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C1 Corvette

1954 Corvette

With all the attention the 1953 Corvettes have been getting recently, we thought we’d take a look at what some are calling the best value of the early C1s – the 1954 Corvette.

The rising values of the 1954 Corvette has surprised many as it appears the 2nd year model is finally making its move. Many factors justify the appreciation of the 1954s, none more significant than the fact that the model year is sandwiched between the skyrocketing values of the 1953 Corvette and the V8 Powered 1955 Corvette. In the past, the 1954 Corvette was in many ways considered the stepchild of the early C1 generation, but no more as collectors are beginning to appreciate the Corvette on its own merits.

Production of the 1954 was moved to its own renovated assembly plant in St. Louis and benefited greatly from the lessons learned from the mostly hand assembled 1953 Corvette. GM’s estimated 10,000 units would be produced but only 3,640 constructed. While the sales projection was way off for the time, this production number is over 10 times the number of 1953 Corvettes produced and over 5 times greater than the 1955 Corvette that followed it.

As there were no real drive-train options offered, the 1954 Corvette is one of those rare years where the values are driven almost exclusively by the exterior color. Of the 3,640 1954 Corvettes produced, it’s estimated that the colors were broken down as: 3,230 Polo White, 300 Pennant Blue, 100 Sportsman Red and 4 Black. Therefore with similar cars (condition, documentation, etc) any color other than Polo White will be valued at $10,000-$15,000 more while the ultra-rare Blacks could command three to four times that.

Our Corvette Price Guide documents the rising values of the 1954 Corvette with an average price of $65,000 and a high of $143,000. However most astounding is the appreciation figures. The 1954′s 1 year appreciation is 30% and the 5 year appreciation figure is 85%. Who’s the stepchild now!

In perusing the market in search of examples we found the following:

1954 Polo White Corvette1954 Corvette Convertible, Blue Flame Six, powerglide, numbers match. Polo White paint with Sportsman Red interior and Beige Soft top. Body-off restored over a five year period with the top and interior being done by professional restorer, John Kennedy of Bountiful, Utah. Show condition! Optioned with powerglide, 3.55 rear, Wonderbar radio, e-brake warning light, windshield washers, courtesy lights, heater, hubcaps, and 6.70×15″ wide white tires. Most all factory correct type components including the spare, jack, jack tools, trunk mat, trunk liner, side curtain, side curtain bag, rebound straps, washer system, tar top battery, shifter, shielding, air cleaners, generator, side draft carbs, and #241 head. A very correct spectacular first generation Corvette that was a recent Bloomington Gold feature car. Looks, runs, and drives excellent. Offered by Proteam Corvette. $119,000

1954 Sportsman Red CorvetteFinished in stunning and rare Sportsman Red with correct Red interior. One of only 100 built, this spectacular motorcar was purchased in Southern California from a professor who acquired the car from its original owner, a GM factory engineer. This museum-quality Corvette is one of the very first three red Corvettes ever built by General Motors. It has only been driven 25,000 miles and has recently undergone a cosmetic restoration, including show quality paint, new interior, new tires and new top (original tires and interior are now boxed and goes with the car!). This spectacular motorcar has been examined by many Corvette experts and is believed to be one of the nicest original examples on the market today. It has the correct, numbers matching engine, correct carburetors and many early unique features such as dual hood releases, ultra-short (pre-Duntov) exhaust tips, correct date-coded side curtains with the storage case, original factory spare and so much more. eBay Buy-It-Now Price: $119,900

1954 Polo Blue Corvette2-owner 1954 Chevy Corvette. 1954 was the first year this car was produced in a color other than white. This Pennant Blue sportster will turn heads at every corner. Except for the paint, this baby is all original. The side curtains, the spare tire, the soft top, gauges, Wonder-Bar Radio, hub caps and even the original windshield-washer fluid container – all original!!! The radio works but the speaker needs to be connected. The Blueflame engine is all original and all numbers match. In 1954, 3230 whites were produced. Only 300 Pennant Blues were produced. This is truly one of the rare ones!!! There are some areas that can use some TLC – for example, the carpeting and driver’s seat. The driver’s side curtain is missing a small screw and both curtains need some work on the rubber trim. The car starts on first try and sounds like a dream. The Powerglide Automatic transmission shifts smoothly. eBay Current Bid: $25,655.00


Source:
Proteam Corvette
eBay

Related:
Appreciating Corvettes: Top 12 Price Gainers of 2007

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Auction Results: [VIDEO] 1953 Corvette Sold for $261,800

by Keith Cornett on January 27, 2008

Cool weather and an occasional shower were not enough to slow down the buyers from coming out to Mecum’s High Performance Auction this weekend in Kissimmee Florida. One of the star cars of the auction was this 1953 Corvette, serial #112. This Corvette was previously offered in 2007 and was the only no-sale out of the eight 1953 Corvettes we saw at auctions last year. At the Mecum’s High Performance Auction in St. Charles back in October it received a high-bid of $225,000.

