Last On the Road in ’65: 1954 Chevy Corvette

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

“I know what I’ve got.” Sometimes, the seller can say this without fear of repraisal. A numbers-matching, apparently survivor-grade 1954 Corvette is one such vehicle where some level of seller swagger is to be expected. Regardless, the approach to selling this car – soliciting best offers – is usually a gigantic waste of time, so hopefully one you will check it out here on craigslist and simply drive out to Philadelphia with enough cash in hand to end it. Should the link stop working, go here if the ad disappears.

As a 1954 model, sales were still pretty slow considering the lukewarm response to the Corvette’s six-cylinder and Powerglide combination. That may make this car an extra does of rare, since less than 4,000 were sold. I’m not sure what color this is, as it looks too dark to be Sportsman Red, but perhaps it’s just a bad repaint. The chrome looks tired but treatable, and the headlight covers are a styling trend I’m glad we’ve left behind.

Most Corvettes this year had a red interior, and this car’s is holding up decently considering it’s likely been in long-term storage. With the top down, I wonder if the soft top has worked any time recently. Seams on the driver’s seat are split, and the detrius around the interior reminds me of the chewed-up pieces of scraps that mice tend to leave behind. The seller notes this C1 was last on the road in 1965, so just over a decade of use before being parked.

That’s a short love affair, but it had to have been maintained in that time. The seller claims the motor still runs, which is impressive considering the Corvette hasn’t been roadworthy in decades. Speaking of which, how do you approach a car like this? The battle scars and patina are well worth preserving, in my opinion, but these cars also do well value-wise when in top condition. How would you tackle it?

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Comments

  1. RoKo

    “I know what I have” usually means the seller knows what they go for in mint condition, but has no idea at the amount of money and time required to get there.




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    • ACZ

      He knows that he has a money pit. To do a complete resto on a 54 is an automatic upside-down situation. The demand for these is not like a mid-year.




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  2. Henry Drake

    “I know what I’ve got”?

    Maybe take it out and clean it up first before putting up for sale? What’s another few days? Just a thought.




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  3. Scott Tait

    “I know what i have got”
    Usually is a veiled excuse to try get more money … a money pit vs a mouse toilet comes to mind!




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  4. Ian McLennan

    It’s clearly a beautiful example of a rare car. Why not show some respect for the car and the potential buyers by spending a buck fifty on some soap and water?




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  5. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    My take is different……

    – Sellers leave the dust and dirt on, at least until they can take a few photos showing the car’s as-found condition. That helps to support the claim that the car has been sitting for a long while—claimed since 1965 in this case—and therefore is a ‘find’. Then the car can be washed and cleaned up to show that it can be cleaned up to look good.

    – What does annoy me about this CL listing is the YELLING and the exclamation!!! points!!! throughout!!!. You have to really want this car to wade through all that annoying cra… I mean, that over-emphasis.

    – This C1 does look like it has been sitting with low miles for decades, so that’s a plus. But the paint is done, unless your threshold for ‘survivor’ is pretty low. And I would definitely want to be sure that burgundy paint actually is an original factory paint color before I tried to save it. Googling ‘1954 Corvette factory paint colors’ shows two possibilities that could have been the original color of this car: Morocco red and Rosemary red, so maybe the paint is original.

    – The asking is $35K in the listing, which isn’t outrageous if what you want as a starting point is a barn find original car that to me looks neglected but not molested. The new SCM Guide says that recent good / excellent 1954 C1s have sold at auction for a median price of $77K, so maybe you can get there from here.




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  6. mikethetractorguy
    • Brian Gould

      Wow. I don’t think the reddish find could be brought anywhere near the quality of this Seattle car for only another $43G.




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    • Jamie Shannon

      I would rather pay the $78G for the completed one and spend the time driving it that would otherwise be taken up fixing this one. Especially since with such a high purchase price there is no way this one could be brought to the same level without spending much more than its worth.




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    • Mountainwoodie

      Somehow I doubt at a 35 K buy in you could replicate this Seattle car for 40 grand………..but hey I know less day in day out!




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  7. Tony Pagano

    Asking price of $35,000. Hagerty says a “fair” condition ’54 Vette is valued at ~$40,000. BTW, I recognized the location from the pictures, and the seller is C&C Auto Sales in Riverside, NJ.

    https://www.ccautosales.com/1954_Chevrolet_Corvette_Riverside_NJ_270282965.veh




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    • Alan (Michigan)

      Thanks for locating the business seller. My take on the CL ad was that the lister was a bit of an eccentric business owner, and spends time searching for memorabilia as well as cars. The ad indicates to me that this is the best “find” to come along in quite a while……




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    • gbvette62

      You’re right, that is the same car. If the asking price is $35,000, then it has come down quite a bit. A friend of mine was interested in the car a few months ago, and had sent me pictures of it. The price he told me was a lot higher, and I told him it was way out of line. I think the price is still too high.

