Only Cosmetic Damage: 1954 Chevrolet Corvette

If you give it no more than a cursory glance, this 1954 Corvette is a really nice looking car. However, look a little longer and you can see some body and cosmetic damage that will need to be addressed. Its story is a sad one, but it could be a chance for someone else’s misfortune to be your good fortune. The Corvette is located in Levittown, Pennsylvania, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Spirited bidding has seen the price now reach $40,100, and the reserve has been met. The fact that the Corvette is being offered with a salvage title doesn’t appear to be deterring potential buyers. As well as the strong bidding, there are also 155 people who are watching the listing.

The story behind this Corvette is that it was one of a group of cars that were being stored in a warehouse. The roof of the warehouse collapsed, inflicting various levels of damage on all of the vehicles. The damage to the Corvette is only superficial, but rather than having each car assessed individually, the insurance company chose to class the entire collection as write-offs, and to pay the claim. That is an inconvenience in this case, as it is pretty clear from the supplied photos that this once immaculate Corvette has only relatively mild damage.

As you can see from the photos, the damage to the Polo White Corvette is confined to some damage to the body, along with the windshield and windshield frame itself. If you look past that, the car is in nice condition, and the owner says that it is clean underneath. The Corvette has a Beige top, and thankfully, it appears that this was down at the time of the accident. If this is right, that should mean that the top and frame will remain in good condition.

The interior of the Corvette remains unblemished following the collapse, and it does appear to be in good condition. There are no aftermarket additions, and it looks like there is little to do inside the car beyond attacking the carpets with a vacuum cleaner to pick up the few spots of dust and dirt that are visible.

Thankfully, the Corvette suffered no mechanical damage when the roof collapsed. Under the hood is the 235ci Blue Flame 6-cylinder engine, and the Powerglide transmission. It isn’t clear whether this is a numbers-matching car, but the under-hood presentation is extremely nice. The Corvette has now been given a thorough check and service and is said to drive very nicely.

In 1954, the Corvette was not the sales success that General Motors had been hoping for, and they struggled to sell 3,640 cars. In isolation, this could have spelled the death of the Corvette. However, with Ford’s release of the Thunderbird scheduled for 1955, Chevrolet did not want to be seen to back away from the model too easily. They are a car that was not a sales success when new but remains extremely desirable today. That would undoubtedly help to explain the strong interest that this one has generated. Are you willing to join the bidding party?


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  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    I’ve always wanted a ’53. Not for the looks but more because Corvette debuted in ’53 and so did I. And my top coat is getting white, just like the Corvette. I could have a lot of fun with one. And I would DRIVE it. As always when I see a price tag like this one I’m on the outside looking in. It would take a major change of luck to see me behind the wheel of this but you never know. Looks like the damage isn’t too much of a challenge. Fix the windshield and touch up the paint, and you’re ready for some good times.

    Like 11
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Saw a club members 54 for the other night. It’s amazing how it looks so crude and beautiful in it’s simplicity compared to newer ones.
    It was a 54 that started my love for Vettes. It was something I saw while recovering in 54. Funny how things like this can make such an impression on a kid.
    I have seen a couple of 53’s over the years, one of them if the story was true was a significant car. Thing that always got me was the size of the steering wheel, it was like the end of a barrel.

    Like 4
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    That’s a nice car.

    Like 4
  4. gbvette62

    Looking at the photos, I think the top frame is bent, and was probably up when the roof fell on it. Chances are that’s why the deck lid isn’t (or won’t?) close.

    A 53-55 windshield frame isn’t going to be easy to find, or cheap. I just spent 6 months trying to find just the lower windshield molding for a customer. The left side curtain’s not shown, so it was likely damaged and/or is missing.

    Damage may look superficial, but this is not going to be a cheap car to fix. I was recently quoted $3500 by Coffman Corvette Tops, to restore a 55 top frame. That frame wasn’t bent, and the price didn’t include $900 for new latches, $110 for weatherstrip, $1200 for new canvas, or the $1000+ labor to install the canvas!

    Buy the time you repair the top, find a windshield frame and side curtain, and paint the car, you’ll have another $20K in it, and you’ll still have a 54 with a SALVAGE TITLE. At the current bid, the only sensible thing to do with this car, is to build a restomod from it. If you want a restored 54, spend the same $60k on one that’s already done, and has a good title.

    Like 18
    • Redwagon

      Sound advice if all you suppose is true.

      Like 4
      • Mitch Ross Member

        The title is a piece of paper. If you want a 54 Corvette, rsther thsn an investment, it is just that

        Like 4
    • Alexco

      Gbvett, not sure who you are going through for your top parts but they are taking you. Just had my early 54 frame totally rebuilt including two new bows for $800 in Fresno, CA and he is the guy that furnishes all frames to the parts people, Corvette Central, ZIP, and Paragon. Stay fast top with all rubber for $2800. StayFast canvas $400. Your paying over double for latches. Windshield frame can be straighten or repaired and polished or chromed depending on which part for around $500-700. Not sure who your suppliers are but I would look around a little more.

      Like 4
      • gbvette62

        I was quoted $3500 to restore the frame by the company I believe is the best maker of Corvette top frames. My customer, a local restoration shop, ended up restoring it in house. I know the company you’re referring too, but don’t buy from them.

        53-55 front latches are $449 a pair, and $449 for rears. I use Al Knoch 53-55 tops because theirs are NCRS correct. I just had Knoch install a top on a 55 at Corvette Carlisle. The top was $1129, plus $84 for rear window dating, and $1000 labor. 53-55 tops have 4 pieces of rubber weatherstrip that sell for $67, and a mohair rear bow ws that’s $42.

        I agree that you may be able to straighten the windshield frame, but looking at the relationship between the right post and the side curtain, I suspect that the side posts are bent. They’re pot metal and can’t be straightened.

        We’ve been in the Corvette parts business for 40 years. I know everyone who makes parts, and deal with all of them.

        I’m glad you were able to get your frame repaired for $800, you did good! By the time they disassembled the frame, tapped holes, blasted, straightened, painted and reassembled the frame, the restoration shop had about 20 hours in it, plus materials.

        Like 2
  5. Sant Fe Steve

    How can you get past a salvage title to register a car in this condition? Thanks to gbvette62 for his insights.

    • Harry

      Since you’re trying to get a clean Pennsylvania title on this car:
      Do the repairs to an acceptable standard, then submit it for an “enhanced inspection”. It’s a bit of a process; keep every receipt, take snotloads of pictures, etc. but it’s not impossible by any means.

      Like 2
  6. George Mattar

    I live in Levittown. I am.going to check out this 54 and the others.

    Like 2
  7. DRV

    The top frame of the windshield has an understructure that is bent. I think with a new windshield ($344.00) it could be saved with minor marks on the top rail stainless.
    The expensive stuff is done well already.

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