Serial #112 appears to be the real deal. Featuring matching numbers and the owner’s history, this Corvette spent most of its life in Northern Indiana in St. Joseph County. It comes optioned with powerglide transmission, wonderbar radio, emergency brake warning light, windshield washers, courtesy lights, heater, hubcaps and 6.70×15″ wide white tires.

At the Kissimmee Auction, a high bid from Terry Michaelis of Proteam Corvette for $238,000 was enough to sell the Corvette this time around as it was reserved up to $235,000. Total price for the first-year Corvette after the 10% buyers commission was $261,800. UPDATE: When Mecum published the official results from the Kissimmee auction, this 1953′s price with sales commission was listed as $249,900.

Just a quick note about my experience at the Mecum auction. I’ve been going to the Kissimmee auctions for about 10 years now since it was paired up with the NCRS winter regional. It’s amazing how big this auction has become. Huge tents everywhere keep the Corvettes and other muscle cars cool and dry in case of inclement weather. Plenty of seating is availble for non-bidders and this year’s auction featured a couple of bars. Vendors are on the ground and there were plenty of choices for food. Mecum really puts on a great auction and if you enjoyed watching the Barrett-Jackson auction on TV, then you owe it to yourself to get out and see one of these large multi-car auctions live.


Source:
Mecum High Performance Auctions

Related:
RM Auction Results: 1953 Corvette Sells for $290,400
2007 List of 1953 Corvettes at Auction
[Video] Matched Set of 1953/2003 Corvettes sell for $390,500

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Barrett-Jackson 08: 1958 Corvette Sets High Price

by Keith Cornett on January 19, 2008

We were damn lucky to see this Corvette get sold. It seems this year Speed TV has a knack of going to commercials just as a Corvette is crossing the auction block. So when the video starts you’ll see the bidding has already underway.

Lot Number 990.1 is a 1958 Corvette Convertible, Silver Blue with Silver Blue interior. Featuring a 283 ci 240 dual quad engine coupled to a T10 transmission, the Corvette has just 36,990 original miles. It has a very low production sequence number of #302. The numbers matching Corvette underwent a documented frame off restoration and has just 200 miles on her since completion.

The couple that won the bidding were very excited. The announcer says this is the fourth car he has purchased and his wife is still smiling!

Sources:
Barrett-Jackson.com
SpeedTV.com

Related:
Barrett-Jackson 08: [VIDEO] 1958 Corvette Convertible
Barrett-Jackson 08: [VIDEO] A Tale of Two 1963 Corvettes
Barrett-Jackson 08: [VIDEO] 1966 Corvette Convertible Sells for $86,900
2008 Barrett-Jackson Corvette Auction Preview

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RM Auction Results: 1953 Corvette Sells for $290,400

by Keith Cornett on January 19, 2008

1953 Corvette Convertible

Barrett-Jackson isn’t the only game in town this weekend. Several highline auction houses also had events worth noting, and in particular interest to us was RM’s Arizona Auction held Friday, January 18th where a 1953 Corvette was offered and sold.

The Corvette, lot number 182, was sequence number 268 of the 300 produced in 1953. According to the auction description, the car was purchased back in the 1970′s by a noted Corvette specialist and had a professional documented concours quality restoration in the early 1980′s. The Corvette has appeared at several shows and earned its AACA National Senior First Prize in Hershey, PA in 1986. The seller acquired the Corvette in 2001 and had it stored in a private collection since then. At one show, the Corvette was signed by Zora Arkus-Duntov on the fender and dash and a photograph of Zora signing the car was included in the sale.

While the pre-sale estimates of the Corvette ranged from $275,000-$325,000, the actual selling price was $264,000 and with the 10% buyers commission, the total selling price was $290,400. Still a decent purchase in our opinion based on 2007′s 1953 Corvette sales average of $359,079 from six public auctions.

Next weekend we’ll be in Kissimmee Florida for Mecum’s Winter Classic where another 1953 Corvette Convertible is set to be sold. Stay tuned as we will have the complete details following the auction.


Source:
RM Auctions

Related:
Auction Results: 1953 Corvette Fetches $440,000 at Hilton Head

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Barrett-Jackson 08: [VIDEO] 1958 Corvette Convertible

by Keith Cornett on January 18, 2008

Here is a really sharp 1958 Corvette that was sold at the 2008 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The selling price was $75,000 + the 10% buyers commission of 10% for a total price of $82,500.

Lot #728 was the first C1 Corvette to cross the block at the 2008 auction. The Corvette’s exterior is Snowcrest White with Inca Silver coves and comes appointed with a Pebble Black interior. Powered by a 283 ci 270 hp dual quad small block V8, the sales literature lists the mileage at an incredible 30,500 miles.

