First Year: 1953 Corvette Project

1953 Corvette Project

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UPDATE 1/18/12 – The listing ended without any bids. Perhaps the seller should consider a more realistic asking price?

Since we just featured a trio of muscle car convertible projects that you would have to be crazy to buy, we thought one last one couldn’t hurt. This is the rarest of them all though. This is a 1953 Corvette and only about 225 are known to still exist today. This project is going to take even more work then the previous ones and will cost a whole heck of a lot more money. Take a look at it here on eBay. Price of entry is $95,000.

1953 Corvette Front

1953 was the first year of production for the now famous Corvette. All ’53 cars came in Polo White with a red interior and black top. The first few were assembled by hand, but the rest were built at the factory in St. Louis. This would be one of the cars built at the factory, but it is still very special because it is such an early example.

1953 Corvette Rear

The cost of restoration is going to be breathtaking. The fiberglass body is in very rough condition and has obviously been abused by a few of its previous owners. This is the first time #124 has come to market since 1975.

1953 Corvette Frame

Luckily the frame looks very solid and the suspension is all complete. Some parts are missing, but the numbers do match up. The rear end is not correct and the wheels are not included. An automatic transmission is included though.

1953 Corvette Blue Flame Engine

Even though the Corvette is now famous for its pushrod V8, the first cars were not so lucky. Since Chevy’s small block V8 was not released until 1955, Corvette engineers were forced to fit an inline-six. It was called the Blue Flame and it was only good for about 150 horsepower with its triple side-draft carburetors. Sadly this car does not include its original engine. The seller mentions that a past owner had someone re-stamp the block to make it appear to be numbers matching. Sounds a little fishy, but at least they are upfront about it. It does include the 1953 only head though. Makes you wonder where the car is that belongs to this engine.

1953 Corvette Body And Frame

This is a significant Corvette that deserves to be restored, but we strongly encourage that you do your due diligence here. Inspect the car in person and if you are not an expert, then hire an expert to make sure everything is legitimate. The number change on the block throws up a few flags, so precede with caution. That said, we hope that everything checks out and that this Vette makes it back to the road soon.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. John Schultea

    Wow !! Now, if I had the money, I would DEFINITELY do a complete restoration on this baby !!!

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  2. Sean Bush

    Once again, without a numbers-matching matching drivetrain, the restoration cost will far exceed it’s value. The owner needs to lop-off one of those zero’s and move the decimal point one digit to the left on his BIN price.

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  3. Richard

    The only Chevy V8 in existence before 1953 was sold for only a couple of years some time in the 1910s. As I recall, that V8 royally stunk up the joint. It was all Stovebolt-6s from that point forward until the debut of the V8 we all know and love in *1955*, two years AFTER this car was built. The 1953-1954 Corvette didn’t get a V8 because Chevy didn’t have one to install, not because the powers-that-be didn’t want to install it in the first place.

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    • Michael RogersMember

      Actually, I HAVE a 265 V8 with a 54 code–they started making them before 55 for the 55’s. Still too new for that project since it is doomed to become a trailer queen.

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  4. Dave Wooldridge

    I’d have to do a LOT of research on this one, but $95K PLUS cost of resto…I’d have to pass.

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  5. Robin H.

    Thank’s Richard, you beat me to it. As a matter of fact the V8 in 55 and a redesign in 56 saved Corvette production from being scrapped due to poor sales.

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  6. Tony
  7. J. Pickett

    You’re right Robin, they only made 300 in 53 and had a hard time selling them. The 55 v8 and 4 spd in 57 and a man named Duntov, saved the Corvette from being a footnote. A fifties Reatta.

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  8. Foxy

    When I was young there was one of these that set in a field beside this house, it was on one of the roads that got a lot of traffic, and I would pass through there quite a bit. It looked to be in bad shape. At one time it had a tarp over it, but it rotted or just blew off over the years. I tried a couple times asking the guy about it but he would not even talk about it and would not let me with in 100 ft of it. The story on the car is the old guy bought it for his wife brand new, somehow she died in it, or after a wreck in it. he parked it there in the field. Year after year it sat there and got worse and worse. I went into the AF and was gone for 10 years. When I got back it was still there but it had moved and a new house had been built. I tried again to talk to someone about it and was turned away, that time it looked like this car you have up now. after another 10 years went by it was gone. I don’t know if the guy died or what, but someone got it. I would guess from the damp area where it sat that the frame was gone. Every time I see one of these I think about that car, and how it could have been if I could of talked him out of it 25 years before. just dreamin, but a true story. I should have taken pics, but I was livin life in the fast lane and didn’t think about reserving history just living it.

