1954 Chevrolet Corvette VIN E54S004400
Spearheaded by General Motors’ legendary styling director Harley Earl and brought to fruition under guidance of Chevrolet general manager Thomas Keating, the Corvette marks Chevrolet’s first foray into the fast-growing and potentially lucrative youth market of the 1950s. Inspired in many key respects by Europe’s small and nimble sports cars, the Corvette was a daring experiment in all-fiberglass body construction with Motorama-inspired “dream car” design cues. Launched to great acclaim at New York in early 1953, the Corvette saw production of just 300 cars that year – all finished in Polo White over red vinyl. Another 3,640 followed for 1954 with subtle yet welcome detail refinements, four available paint colors, and red or beige vinyl upholstery. During 1954 Corvette production, the robust 235ci “Blue Flame Six” powerplant was uprated to 155 horsepower with a new camshaft profile, yet still advertised at 150 horsepower, and the original bullet-type air filters gave way to an improved design with lower intake noise.
The 1954 Corvettes were the first to be produced at a purpose-built plant in St. Louis, Missouri, designed for 10,000 cars annually – a number that would take until 1960 to achieve. While the earliest Corvettes of 1953-54 had not yet been developed by newly hired Zora Arkus-Duntov and Chevrolet engineers into the world-beating high-performance cars they would soon become, their beauty, elegance and significance are simply unmatched. These virtues, coupled with their rarity and historic status, has rendered them among the most sought-after Corvettes of all among today’s collectors. Accordingly, this handsome first-generation example from 1954 is a must-have for any knowledgeable collector of America’s only true production sports car.
Of the 3,640 Corvettes produced for 1954, just 300 are estimated by marque authorities to have been produced with a Pennant Blue paint finish. The product of a frame-off restoration, this striking Pennant Blue 1954 Chevrolet Corvette also features a correct Beige interior, trimmed in correct square-weave carpeting and upgraded leather upholstery. A “Wonderbar” signal-seeking AM radio – standard on all 1954 Corvettes – is in place. Car number 3400 of the 3,640 produced, this example was built with the later-production air filters, hotter cam, and updated cylinder head – all good for an additional 5 horsepower for 155 total.
The “Blue Flame Six” engine bears the correctly stamped “YG” suffix. Properly finished and detailed throughout and features a correct chrome plated rocker cover, coolant header tank, and exhaust heat shield, plus correct labels. The cylinder head bears the correct casting number (3836241), and the triple Carter ‘YH’ single-barrel carburetors bear the correct “2066 SA” screw-on brass tags. Correct Beige side curtains are stowed inside a correct tan storage packet. Red painted steel wheels, full wheel covers, period style whitewall tires, and a correct Beige convertible top finish this handsome and historic 1954 Chevrolet Corvette off nicely.
Interestingly, in addition to the original and correct GM VIN tag located on the driver’s side door post, this 1954 Corvette bears a European Export homologation tag underhood – with data fields headed in German – plus an additional VIN-stamped I.D. tag welded to the right-side frame member, indicating the Corvette was exported to Europe earlier in its lifetime. According to the C1 Corvette Registry listing for this Corvette, it was “…located in Germany, then shipped to the USA in 2005. Restoration completed December 2010.” Highly desirable California “Black” registration plates are presently mounted to the Corvette.
A true sporting icon with select improvements, the 1954 Corvette is historically significant as the car that encouraged Chevrolet and GM brass to give the car time for further development – a tradition that continues uninterrupted and with great success today. With limited post-restoration use and looking great overall, this example is handsomely and correctly presented, ready to be enjoyed and appreciated as originally intended.