There is kind of a funny aside to this story. The seller is John Howard, car collector and legendary cycling and triathlon star. Howard set the bicycle land speed record of 152 mph back in 1985 at the Bonneville Salt Flats, traveling at a speed greater than his 1958 Corvette is capable of in its stock form. No word on whether or not the bike was modded.

For a list of Corvettes going through the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, check out our Corvette auction preview.

Sources:
Barrett-Jackson.com
SpeedTV.com

Related:
Barrett-Jackson 08: [VIDEO] A Tale of Two 1963 Corvettes
Barrett-Jackson 08: [VIDEO] 1966 Corvette Convertible Sells for $86,900
2008 Barrett-Jackson Corvette Auction Preview

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Three years ago car restorers Bill Connell and Joel Lauman got a lead on a rare 1957 Corvette that was parked inside a barn on a pig farm outside of Trenton, Ohio. The two were familiar with the history of the car and its original owner Bill Howe, a local car dealer who raced the car in 1957. While Connell was convinced that this car was a true airbox Corvette, it wasn’t until they were able to make the deal and bring the partially disassembled car back to the shop where upon further inspection it turned out to be the first airbox Corvette produced by Chevrolet.

Joel and Bill next to the restored 1957 Corvette. Original Owner Bill Howe at the Cumberland, MD SCCA race on 5/19/57.
The 1957 Corvette was a true barn find The 1957 Corvette restored to its original glory.

Before we get into the details of what makes an airbox Corvette so rare, let’s go back to 1957 when small town Chevy dealer Bill Howe first got the Corvette. The story goes that Bill and a friend flew from Ohio to the Corvette factory in St. Louis where they picked it up on May 16, 1957. They then drove the car straight though back to Middletown, Ohio. They stopped for a couple of hours of sleep and then they drove through the night to Cumberland, Maryland where they arrived just in time to compete in an amateur SCCA event against some of the best known racers of the day. In the end, Bill Howe and his number “4007″ Corvette came in third place.

Fast forward to present time. As Bill and Joel began work on the Corvette, they brought in noted Corvette historian and Chevy V8 fuel-injection expert Ken Kayser who spent two days researching the Corvette, upon which he proclaimed that the 1957 Corvette was indeed an original airbox Corvette and more importantly, was the pilot car from which only 43 were produced.

So what is an airbox Corvette? I had never heard the term before so I posed my question to the Corvette Forum’s C1-C2 section where the resident expert on airbox Corvettes “DZAUTO” schooled me on the following:

ALL fuel injected 57 Vettes have an air cleaner attached directly to the air meter. Fuel injection units do not like heat, and all of the 57 FI engines (except 43) drew in hot air coming directly from the HOT engine compartment. The 43 Fuel Injected cars which were built with an “Airbox” in 1957 had a somewhat crude, practically hand laid up, fiberglass duct work attached to the left inner fender and a hole was cut into the left side of the radiator support to allow air into the duct work. All of these 43 cars were built with heavy duty everything (translate factory built race car), brakes, suspension, special steering, NO radio, NO heater, wide wheels, tachometer mounted (clamped) on the steering column, fuel injection, HD shocks and that about covers it. Somewhere along the line, the term “Airbox” was tagged to these 43 cars, and it stuck.

A Regular Production 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Unit 1957 Corvette Fuel Injection Unit with a Fresh Air Intake (airbox)

Restoring the 1957 Corvette to its original glory took over two years and more than 1,500 hours. Fifty years and five months after Bill Howe took delivery of number “4007″, the Corvette was completed. As with most freshly restored classic Corvettes, the 4007 1957 Corvette will make an appearance at an NCRS show to be judged and Corvette Forum member “66rag427″ mentioned in the airbox post that the 1957 Corvette is expected to be judged next month in Dayton, Ohio. He’s promised photos so we’ll see how well it scores when he reports back.

Finally, there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the airbox option. For many years the option was know as RPO 579E and in fact The Corvette Black Book shows that 43 Corvettes had the 283 ci FI engine option at an additonal cost of $726.30. However in Ken Kayser’s book entitled The History of GM’s Ramjet Fuel Injection on the Chevrolet V-8 and its Corvette Racing Pedigree he states that the real airbox option was actually 579D, an RPO not listed in the Black Book. Corvette Forum’s DZAUTO has read Kayser’s book and says the author seems to have a pretty convincing argument based on the research of GM’s archives on the subject.

Regardless of the airbox option’s RPO codes and how many may have been produced, what’s worth remembering about this story is the fact that an ultra rare Corvette with a unique racing history was found partially disassembled in a barn and was brought back to life by two guys with a passion for both Corvettes and local automotive history. For more on this fantastic barn find, click here to view a video complete with historical footage of that SCCA race on May 19, 1957.


