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Lot: 143

1953 Chevrolet Corvette
    Estimate: $225,000 - $275,000
    • Vin: E53F001273

150 HP, 235 cid, overhead valve in-line 6-cylinder engine with three single-barrel carburetors, 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, with 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102.0"

In the early post-war days the American automotive industry was flush with cash. General Motors had assembled a cast of only the top rated engineering and stylists, and with so many talented people brought together amazing new developments were bound to happen. The idea of a Chevrolet based sports car had been bounced around since the end of hostilities, when an approval for an experimental two-seater was given. The result was a little roadster, officially project code EX122, that was prepared and shown as part of the 1952 GM Motorama traveling exhibition. So well received was this car that a production prototype was ordered, but even with money flowing like water, a relatively small budget of just $1.5 million was allocated to the build and presentation. Unveiled at the GM exhibition in New York City at the famous Waldorf-Astoria in early 1953, over 300,000 people jammed the showroom to get a glimpse of this new exciting car, now called the Corvette. Its sensuous curves, sleek styling and looking nothing like the full-size family Chevys of the day, was simple and it looked like a modern race car. Almost immediately and without any major changes, the Corvette was rushed into production, and the rest is history.

Some of those credited with the birth of the Corvette includ: Harley Earl, GM's Vice-President of Design; engine engineering genius Ed Cole; chassis development expert Maurice Olley; and Bob McLean who was a master at creating styling models and mock-ups. They combined their myriad talents to make the Corvette a success. And while Zora Arkus-Duntov might not have been in on the ground floor of the Corvette's development, he joined the team around May of 1953, and was instrumental in giving America's Sports Car a sporting chance.

In what seemed like record time for an automobile's development, it was announced that the new Corvette would soon be going into production. A special section of General Motors' Flint, Michigan assembly plant was set up to handle the new processes for fiberglass body production. Everything on these cars was pretty much hand-assembled from the shortened frame to the hand tuned "Blue Flame Six" engine, fitted with a trio of Carter Carburetors. It was felt that for ease of operation the 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission would be the safest bet.

When production for the 1953 models got underway, it was to be a true limited edition of just 300 units. It is very well known that those early cars were not exactly built to the same exacting qualities of the sleek models that bear the same name today. Fiberglass was still a new medium and perfecting the molding and marriage of body panels was a skill that needed to be developed. However, as the production run progressed so too did the skill of those craftsmen.

Of those first 300 Corvettes produced about 225 have been accounted for and it is estimated that in one form or another, nearly 200 have survived. Each one is truly a piece of American automotive history. The outstanding example we are pleased to present was created toward the end of the 1953 model year and carries unit number 273.

Treated to a full professional restoration we would dare to say that this car is probably what the designers and engineers were hoping for when the Corvette was first conceived. Looking over the body work, the Polo White paint is smooth and even with no signs of mismatched or ill-joined body panels. Both doors, the hood and deck lid display consistently even gaps. Under the hood, the Blue Flame Special looks like it was just installed in the car, finished in its original teal-blue color scheme with the proper markings, casting dates and components including the front of the valve cover that sports a slight dent as done at the factory so as to accommodate proper hood clearance.

For 1953 there were no real options when it came to color choices, either inside or out, nor for the equipment as each was car fitted with red vinyl bucket seats and a black canvas top, both of which are featured on this superb restoration. Also part of the Corvette package was the Wonder-Bar AM radio and recirculating heater. All the components that were exclusive to the 1953 models are also in place including the dual hood release controls, the smooth radiator surge tank, the bullet-style triple air cleaners and unique one-piece stamped carburetor linkage. Other important details include the wheels being painted red, just as they were at the factory and the proper Corvette spinner wheelcovers carrying the famous blue bow-tie logo in the center making sure everyone who saw this car when it was new, would know it was at its heart a Chevrolet.

Today the Corvette name is a legend. Even with stricter government controls on our automobiles, allowances have been made for America's favorite sports car to continue in production. The offering of #273 is a very unique offering and a chance to own a piece of history, one that has been restored to perfection and should be the centerpiece of only the finest automotive collection. This is an opportunity not to be missed.


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