1954 Chevrolet Corvette
Chassis no. 0792086F54YG
235ci OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
3 Carter Carburetors
150bhp at 4200rpm
2-Speed Powerglide Automatic Transmission
Front Independent Suspension - Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
*Recent paint job to high standards
*Completely overhauled engine and transmission
*Iconic Harley Earl design
*First year of production at the St. Louis plant
The Chevrolet Corvette
The sports car boom was in full swing by the early 1950s, fueled by the desire of American GIs returning from WWII who wanted something like the lithe Jaguars and MGs they had seen overseas. American manufacturers like Chevrolet therefore felt pressure to introduce a competing model. Introduced in 1953 at the Autorama display of the New York Auto Show, the Harley Earl-designed Corvette started life as a comfortable, leisurely six-cylinder boulevard cruiser. It was built with a fiberglass body over a Chevrolet sedan powertrain and chassis. However, thanks to its more pedestrian underpinnings, the Corvette was available at an accessible price, and a strong dealer network meant that buyers would not have to endure long waits for British or Italian parts to come from overseas. For 1954, production was moved to the St. Louis plant in expectation of high demand. The overhead valve 235ci Blue Flame Sixengine, which already had dual exhausts and solid lifters for performance, was upgraded with triple Carter carburetors and a new camshaft for increased power. Unfortunately, sales were still below expectations, and only 3640 were built for that year, nearly resulting in the Corvette's demise.
Luckily for the Corvette, there was a second chance. Thanks to the introduction of the Thunderbird, the Chevrolet 265ci V8, and Zora Arkus-Duntov's influence, the very first Corvettes did not fade away. Instead, the new V8-powered Corvette was sent back into battle in 1955, making these earlier cars the genus of what is arguably the most popular American sports car. The clean styling of the early cars represents some of Harley Earl's best work, and surely stood out on Main Street USA when parked next to a contemporary Bel Air or Plymouth Cranbrook!
The Motorcar Offered
Built in the second year of Corvette production, this numbers-matching car is fully optioned and comes with an unrestored aftermarket hardtop. It is also one of about 200 to be optioned with a white steering wheel instead of the more common red. This original California car has had recent major work: The body has been newly refinished in the popular Polo White color, the engine and transmission have been overhauled, and the radiator, starter and battery have been replaced. The radio has been restored by a specialist. As such, it's ready for show or an evening on the town.
While Chevrolet intended the Corvette as competition for MGs, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, and other similar cars, perhaps it is more appropriate to compare it to the fiberglass-bodied specials of the period. And in that comparison, the Corvette clearly comes out ahead as the better, more thoroughly-engineered solution to the question of how to get European sports-car performance with American parts availability and ease of maintenance. The bonuses are a fully-designed dashboard, carpeting and interior trim, a functioning top, and readily available parts. Here is a great example waiting for its next keeper.