were Carter one barrels, not two barrels.

        The engine is missing the ignition shielding, which can be quite expensive to replace, and I’m not sure if that’s the correct valve cover. The Corvette cover was shaped a little differently from the passenger car one.

        The seller claims the paint is 90% original, but with the “Chevrolet” script missing from the front fenders, I’d have to think the car received a repaint at some point in it’s life.

    • Pookie Jamie P

      Nor do I see the blue cylinder head cover nor the blue flame insignia

      • Dick in SoCal

        Some 1954’s came with a chrome valve cover and no decal, including he one that I had for over twenty years. Also, I think the extended exhaust outlets were running changes in 1954 like the air cleaners; some early ones did not have them. It’s too bad that the VIN number is not included; VIN’s are very important pedigrees to the Corvette aficionados.

  3. Andre

    They’re single barrels, and ya those are the air cleaners

  4. johnfromct

    Those seats original? I seriously doubt it. As for Chevy’s powerglide, it was still being used in the Corvette in the c2’s (1963 +) when they came to market and were woefully inadequate compared to other ATs of the same time period.

    • Andre

      I guess it depends on your definition of adequacy. Powerglides are still very popular – albeit not the cast iron versions like this C1 carries.

      https://youtu.be/u6d6NqYFm3A

  5. SC/RAMBLER

    The powerglide is a great transmission. They will take a lot of abuse, plus they take less horsepower to opperate. That is one reason they are used in drag racing.

    • johnfromct

      I doubt that many folks buy a 54 vette with six cyllinders to go drag racing. Respectfully, if you ever drove a c1 or c2 vette retrofitted with a 700r4 you would be able to relate better to both off the line acceleration and highway speed driveability that you can achieve in these cars.

  6. Clay Bryant

    Nothing turns heads like a early Corvette……………..

  7. Peter

    Has anyone got the price they are asking? “$55” is listed as a price but may mean $55K ???

  8. 86_Vette_Convertible

    One more thing is the egg crate grills over the headlights are missing.

  9. Henryfrederick

    A late friend of mine gave me a ride in his 54 around 10 yrs. Ago. An untouched original. The power and torque was very impressive.

  10. Tiger66

    Those “beefy, five-slot wheels” did first appear in ’67, but not “with the advent of disc brakes” as the discs debuted on the ’65 Corvettes.

  11. OhU8one2

    Slow with little go. These early Corvettes show the path to what has become a iconic American sports car. As far as I know, every Corvette has collector appeal. I’ve tried three times to purchase a Corvette but the deal has fallen apart at the end. I have my eye on a 63 splitwindow here in town,I’m just playing the waiting game. Owner bought car to restore for his wife, sadly she has passed on. Owner just can’t get himself to sell it. I make sure it’s still sitting in his garage now and then.

  12. roundhouse

    Those 5 slot wheels are the 8″ wide ones that first appeared in 1968, the 7″ in 1967. The cast iron powerglide is very, very heavy, compared to the aluminum one that came along in around 1960.

  13. Jerry

    The convertible top is also missing. The valve cover looks like an original but it painted the wrong color. I think this valve cover is the same as the passenger car. six cylinder corvette only engine parts are quite expensive. They include a unique oil pan, ignition shield, water pump, distributor, intake and exhaust manifold and carburetors. The transmission was also different from the other 54 chevys . The corvette had an open driveshaft.

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