Lot 30

2015   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2015

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

SOLD $220,000


$275,000 - $350,000| Without Reserve



Car Highlights

One of Just 300 First-Year Corvettes Produced
Historic Example of the Car That Started It All
Previous Owners Include John McMullen and Ray Nicholson Jr.
Painstaking and Detailed NCRS-Level Restoration
Fourth Member of the 1953 GM Grand Slam Convertibles

Technical Specs

235 CID Blue Flame OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Triple Sidedraft Carburetors
150 HP
2-Speed Powerglide Automatic Transmission
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Independent Coil-Spring Front Suspension
Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
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From the Peter Klutt Legendary Motorcar CollectionJohn McMullen, Lapeer, MichiganRay Nicholson Jr., Rochester Hills, Michigan (acquired from the above in June 2007)Peter Klutt/Legendary Motorcar, Halton Hills, Ontario (acquired from the above)

From introduction, Chevrolet’s Corvette was unique in concept, design, and execution. Conceived by famed GM Design Chief Harley Earl’s team as an American alternative to the sports cars arriving from Europe, the low and sleek new design first took shape as the EX-122 Motorama show car of 1952. Soon named after the light and fast naval vessels of WWII fame, the Corvette remains one of few Motorama show cars to reach production with their basic design elements left intact. This 1953 Corvette is car no. 157 of the first 300 built for the inaugural model year, and, as such, it represents an essential component of any serious sports car collection.

Representing a major leap of faith on the part of GM brass, the Corvette made its highly anticipated debut at New York’s glamorous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in January 1953. Any pre-show fears were silenced by the end of that first weekend in New York, where more than 300,000 people had seen the Corvette and nearly a million dollars’ worth of GM products were sold. Corvette production began just five months later, with the first cars built at a temporary facility in Flint, Michigan; and the earliest cars were soon in the hands of some of America’s most prominent families.

The Corvette mostly used existing production-based mechanical components. An eventual switch to steel bodywork was planned, but the Corvette continues to employ fiberglass bodywork today. In fact, the Corvette was the first American-built automobile with entirely fiberglass bodywork. All 1953 Corvettes were finished of with Polo White paint, red upholstery and wheels, and a black folding top. While a bold design statement at launch, the Corvette would soon be carefully and relentlessly groomed by legendary GM engineers, including Ed Cole and Zora Arkus-Duntov, into America’s only true sports car – an eventual Le Mans class winner and enduring legend.

Corvette no. 157 was formerly owned by noted and highly respected collector John McMullen of Lapeer, Michigan, who acquired it already in restored condition. Under close inspection, one can see the car was restored to NCRS guidelines with the utmost care and attention to detail. Mr. McMullen retained the Corvette until June 2007, when collector Ray Nicholson Jr. became its next caretaker. The car would form the unofficial fourth member of Nicholson’s Grand Slam assemblage of GM convertibles from 1953 – a remarkable and highly desirable achievement in collector-car circles. Now under the care of Peter Klutt, the Corvette continues to benefit from proper care, storage, and maintenance. Dubbed “America’s Sports Car,” the model has matured well into its seventh generation. The very rare first-year examples continue to be highly collectible and desirable touchstones to the Corvette’s earliest roots, making this fine example from 1953 a true must-have.