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1954 Corvette

1954 Corvette Challenges

When the going gets tough…

1954 was a very rough year for the Chevrolet Corvette. The biggest problem was that the latest GM sports car suffered from an identity crisis that could not be solved on any psychiatrist's couch.

The Corvette featured removable plastic side curtains for windows and a two speed automatic transmission. The plastic side curtains were popular on foreign sports cars at the time such as MGs. But the sports cars could boast about their four speed manual transmissions, not two speed automatics which were appropriate for boulevard cruising, not performance. The Corvette appealed to neither crowd.

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.

1954 Corvette
So was the Corvette a boulevard cruiser (above) or (below left) an all out sports cars destined for the race track? Consumers could not decide and stayed away in droves. Below right: the two speed automatic transmission with its funky shifter (a manual would not be available until 1955) did not help the situation.
1954 Corvette Race Car 1954 Corvette two speed automatic transmission

1954 Corvette
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 (the first 15 units were built at the same Flint MI facility as the 1953 Corvettes) which was equipped to produce 10,000 Corvettes a year. The 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 C1 Print Ad GM had a public relations problem in 1953. With a production quantity of only 300, buyers exceeded the number of available Corvettes; those that were built were available only to celebrities and other well connected individuals, leaving enthusiasts angry at being left out. 1954 solved the problem with increased production and an ad campaign (left) tried to appease the customer base.

1954 Corvette Penant Blue
Chevrolet attempted to widen the appeal of the Corvette with new colors including Pennant Blue (right) and Guardsman Red although the majority were still Polo White. A few Black cars were also built. All of the soft tops were beige and the Pennant Blue offered a beige interior. The other interiors were red. In the middle of the 1954 model a more aggressive camshaft boosted the horsepower from 150 hp to 155 hp.
1954 Corvette in Penant Blue with Beige Interior

1954 Corvette in Polo White with Hardtop
For the 1953 thru 1955 Corvettes, GM did not offer a hardtop. Aftermarket suppliers did, which is what you see here. GM did offer hardtops for the 1956 thru 1975 and 1989 thru 1996 Corvette convertibles.

1954 Corvette Exhaust 1953 Corvette Exhaust
Left: 1953 Corvette exhaust outet; right: 1954 outlet. Owners complained that the shorter outlet left soot on the body, a real problem on a white car. A running model change on the 1954 Corvette to a longer outlet solved the problem.
1954 Corvette Polo White
1954 Chevrolet Corvette

1954 Corvette For Sale

1954 White Corvette
Price: $0 obo
Exterior: White
Interior: Red
Miles: 500
Location: Martinsburg

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1954 White Corvette Convertible Blue Flame Six, powerglide, numbers match. Polo White paint with Sportsman Red interior (more)

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1954 Chevrolet Corvette

Collector Value

The 1954 Corvette model year might be one that all involved would like to forget, but time has healed many of the wounds and a 1954 Corvette is treated better by the marketplace today. The distinctive styling still is greeted with smiles and the various ills that afflicted the car when it was new now seem not to be a big deal. Limiting the attraction to collectors is the six cylinder engine; Corvette people like ground pounding V8s. Of the three model years with the early body style, the 1954 is the most affordable as it was the highest production volume.
1954 Corvette in Black
Photo Courtesy GM

1954 Corvette Options, Prices

RPO Description Production Price
100 Directional Signal 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
101A Heater 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
102A AM Radio, Signal Seeking 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
290B Whitewall Tires, 6.70x15 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
313M Powerglide Automatic Transmission 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
420A Parking Brake Alarm 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
421A Courtesy Lights 3,640 (100.00%) n/a
422A Windshield Washer 3,640 (100.00%) n/a

Total Production: 3,640
Convertible: 3,640 (100.00%)

Notes: Base Corvette: $2,774.00


Code Exterior Quantity Interior Soft Top Wheels
Polo White 3,230 (88.74%) Red Beige Red
Pennant Blue 300 (8.24%) Beige Beige Red
Sportsman Red 100 (2.75%) Red Beige Red
Black 4 (0.11%) Red Beige Red

Notes: Color quantities are estimates as reliable GM records are not available.

Note: Clicking on an image with this symbol (Boxes) will lead to a larger image.

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Comments (2)


1954 was a great year for Corvettes, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

My friend recommended this blog and he was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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