Countdown to Monterey: 1953 Corvette Roadster #199

1953 Corvette Roadster #199

Next up in our Countdown to Monterey series is this 1953 Corvette Roadster from the estate of noted collector John O’Quinn. O’Quinn died in a traffic accident and RM Auctions has been charged with liquidating much of his collection which includes several unique and rare Corvettes. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a quality first year Corvette at an auction, but RM Auctions is sure to have a winner with Lot #239, this stunning 1953 Corvette Roadster #199.

From the start, the Chevrolet Corvette was truly unique. Based on the EX-122 concept car of 1952, the Corvette remains one of the few GM Motorama designs with their show-car styling virtually unmodified for production. Its early-1953 introduction in the ballroom of New York’s Waldorf=Astoria drew over 300,000 spectators, and it entered production just five months later.

The legendary Harley Earl, Vice-President (Design) of General Motors, was the father of the sensational new Corvette. Other notable GM personalities involved with the Corvette project included Bob McLean, Maurice Olley, Ed Cole and, shortly before production began, Zora Arkus-Duntov.

Although the Corvette was to be built using mostly production-based parts and eventually switch to steel bodywork, it just did not happen. Even the way Corvettes were assembled was different, as the new sports cars were assembled by small groups of technicians. By the time the Corvette was ready for introduction, it was reported that GM had spent over $1.5 million on the project, a relative bargain by today’s standards!

This first-year example is one of an estimated 200 survivors out of total 1953 production of just 300 units. It remained original and unrestored until 2004, before coming out of Mississippi, being restored and joining the collection of the late Mr. John O’Quinn in September 2007, where it has enjoyed proper care and storage ever since. According to a recent inspection, it remains quite good in overall presentation, despite minor cosmetic imperfections. Finished in a Polo White/Sportsman Red color combination, the same as all other 1953 Corvettes, the car also features a black folding top, an AM radio and whitewall tires.

As the classic American sports car is now in its sixth generation, the very rare first-year examples continue to be highly collectible and desirable. This particular 1953 Corvette is certainly in a class all its own.

Highlights of VIN #199 Corvette Roadster:

  • The landmark first Corvette design
  • One of just 300 examples from 1953
  • VIN: E53F001199
  • From the estate of Mr. John M. O’Quinn
  • Estimate: $225,000-$300,000 US

This Corvette will be sold during RM Auction’s Sports & Classics of Monterey on Friday, August 13th at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center in Monterey. Click here for auction details or here for the car list.

Auction description courtesy of RM Auctions

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