Would all efforts to protect something dear to your heart be worth it? What if those efforts kept you from enjoying it as well? That is exactly what happened to this 1954 Corvette.
The car’s original owner, Richard Sampson of Brunswick, Maine, was a successful businessman, owning a growing chain of grocery stores. That afforded him the opportunity to purchase a brand-new 1954 Corvette. He enjoyed the car for several years, and then, as one of the stores of his growing chain was under construction, he decided to have a tomb built for the car — inside the store!
A “tomb” is the best word to describe the car’s environment where it “lived” for the next couple of decades, beginning in 1959. Sampson specifically noted in his will, the car was not to be disturbed until the year 2000. He later removed this stipulation in a revision he made before he died in 1969.
The car remained entombed within its brick sarcophagus for 27 years. That is until the building’s new owner held a reveal ceremony in 1986. That’s when the car was exhumed and handed over to Sampson’s daughter, Cynthia. She shipped the car home to Daytona Beach, Florida, where she kept it in the living room of her home. A much more fitting abode for the car, but still outside the typical realm of Corvette stewardship. Cynthia kept the car in her home for the next decade, and then it passed through a series of owners.
The car is still in unrestored, original condition with only 2,344 miles on the odometer. The car now serves, not only as an exacting build standard of a typical 1954 Corvette, but also to the extent that some owners will go to protect one’s originality. The historical significance of the car, along with the interesting twists within the story it tells, makes this car a significant artifact quite fitting for display at the Corvette’s one and only National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The car was recently donated to the NCM by its present caretakers.
The intent of the NCM is to preserve the car in its current condition and to put it on display. NCM Curator, Derek Moore explains, “We know we want to recreate the tomb in some fashion, a diorama or vignette setting. We’re excited to share this unique piece of history!”
It is anyone’s guess as to why Richard Sampson entombed the car in the first place, and why he later rescinded on his desire to keep it there until the year 2000. And, what was the significance of that year? Since Richard passed away in 1969, we may never know exactly what thought process brought him to do that to his Corvette. We’re wondering, has anyone else ever protected their now classic so well that it prevented them from enjoying it as well? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave us a comment below.