The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

Lot 125

1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

Sold for $346,500

  • Chassis no. E53F001274
  • Engine no. LAY566968
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


150 bhp, 235.5 cu. in. “Blue Flame” OHV inline six-cylinder engine, three 1-barrel Carter carburetors, Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

  • The original and iconic Corvette
  • The 274th of only 300 built
  • Restored by a Corvette expert and not yet shown


In the early-1950s, a team of GM engineers, headed up by Harley Earl, went to work trying to create a fiberglass-bodied car that had the appeal to compete with European sports cars. Harley Earl had excelled at swooping design since the 1920s and designed aircraft-looking features into the car, including round dials blended into a curved dash, all of which was sheltered under a roofline that stood just under 47 inches tall. The six-cylinder engine was positioned farther toward the rear, which gave the flat hood a long sleek appearance. By the time it was ready to be unveiled, it is reported that GM had spent over $1.5 million on the project.

Dubbed the Corvette “Dream Car,” it debuted at the GM Motorama show held at the stylish Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City with astounding results. Following the first weekend of the Motorama event in New York, over 300,000 people had seen the car and spent $800,000 on GM products. Concluding Motorama’s U.S. tour, GM stated that over four million people had seen the car.

Production of the two-seat roadster started in June 1953, and by year’s end, a total of only 300 Corvettes rolled off the assembly line. This first year of Corvette production signified an important technical milestone: GM was the first major American car manufacturer to successfully mass-produce a vehicle whose underpan and bodyshell was made entirely of fiberglass.

The Corvette featured GM’s “Blue Flame” inline six, 235-cubic inch engine, with triple Carter carburetors and dual exhaust. The engine’s respectable 150 horsepower was transmitted to the road via a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. All 300 cars built in 1953 were visually identical, finished in Polo White with a Sportsman Red interior. The car was fitted with subtle pieces of chrome trim, which ran along either side, as well as wire meshing covering the headlights.

Compared to the Jaguar XK 120 and the MGA of the time, the Corvette was proportionally smaller, yet it was more responsive and superior in handling. Unable to resist its magnetism, virtually every auto enthusiast felt compelled to get behind the wheel of the new Corvette. Even though its initial success was impressive, it is doubtful that even those at GM could have thought the Corvette would achieve the success it has over the six decades it has been in production.

The car offered here from the Don Davis Collection was the 274th Corvette produced, and it underwent a body-off restoration performed by Blue Flame Restoration, of Pendelton, Indiana, the shop of respected 1953 Corvette expert Brett Henderson. Equipped with a Wonderbar radio, spinner wheel covers, center-mounted tachometer and speedometer, and bullet air filters, it presents well and authentically throughout, in its iconic colors and with high-quality finishes throughout, which are appropriate to how this car left the factory. Panel fit is notably good for one of these early cars, as is the concours-quality brightwork and proper safety glass windshield.

The restoration still shows 45,750 miles, and it is believed to have not been shown since its completion. Equipped with its original side curtains in the trunk, as well as a CD of documentation on the restoration, this is a clean and lovely example of a car that every Corvette enthusiast needs in their collection. It was the beginning of America’s Sports Car, and it all began right here.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

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+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

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United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

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Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more