Video: Lew Stitely’s 1953 ‘Tijuana Taxi’ Corvette

Sometimes it’s funny the way things work out, isn’t it? Every so often we hear the tale of somebody who bought some dilapidated car to use as a parts donor, only to keep it, and sell whatever it was they were working on in the first place.

Such is the case with Lew Stitely’s ’53 Corvette. Purchased as a parts car way back in 1974 for his ’54 and ’55 Corvettes, it wasn’t too long before Lew decided to keep the aforementioned C1 for himself as a race car, selling off the other two.

Dubbed the “Tijuana Taxi,” Lew has been campaigning the Vette in drag racing competitions ever since. But this wasn’t when Stitely’s racing career started, and his professional track days date as far back when he was running a ’61 Ford Falcon with a 260 cube small block Ford.

So how did the ’53 end up in Lew’s possession in the first place? Apparently, the original owner raced it himself all the way up to 1958, where he then sold it to another man from Tennessee.

The guy from Tennessee immediately put it in storage, until 1974 when Stitely bought it. The Blue Flame-6 is long gone, and the Corvette utilizes a 393 CI Chevy small-block these days, that, as you can see from the video, is good for mid 9-second passes in the quarter-mile.

While some purists might not fully agree with the way this ’53 spends it’s time these days, they can’t dispute the fact that this car has been saved from the crusher. Had it not been for Stitley wanting to keep it around as a racer, and not parting it out, this C1 would have come back as someone’s lawn chair.

9.49 at 139.72 MPH. Not too shabby for a car that was originally equipped with a 135 HP 6-cylinder.

About the author

Rick Seitz

Being into cars at a very early age, Rick has always preferred GM performance cars, and today's LS series engines just sealed the deal. When he's not busy running errands around town in his CTS-V, you can find him in the garage wrenching on his WS6 Trans Am, or at the local cruise spots in his Grand National.
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