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  9. Gary Fogg

    Foxy, was the one your talking about in Bangor Maine ? Because there was a deal like that going on here back in the 70’s and 80’s with a guy that had 3 vettes, then scattered them all over the place, but the earliest one stayed stashed behind his house until there wasn’t much left !

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  10. DolphinMember

    The Sports Car Market Price Guide price range for one of these in #2 condition (=cosmetic imperfections but otherwise perfect) is $125K to $225K.Lets see. It’s in real bad shape—worse than just “cosmetic imperfections” I would think, and that’s just for the part that’s there, because most of it isn’t there, and some of what is there is not actually from the car the guy says he’s selling. And the SCM Price Guide says the prices for these cars have declined 13% in the last year. I guess that makes this thing worth about……..a lot LESS than the ’57 C1 from the other day. Could it be that’s why there’s no bids with a $95K entry fee and 1 day left?

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  11. Kevin


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  12. Bob

    Forget this junk, I want to see what these guy’s do after they get so called $95 thou…now that’s a story !

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  13. Foxy

    @ Gary, the car was in Clarksburg WV. I first saw it when I was a kid. I had an uncle that lived on the same road. I was always calling out cars names when I was growing up. I knew about all the big ones when I was 5 they said. I as what the corvette was

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  14. TomW

    I think that its amazing that after 60 years 225 of the 300 are accounted for. This one isnt for the faint of heart or pocketbook.

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  15. Chris H.

    “Jesus loves you”, now there’s an unfair selling tool!

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  16. Gary Fogg

    @Foxy, That sounds just like the guy here in Bangor acted about his Corvettes, I first spotted them as a passenger that eyed all the cars and prided myself in knowing what every one was, my dad said I had a “swivel head an eagle eye” [ although he never c

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  17. Rhonda Nole

    I restored a 1956 Corvette which had all the parts except the teeth and exhause chrome. Exhaust chrome was not available most of the time I was restoring it and I was on a waiting list for the chrome to be reproduced. These Vettes with limited production can be hard to find parts for as there is no or little demand. Half the fun of restoring the car was finding the parts. I needed reproduction fender scoops which were not being reproduced and I was told if I found them they would be $350.00 each. Ha..found them in two hours to the tune of $50.00 each. This car is going to cost a phenominal amount to restore so whoever wins the bid better have a boatload of money after the car is purchased. It will be well worth it!

    Like 1
  18. Foxy

    @ Gary, That is a great vette story. I don’t know for sure that he did not have any other cars at all. He drove a pick up. The story I heard about it was that he had bought it for his wife brand new, and for some reason she passed, but not from a wreck. H

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  19. Barn Finds

    We corrected the paragraph about the V8. The small block wasn’t out until 1955. We can all learn something new everyday! Thanks for catching that.

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  20. joe t

    it’d be cheaper to buy a time machine

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  21. Will

    Since the numbers aren’t really matching it would be nice to see this restored as an actual driver. An expensive driver yes but one you could at least drive without feeling guilty.

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  22. DolphinMember

    Update: Auction ended with no bids

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  23. J. Pickett

    How surprising.

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  24. Rhonda Nole

    @ Foxy…I don’t get that either. I know where there are two 57 two door hardtops rotting away and the owners would not consider selling them. They will be junk and not worth anything at some point.

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  25. Ed

    Can anyone recommend a good Corvette restoration book? Planning to restore my wife’s 77. It’s been sitting in my sons garage for 2 years. It was running before that.

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  26. Brian S. Fischer

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned this. If this is a ’53 and ’53s only came in Polo White then why is the original paint (visible even on the undersides of the floorboards) Pennant Blue? If the past owner went through the trouble of restamping the block to look like a ’53 casting I think they were trying to fake this whole thing. It’s a fraud!

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  27. jimmie roan

    that color was available in 1954 and might have been a production date error on the part of someone,ie, as today the next year model is built this year. also on the restamp, it is possible the guy is guessing unless he had absolute proof, one thing most all of us old car guys know is stamped numbers for years were random with most of not all not lining up. lots of pictures and articles of the early corvette show how stamped numbers are even different sizes and at best only a few of the digits lined up.

    Like 0

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