1954 Chevrolet Corvette

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

1954 Chevrolet Corvette

1954 was to be a very rough year for the Chevrolet Corvette.  Introduced only the previous year, the latest GM sports car suffered from an identity crisis that could not be solved on any psychiatrist’s couch.  As introduced in 1953, the Corvette was mostly a thrown together experiment.  Production was limited to 300 units total, so sales of the entirely new model was not a problem.  The first production Corvette was finished on June 30, 1953, which is considered to be the birthday of the Corvette.  All 1953 Corvettes were Polo White with a red interior and a black canvas top.  The problem, though, was which market was the car aimed at: was the Corvette a boulevard cruiser or an all out sports cars destined for the race track? Consumers could not decide and stayed away in droves.

The Corvette featured removable plastic side curtains for windows, a six cylinder “blue flame” engine rated at 150 hp (upgraded during 1954 to 155 hp) and a two speed automatic transmission.  The plastic side curtains were popular on foreign sports cars at the time such as MGs.  These foreign sports cars could boast about their four speed manual transmissions, not like the Corvette’s two speed automatics which were appropriate for boulevard cruising, not performance. The Corvette appealed to neither crowd.

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

The asking price for a 1954 Corvette was also an issue.  It cost $2,774.00 without options, more than a Cadillac which featured a V8 engine and a top that did not leak.  On the sports car side there was the Jaguar which also cost less than the Corvette AND featured a sophisticated, more powerful engine along with a genuine four speed transmission.

Just when you think things couldn’t get worse, they did.  For 1954 GM had an all new just-for-Corvette assembly plant built in St. Louis which was equipped to produce 10,000 Corvettes a year.  General Motors cranked out 3,640 1954 Corvettes, a full one-third of which were unsold at the end of the model year.  According to Corvette legend, dealers were forced to sell many for below their cost, which is something they liken to cutting off their fingers.

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Chevrolet attempted to widen the appeal of the Corvette with new colors including Pennant Blue and, as in the example seen here, Guardsman Red although the majority were still Polo White.  A few Black cars were also built.  All of the soft tops were beige.

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Sully Historic Site, Chantilly, Virginia

–  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Fortunately, GM persisted with the Corvette and over the next few years refined the Corvette.  The first major breakthrough being the introduction of a much needed more powerful engine 195 hp V-8 in 1955.  The Corvette legend was beginning to take shape.

Click here to learn more about the 1954 Corvette.

9 Comments

  1. Superb images of the birth of a classic
    LensScaper recently posted..The De La Warr PavilionMy Profile

  2. great car of course and fabulous shots Mark!
    Jim Nix recently posted..A Santa Fe sunsetMy Profile

  3. Beautiful set of images, Mark. Man, what a car!
    Jimi Jones recently posted..Spring SunriseMy Profile

  4. Isn’t it funny how today this car is one of the most prized and collectible of Corvettes? What an interesting beginning. I just love this post, Mark, there’s nothing prettier than a bright red Corvette roadster, in my humble opinion!
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..Have I Been Forgotten?My Profile

  5. A really great article and collections of images! You did your homework. A+

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