      Like most 54’s, this car was originally Polo White, with a red interior. Sportsman Red is a bright red, not a maroon, and if it was originally Sportsman Red, it would have had a beige interior.

      I’m not sure how this car could be called “numbers matching”. Besides the fact that it’s been repainted an non original color, there really are no numbers to match on 54’s. The block does not have a VIN stamp on it, and there is no trim tag, to identify the original colors.

      From the pictures I saw, it appears to be a fairly complete and solid 54 project. It is missing the air cleaners, and ignition shielding, and I’m not sure it has the correct valve cover. From what I understand, a few other (expensive) parts may be missing too. Unfortunately, 54’s just don’t command big money. Unlike 53’s and 55’s, that regularly sell for over $200,000, perfectly restored 54’s, rarely sell for more than the mid $70K range. It would be hard to restore that car for $40,000, so at $35,000, it makes more sense to buy a car that’s already restored.




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    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Well, the ad says that he’s taking offers. So even if you offer 35K, it doesn’t mean he will sell it for that.




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  8. ACZ

    A car is only worth what someone will pay for it. No book can predict that.




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    • Glen

      You’re right, however, predicted values are usually based on previously realized sale prices.




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      • ACZ

        But sellers just look at the price another one went for, not the condition it was in.




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      • Loco Mikado

        I used to sell stuff on Ebay 15 years ago and I never got the high previously realized sale prices on 95% of my sales in which my items were as in as good or better condition than the identical item. The only thing I have ever sold and got more than the listed price was my house I sold 2 years ago.




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  9. Bob Baird

    If this car could become an NCRS “Bowtie” car, which is their stricter equivalent of a “survivor,” then it should be carefully cleaned and preserved so that others restoring ones like it can use this as a model.

    Jeff, that cover over the headlights was to keep things off the track from flying up and breaking the headlights during a race. That’s why you see masking tape over all the headlights in historic racing pics.




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    • gbvette62

      I’m an NCRS judge, and I’m sorry but I don’t see that car being a Bow Tie candidate. It’s been repainted, the interior is apart and in bad shape, and under the hood, a number of parts are missing or have been changed. To be considered for a 1 to 5 Star Bow Tie, a very high percentage of the car needs to be original and unmolested, something that this car does not appear to be.




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      • Pa Tina

        What Level? I’m guessing “Master”. I’m Level 9. Haven’t judged in a long time.




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      • Pa Tina

        Asked about your judging level earlier but that apparently offended one of the hall monitors. How long have you been in NCRS? I joined in 1990. Haven’t done any judging in a long time.




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  10. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    gbvette62

    As you are a NCRS judge you will know about the color issue. The websites I saw say that in ’54, 100 cars were painted Sportsman Red, and that the interior color choices included ‘Red vinyl’. Also that the body and interior colors are not coded to individual cars.

    The badly crazed red looks like it has been applied over original white paint, possibly to match the red vinyl interior. But do you think the red vinyl is original in this car?




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    • gbvette62

      You’re right, Sportsman Red came with a red interior, not beige as I previously stated. I got 54 and 55 mixed up. 55’s Gypsy Red came with a beige interior, not 54’s Sportsman. I deal in Corvette parts and just sold a beige 55 interior to a customer last week, which had me thinking the reds came with beige interiors.

      There were 4 colors offered in 54, Polo White, Sportsman Red, Black and Pennant Blue. Only Pennant Blue came with a beige interior, all the other 54 interiors came with a red interior. All 54’s came with a beige soft top and top frame, regardless of the exterior color.

      Yes, I was told that it originally was a Polo White car, that the current maroon color was shot directly over, apparently without much prep work first.




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  11. JimmyJ

    You would have to be a die hard vette fan to want the 6cyl powerglide because although not as rare the later v8 stick is a way better looking car and that’s where I’d spend my money
    Plus the capital lettering turns me off ,seller probably is a douche. If u know what u have and we know what u have there’s no need for bold,capital lettering!




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  12. joeinthousandoaks

    I have long had a Corvette Theory. Don’t buy any ending in 4 (54, 64,74,84)
    Somehow, for their own reasons, they each have a reason to be much less desirable than the car a year older or newer.




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    • john

      Wait a second… Are you also adverse to the ’74 Cadillac Eldorado? I think that’s a cool looking automobiole…




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  13. Jim

    “I know what I have.” ………..Ugh! Clearly you don’t from the that statement
    I really want to start a blog page of stupid and overused Craigslist lines and then define them.

    Definition- I looked on Ebay and have some ‘buy it now’ prices stuck in my head, and it’s a Corvette, and it’s old so….. This guy is waiting for that affluent emotional purchaser that will throw caution and common sense to the wind.

    Therefore I am so convinced I made a purchase for the ages that normal rules of economics and sensibility will not apply.

