Presented by Mecum Auctions.
By the end of model year 1953, Chevrolet had sold only 183 of the first 300 Corvettes built at Chevrolet’s Plant No. 35 facility in Flint, Michigan, but production for 1954 was moved as originally planned to a newly renovated facility in St. Louis, Missouri, with production beginning in December 1953. The St. Louis plant was designed to produce 10,000 Corvettes each year, a figure that far exceeded the eventual total of 3,640 1954 models and would not be realized until 1961.
Efforts to increase sales for 1954 were few but significant for this new American sports car. To answer faltering early demand, Chevrolet targeted performance and options to attract buyers. A new camshaft introduced during early production increased horsepower in the Blue Flame Six to 155 HP, and the chromed dual exhaust tips extending from inside the rear bumperettes were lengthened to reduce staining on the surrounding rear bodywork. Chevrolet also offered a wider choice of exterior and interior colors. Not surprisingly, the signature combination of Polo White paint, a red interior and beige top accounted for 3,230 units, followed by 300 in new Pennant Blue with a beige interior and 100 in Sportsman Red on red.
Just four were produced combining black with a red interior and beige soft top, one of which is offered here in beautifully restored condition. Sold new at White-Allen Chevrolet in Dayton, Ohio, it retains its 235 CI Blue Flame Six engine featuring triple side-draft Carter carburetors fitted with early production style, chromed “bullet” air cleaners. Like all early Corvettes, this rare black example was equipped with the floor-shifted Powerglide 2-speed automatic transmission, windshield washers, courtesy light, heater, tachometer and gauges, dual exhaust and wide whitewall tires on red-painted steel wheels with full spinner wheel covers. With only four ever produced, this black 1954 Corvette will add a healthy measure of exclusivity to any collection of classic Corvettes.