How many 1954 Corvettes can say that they’ve lived their entire life in the same city?
Well, if you go to Howard’s Pizza at the Classic 50s location in Great Falls, Montana, you can see what might be the only one that can make that boast.
It seems that a Great Falls family bought the car new (or maybe a year old) in that city way back in 1955, and the Corvette has been there ever since.
Through the years, Howard’s Pizza owner Tom Heisler – who has a set of 1950s Bel-Airs on display at his restaurant – always was asking the owner if he was interested in selling the Corvette, to which he always replied a firm no!
“I’d ask him if he was ready to sell that car and he’d say ‘No, that’s part of the family. That ain’t going nowhere,’ “Heisler recalled. “I think he had it in his brother’s garage, and his brother sold the house so they had to move the car. One day he called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to buy that car. “He said ‘I know you’ll keep it in Great Falls and take care of it.’ ”
Heisler jumped at the chance and now has the rare car – it’s one of only 3,640 ’54 models ever made – on display inside his pizza parlor for his customers to enjoy. He says people frequently want to pop the hood and then ask him if it is for sale. Though he could probably get anywhere from $65,000 to $140,000, based on sales of other such cars, he is inclined to leave it right where it is for now.
He says the Corvette is totally original and has not been restored, though it could use some rechroming of the chrome and some new upholstery, but the Blue Flame engine still runs great.
He does admit to making one change to the car. He removed the gas cap, which is unique to the ’54 model and might one day turn up missing if he left it on the car.
“They only built it the one year for the Corvette,” Heisler said of the gas cap. “People lift that gas cover there, and I don’t know if they’re looking for the gas cap. Some of them might have that information that it’s worth that kind of money and it would’ve probably disappeared a long time ago (if I left it).”
Great Falls Tribune
Photo Credit: Patrick Douglas