    Good day sir……….good day.




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  14. gaspumpchas

    Hope this finds a good home.The guy could have cleaned it up after showing the as found condition.Hopefully a deal can be made that will make everyone happy! I tend to make my own conclusions and take my time when evaluating a deal.sometimes you gotta swallow some dirt in the process. Remember, when dealing with a tough seller and you really want the item,once you make the deal that’s it. You don’t have to like the guy.




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  15. RicK

    Wow look, finally a car on BF that looks like a Barn Find.




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  16. Marco

    What he’s got is a dirty, rotten, forgotten, neglected mess that he thinks is going to fetch top dollar from some poor fool.




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  17. Mark

    Let’s not be too hard on the owner for pointing out he knows what he has……I don’t blame him. For every 1 guy that makes that claim there are 10 buyers who think they are going to get a steal.
    When you sell on Craigslist you have to weed out the low-ballers from the get-go.




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  18. steve kane

    Damn shame he let it go to hell like that in storage. With just basic storage moves it could have been a shining example. Steve




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  19. Cmarv Member

    I’d rather have the Hemi IH Metro van .




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  20. jackthemailman

    Arrrrrrgh! C’mon, guys! “Repraisal?” Try “reproval.” “Adverse?” No, you mean “averse.” It’s your native language (at least for 99% of us)! Learn it! I’m clicking the “notify” square so I can read all of you excoriate me. Feel free.




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    • Mountainwoodie

      While I too am averse to poor syntax, spelling and the misuse of words both mispelled and spelled properly, many folks type answers on their smart phone and it is easy to mistype..For others English is their second language and they may live in ‘lorthules”…..to coin a phrase of another unducated. poorly spoken nitwit.




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  21. JW

    Who parks a car in their garage / barn for decades with the top & windows down ??? I roll up our windows on our Mach1 every time I pull it in to our garage because I have no idea how long it will be sitting in there and it’s climate controlled.




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  22. chad

    “…BTW, I recognized the location from the pictures, and the seller is C&C Auto Sales in Riverside, NJ…”

    I like lookin at this ol cr^p. Gives me…dreams? nitemares?:
    “Some ol doc at Rancocos Hospital owned this. (The area died) Hosp died, he just died, the local got a call to haul it away. He knows what e’s got! The kids in Cali just want the house sold & garage cleaned.”

    Every vehicle has a story (even if only made up in my mind…
    Wish I knew the real 1 w/this lill guy.




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  23. Gene

    option1 : Leave the ‘54 Vette as is .. and do not restore it !
    option 2: Make it road worthy and enjoy it !
    option 3: Add a ton of $ into it and make it a trailer queen !
    which one would you choose ? ? ?




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    • JW

      Option #2




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    • Myron Hornschwage

      Option 1. Then make a deal for the one in Seattle. That’s a better purchase .




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  24. starsailing

    Back in 1968, I was T boned in my 58 Impala by a Mustang going through a red light. Whole passenger door pushed in about 6 inches…The 348 ran fine though. Power glide was new from local tranny speed shop. Guy at school had a 58 convertible with shot engine…he also had a white 54 Corvette with the 6 cylinder removed. he wanted to trade the Vette for my wrecked 58 because he wanted my 348… Mom went nuts saying no to the Corvette as I would take up garage space putting an engine in it. I ended up getting $250 from the guy for my 58. Had to settle for a..Roman Red 61 Chev Bel Air Bubble top! Year later stuck a 348 in that in one day before mom came home from work to complain. Legendary times in the 61…The only drawback of the Vette would have been parking at the lakes, the river road…and drive in movies….with my high school girlfriend.




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  25. charlie

    Having owned one in the late 60’s, which was a daily driver for a year or so, but could not leave it anywhere on the street in the city for fear of it, or parts, being stolen (bought a “spinner” wheel cover back from local chop shop – was “stolen” off the car while parked in the parking lot next door, knew it was mine because I had tattooed the last 4 digits of the VIN on the inside – but it was Waterbury CT and enough of the cops were dirty that spending $ and keeping my mouth shut was the wisest course of action) this is NOT a great sports car, NOT a great car for carrying much more than 2 people and groceries, uncomfortable, drafty, if you are over 5’8″ your eyes are on a level with the top of the windshield, so top up you have to crunch over, top down, goggles or wrap around sunglasses, for its day fast, but not as fast as a ’54 Olds, front heavy with the 6, slushy with the two speed Powerglide, if you run the exhaust pipes straight through the rear bumper as designed, exhaust comes up over the rear deck and kills you (Chevy fixed it by making the pipes that come through the bumper fakes and dumping the exhaust below) and, as the 40’s cars have peaked in value, this will soon, so not a great investment. And the red is all wrong. Can’t think of any good reason to buy this one.




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  26. Maestro1

    The Selle ris absurd and arrogant. Don’t do business here.




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