Sources:
Middletown Journal
CorvetteForum.com

Related:
Corvette Barn Find
Barn Find: 1968 Corvette Convertible

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Dealers Take Corvette Buyers on a Virtual Test Drive

by Keith Cornett on December 16, 2007

Corvette dealerships are utilizing the advantages of broadband connections and video sharing websites to allow customers to not only see a Corvette they may be interested in purchasing, but to actually take the car on a virtual test drive. The American Sportscar Center in Atlanta, Georgia has been busy cranking out these virtual test drive videos for a select number of their Corvettes like this one for a 1959 Corvette Convertible. Not only do these videos allow the customer to see the Corvette from all angles, but the ability to actually hear the car running as well as riding shotgun on a run down the highway at 60 mph creates a memorable experience that I am sure will lead to an increase in sales.

The virtual test drive videos also serve a dual purpose as advertising for the dealership on the social video websites like YouTube.com and StreetFire.net, I am certain that we will be seeing more dealers move towards producing these video test drives in the near future.
Source: BuyaVette.net Related:
Video: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Quick Drive Technorati Tags:
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Here is something that you don’t see everyday and in the words of the auctioneer, it’s probably something that will never be duplicated! We’re talking of course about the matched set of Corvettes that was sold at Saturday’s RM Auctions Al Wiseman Collection in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Al had a 1953 Corvette with the serial number of #39. When the 50th Anniversary Corvettes were produced in 2003, Al lobbied GM quite hard for about a year and was successful in buying serial number #39, which was doing duty as a test mule. Topping off the collection was a commemorative 1953 Corvette pedal car from Pedal Cars USA produced to celebrate the Corvette’s golden anniversary. This unique Corvette pedal car also is number #39 in its series.

The 1953 Corvette has been in Al’s collection for around 5 years and has just completed a full concours quality restoration. Al was no stranger to 1953 Corvettes. Back in 2002 he teamed up with Chip Miller of Carlisle Productions to restore serial #158. That Corvette, dubbed “Restoration Celebration”, was restored to better than perfect condition and the proceeds from the sale of that car were donated to charity.

Interestingly, the sale of both of these 1953 Corvettes ended up in the hands of the same buyer…Terry Michaelis of Proteam Corvettes.

And while the buyer and seller of both 1953 Corvettes remained the same, what has changed in the last five years is the prices commanded for the first year of America’s Sports Cars. #158 was purchased for $170,000 in 2002 while 1953 Corvette #39 brought in $390,500 just five years later.

Yes, this auction of the 1953 Corvette had the bonus of a serial numbers-matching 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette Roadster, as well as the kids commemorative pedal car, but it was the 1953 Corvette that drove this sale home.


Source:
RM Auctions

Related:
Video: Zora’s 1955 Corvette Sold By RM Auctions for $134,750

 

RM Auctions was in the Tampa Bay area this weekend to auction off the collection of antique and classic cars belonging to noted automotive collector Al Wiseman. Included in the auction was this very significant 1955 Corvette Roadster that belonged to Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s first Chief Engineer.

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The 1953 Corvette Convertible1953 Corvettes continue to fetch big money at collector car auctions around the country. Over the weekend, a 1953 Corvette hit the auction block at Hilton Head’s Concours d’Elegance and sold for $440,000, a figure that ties the high price set earlier this year for the first year mark at the McMullen auction in Detroit. The selling price includes the 10% Buyers Premium. The Hilton Head auction was gaveled by the Worldwide Group. With 1953 Corvette prices up sharply compared to 2005 and 2006, collectors are striking while the iron is hot. Only two 1953 Corvettes were sold at auction in 2006, including the #003 Corvette which changed hands for $1,080,000 at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale. So far this year, seven 1953 Corvettes have hit the market, with six resulting in sales. Here are the sales results for 1953 Corvettes for 2007:

Auction Model Price Result
       
Hilton Head 1953 Corvette $440,000 Sold
Mecum St. Charles 1953 Corvette $225,000 High Bid
Bloomington 1953 Corvette $283,500 Sold
Bloomington 1953 Corvette $296,625 Sold
McMullen 1953 Corvette $440,000 Sold
WW – Seabrook, Tx 1953 Corvette $396,000 Sold
Barrett-Jackson (Scottsdale) 1953 Corvette $298,350 Sold
       
  Total Sales: $2,154,475  
This year alone, over $2 million dollars has been generated on the sale of six of these first year Corvettes. The strong results has pushed the Corvette investment market into a new era where being the first Corvette is now on average more valuable than fuelies or big blocks. This trend all but guarantees that we will see more 1953 Corvettes come out of the shadows and into the auction paddocks in 2008.
Source:
Island Packet
The Worldwide Group Related:
Auction Results: 1953 Corvette Sells for $440,000 Technorati Tags:
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