Cherry Red


Older Corvettes are favorites of car collectors. Vintage 1953 and 1954 Corvettes are exceedingly rare and simply priceless; first Corvettes made by General Motors. At high end auctions, those Corvettes sell upward to half a million dollars especially when buyers are oil sheiks out of the Mideast or billionaire businessmen of Japan.

I don't think even Jay Leno could afford this Corvette.

Three of us in our family come across a casual friend broke down in a grocery store parking lot. As always, she is relaxed and smiling. Our cowboy tells us, "We have to tend to her, she is an eloquent older lady and her Corvette is just as classy of a lady."

After small talk our girl's daddy fetches a clean beach towel from behind bench seat of our rust-bucket 56 Chevy pickup. Towel spread across trunk of her car, she gets in to steer and the three of push her light-as-a-feather Corvette to far end of this parking lot with few cars so some pimple faced mouth breathing teenage boy trying to park his momma's E-class Mercedes doesn't clobber her Corvette.

Our cowboy pops the hood and does a quick lookover for anything obvious. He is a timeless expert on antique Chevy inline six cylinders; he knows those better than he knows bodies of girls on which he is also an expert.

He explains to our girlfriend, "There are only two things which can go wrong with this engine, out of gas or an electrical failure." He asks her to tell him of events, driving in and later trying to leave. Her car is running fine going in but when ready to leave the engine cranks but will not start; no obvious sudden failure.

Photograph shows factory tri side draft carburetors, this is a "peppy" hot rod engine. He fetches a screwdriver and pliers from our truck which is about all he needs to fix an inline six. Fuel line loosened off and wrapped with a rag, "There is gas present, you are not out of fuel."

Electrical side of engine, coil, distributor and wiring. My husband removes some chrome covering and inspects. Coil is clean, no grease, wires are tight. Sparkplug wires are good. This cowboy of ours pulls off the distributor cap, all looks good, wires tight, points, rotor and cap are clean and look new. Wiggling the rotor points open and close as should. He explains, "Somewhere there is a bad wire connection, probably loose maybe a little corroded. You are not getting a strong enough spark at plugs to start the engine."

He goes on, "I don't have the needed equipment and tools with us to troubleshoot wiring. We need to haul your Corvette up to my shop where I can fix this." She tells our cowboy, "I have a mechanic. He is maintaining my Corvette since brand new!" Choice is obvious, haul her car to this mechanic who knows her car as well as our cowboy knows girls. Cannot leave a car like this in a parking lot overnight, before sunrise her car will be loaded on a merchant ship heading for Japan.

She calls her decades long mechanic. Although a Sunday he will open up his shop and be there waiting for her. All is well.

While waiting for a friend to arrive with a flatbed tow, we talk and kid around. Our cowboy daddy gets serious, he offers our girlfriend two-hundred grand for her Corvette. She grins, "Oh no, I can't sell my husband's Corvette, he would rollover in his grave!"

Flatbed arrives, our driver friend is nervous, "We have to be careful not to damage her car, dang, that's 54 Corvette!" We hand push her Corvette, line up with his bed then get the front tires started up.

Our cowboy shows the tow operator where to place a four-by-four to keep his tow cable from eating into her Corvette's fiberglass body. Our girl and I hold up ends of this post, our cowboy is up on bed holding the cable just right and the tow driver runs his winch. A bit nerve wracking but no problems.

This is probably the most valuable 1954 Corvette in America. Mint factory condition, original paint job, even the AM radio works nice. With a long documented service record and only one owner, an oil sheik would trade fifty vestal virgins, a thousand barrels of crude and a thousand head herd of goats for this Corvette. Other words, this sheik would pay a half million bucks to own and drive her Corvette.