Car Feature: Low Mileage 1954 Corvette Roadster
Our friends at Auctions America clued us in on an extremely rare find. Getting ready to cross their auction block in March is a 1954 Corvette finished in the classic combination of Polo White with a sportsman red interior.
Details on this one-of-a-kind example are well documented by the car’s long-term, collector owner. Starting with just 1,370 original miles – yes, we said original miles. That’s just under 23-miles a year for the past 60-years! The thing we find most amazing about this car is the fact that someone could own it and not put more than 23-miles on it in a given year. This car is 100% original as well. There hasn’t been a frame off restoration job or anything like that. Absolutely nothing has been touched. This car is a time capsule!
Powered by a Blue Flame 235ci, 150-hp inline six-cylinder engine with three carburetors. The Corvette Blue Flame six was a dependable Chevy’s mainstay for years.The Corvette powertrain engineers upped the power from a modest 115 to 150 with the use of a high-lift cam, increased compression, three Carter side-draft carbs, and dual exhausts. With dual valve springs, the engine redline was increased to 5,000 rpm for this model year.
This powerplant is paired with a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. Additionally, the car is fitted with a signal-seeking radio, parking brake, courtesy lights and heater. The red steel wheels have factory hubcaps and wide whitewall tires, making for a correct presentation. The 1954 Corvette handled well for its time, thanks to a low center of gravity and an almost 50/50 weight distribution. Early product testing showed a slight oversteer, which Mr. Duntov solved by limiting rear spring travel and increasing the size of the anti-roll stabilizer bar. The weakest points in the handling area were the 6.70×15 bias-ply tires.
This beautiful original represents one of only 3,640 Corvettes built in the 1954 model year.
About The Early Corvette Roadsters
From the very beginning the Chevrolet Corvette was special in every respect. In design and construction it differed from all other models and did not even bear the traditional Chevrolet bow tie. Originally designed as a show car for the 1953 Motorama display at the New York Auto Show, it generated enough interest to induce GM to make a production version to sell to the public. To keep costs down, GM executive Robert F. McLean mandated off-the-shelf mechanical components, and used the chassis and suspension from the 1952 Chevy sedan.
Harley Earl was the moving force behind the sensational new Corvette with the assistance of Bob McLean, Maurice Olley and Ed Cole. Shortly before production began the great Zora Arkus Duntov, who would guide Chevrolet’s new sports car to legendary status, joined the team.
The drivetrain and passenger compartment were moved rearward to achieve a 53/47 front-to-rear weight distribution. The engine was the same inline six that powered all other Chevrolet models, but with a higher-compression ratio and a more aggressive cam. Output was 150 horsepower. Because there was currently no manual transmission available to Chevrolet rated to handle 150 HP, a two-speed Powerglide automatic was used. 0-60 mph time was 11.5 seconds.
To keep tooling costs in line, the body was made out of fiberglass instead of steel. First production was on June 30, 1953. The GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) body was molded into a shape more akin to a European styling house than an American automaker and is still appreciated today for its sensuous form.
The new white sports car rolled off the assembly line a scant five months after its debut. Corvettes were also assembled in a very different manner. They were built by small groups of technicians, rather than on an assembly line. The fiberglass bodies were virtually handmade and did not carry Fisher Body Style numbers like all the other GM models.
Although conceived to be assembled from production GM parts and refitted with a steel body, the Corvette continued to evolve in its original form in 1954. Minor changes that year included a different window storage bag, air cleaners, starter and rerouting of the fuel and brake lines. Additionally, a wider array of colors was available to buyers.
This 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster is projected to sell at auction between $100,000 to $125,000. In 1954, the Corvette Roadster sold for $2,774.
1954 Corvette Roadster Specs:
- Conceived by GM design chief Harley Earl
- Available in four exterior and two interior colors
- Available only with automatic transmission
- Roll-up windows not available
- Corvette received its name from Myron Scott, a GM photographer
- Number built: 3,640
- Construction: Body-on-frame
- Engine: 235 cubic-inch, straight six-cylinder engine
- Power/Torque: 235 cubic-inch straight six, 150 horsepower, 223 lb-ft torque
- Transmission: Two-speed automatic Powerglide
- Suspension front: Independent with upper and lower A-arms, unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, and anti-roll bar
- Suspension rear: Live axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs
- Steering: Worm and sector steering gear
- Brakes: 11-inch front and rear drum
- Length/width/height – 167.0/72.2/52.1 inches
- Wheelbase: 102 inches
- Weight: 2,850 lbs.
- 0-60mph/quarter mile: 11.0 seconds, 18.6 seconds at 76 mph (Road and Track, June 1954)
- Top speed: 108 mph
- MPG: 12 – 16 mpg est.
- Price: MSRP – $2,774
The 1954 Corvette was complex, as no domestic manufacturer had ever tried to produce a sports car in mass quantity before this. While Chevy used many “off the shelf” parts, and the six-cylinder and auto trans deterred early buyers, the Corvette emerged to be a symbol of American ingenuity. The stage was set for Corvette to become a world-class performance sports car.
Where This Car Can Be Seen and Purchased
Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale collector car auction always features something for everyone and the 2014 event will continue the tradition. Well-established as South Florida’s premier collector car auction, the sale will feature approximately 450 American and European classics and sports cars, Detroit muscle, hot rods and customs that cater to a broad range of automotive tastes and budgets.
The Fort Laurderdale event, March 14-16, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center is open to the public for a day rate of $10 or a weekend pass of $25. Children 12 and under will receive free admission. For those unable to attend the event in person, Auctions America offers a broad range of remote bidding options including Internet, absentee and telephone bidding, and the auction will stream live online at auctionsamerica.com, providing real-time coverage of the event.
Limited consignment opportunities remain for Auctions America’s 2014 Fort Lauderdale collector car auction. For further information, to speak with an Auctions America car specialist, and to view a frequently updated list of entries, please visit auctionsamerica.com or call toll free 877-906-2437.
About Auctions America
Formed in July 2010, Auctions America specializes in the sale of American classics, European sports cars, Detroit muscle, hot rods and customs. Headquartered at the historic Auburn Auction Park in Indiana, Auctions America boasts an expert team of full-time vehicle specialists, who offer over 140 years of combined experience buying, selling, racing and restoring collector vehicles, making them uniquely qualified to advise on all aspects of the hobby. The company’s established roster of annual events are held in some of the country’s leading automotive destinations including Auburn, Indiana; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Burbank, California. To learn more about Auctions America, visit auctionsamerica.com