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’Glass Belle

Robert Ross

1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

Though a quintessential piece of midcentury Americana now, the space-age-looking Corvette must have seemed as exotic as rocket science in 1953, when Chevrolet launched America’s first sports car to compete with the popular European marques brought back by servicemen following World War II. The fiberglass-bodied roadster, a radical departure from delicate MGs and bathtub-shaped Porsches, possessed a stylish flair but did not immediately deliver on its performance promise: The 1954 version of Chevrolet’s new baby was powered by a 150 bhp, 235.5 cu in, inline 6-cylinder engine and a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. This anemic "Blue Flame" powerplant was replaced by a proper V-8 in 1955; however, for their undiluted form and period flavor, the earliest ’Vettes are the choice of purists. While most of these beauties were painted Polo White, this pristine example has been restored with its original Pennant Blue livery.

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