It’s no secret that we like to drive our Corvettes. While our trusty ’85 does fine for the daily dose of performance, who can deny that they still swoon over the flowing lines of the first three years of Corvette production? The styling of these cars is amazing. We also note that this is the very styling that stole the hearts and minds of America when it first laid eyes on it at the Motorama event in ’53.
We’ve always secretly lusted after one of these cars, and for various reasons, we’d always said that we prefer to have a ’54. They don’t have the stigma of the first year Corvette, a trait you’ll appreciate if you ever decided to modify one. And, they don’t have the appeal of the factory-V8 cars that followed in ’55. They’re silently nestled between greatness, yet they can be great themselves.
A perfect example is this ’54 Restomod that is being offered at the Vicari Auction’s New Orleans event this August. Chevrolet did so many things right when they designed the car way back when, but then the folks that built this particular car took it one step further.
The car still has the charm of the original (unless you REALLY like hubcaps) but has been updated underneath the surface, where it counts. The car still has the look of an early Corvette, right down to the signature wire-mesh covered headlamps. But, the car has been modified with the intent of making it a great driver as well. There are numerous upgrades to the interior, such as air conditioning, power brakes and power steering, and, like the original, there is still an automatic transmission being controlled by that stem of a shifter peeking out next to the seat. Although this transmission is fully electronic and features twice as many gears as the original.
One feature that this car does not have, is power windows, not necessarily for any other reason than it would be rather complicated to operate them when they are stored in the trunk. As you likely already know, the windows on the ’53-’55 cars were drop-in units that were stored in the trunk until needed. Window cranks, whether powered or not, were not even a consideration for the first three years of Corvette production.
Under the hood is where the deviation from stock gets interesting. At first, you’ll notice the LS3 crate engine that churns out 430 horsepower. Beyond that, you can note that the car also has a completely updated frame which appears to be a Street Shop Inc. offering. It updates the chassis for late model drivetrains such as this LS3/4L60e configuration, but also includes (in this case) a C4-based chassis that uses coil-over shocks at each corner to keep the car at right height.
There is very little that we would change about this car or build differently, if we were to take on the project ourselves. While we do have a soft spot for Pennant Blue, we think that the Black/Red scheme is also a standout. We like chrome, we like vintage styling and we like modern amenities, and somehow, this car clicks off all the boxes without overstepping any of the others. Sometimes restraint is the most important tool to have in your toolbox, and whoever built this car knew how to use it.
We can imagine ourselves tearing down the highway in this little roadster, but, unless we hit pay-dirt under a lot more sofa cushions, we’ll likely congratulate someone else as its new owner shortly. We hope they enjoy this ’54 Corvette as much as we would.