19-20 January 2017

Offered from a Private Collection

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Lot 236

1954 Chevrolet Corvette

  • Chassis no. E54S001388

Sold for $71,500

150 bhp, 235.5 cu. in. OHV inline six-cylinder engine, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

  • Offered from a private collection
  • Second year of “America’s Sportscar”
  • Formerly of the Jim Rogers collection
  • Only 37,000 miles, believed original
  • Rare Sportsman Red

Chevrolet’s Corvette was the hit of the 1953 Motorama, General Motors’ traveling exposition of new models. Rushed to production by 30 June, it was based on a passenger car chassis, complete with Blue Flame six-cylinder engine and a two-speed Powerglide transmission. The white show car had three side-draft carburetors, a hot cam, high compression head, and dual exhausts. A true roadster, there were no side windows, the only weather protection being rigid, metal-framed plastic side curtains and a manual canvas top. Its formal debut was held in September at the General Motors Proving Grounds, and 50 Corvettes were delivered by the end of the month. The first cars were allocated to high-volume dealerships, for sale to prominent citizens in their communities. Among the latter was John Wayne, who received Corvette number 51.

Because tooling for a steel body would have been time-consuming and expensive, fiberglass was chosen instead. Still, production was slow and by the end of the year just 300 had been built, all of them white with a red interior. First-year cars were built at Flint, Michigan; Corvette production in St. Louis began with the 1954 model year. The Corvette’s price of $3,498 was $1,200 more than a Bel Air convertible and $500 more than the Ford Thunderbird introduced a year later.

The 1954 models differed mostly in availability of additional colors. Although Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, and Black were added to the palette, Polo White remained the most popular, with four-fifths produced in that color. Other changes included a new type bag for window storage, rerouting of fuel and brake lines, and a new air cleaner and starter. At the end of the model year, all production moved to St. Louis. Furthermore, deliveries had increased tenfold, reaching 3,640.

Formerly in the Sun Belt collection of the late Las Vegas media magnate and philanthropist Jim Rogers, this second-year Corvette is one of 100 delivered in the new Sportsman Red color. It has been repainted in its original color, but otherwise has responded well to careful detailing. The interior has matching seats and carpet, and a dashboard finished in contrasting white. The latter contains a center-mounted tachometer, full engine instrumentation, and a push-button radio. Other features include windshield washers and a tan convertible top. The odometer shows barely 37,000 miles, which are believed to be original. The Blue Flame 150 six-cylinder engine is nicely detailed and runs well.
A superb example of an early Corvette in a rare color, this car is ready to be enjoyed to the fullest.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more