1954 Corvette

Not surprisingly, the 1954 Corvette differed little from the 1953 model, though running refinements occurred throughout the model year. For instance, the 1953 Corvette had two short stainless-steel exhaust outlets protruding inboard of the rear fenders. When it was found that air turbulence tended to suck exhaust gases back against the car, soiling the paint, the outlets were lengthened and routed below the body. But even this alteration didn't entirely solve the problem, which would persist until the 1956 redesign, when the tips were shifted to the rear fender extremities.

In addition, gas and brake lines were better protected by being moved inboard of the right-hand main frame rail, and tops and top irons changed from black to tan. The storage bag for carrying the side curtains in the trunk was mildly reshaped and newly color-keyed to the interior.

The 1954 Corvette had a revised camshaft that boosted the 235.5-cubic-inch six by five bhp to 155.
The 1954 Corvette had a revised camshaft that boosted the 235.5-cubic-inch six
by five bhp to 155, but acceleration remained relatively tepid at about
11 seconds 0-60 mph.

Some initial inconveniences were also remedied on the 1954s. For example, the original two-handle exterior hood latch was replaced by a more manageable single-handle mechanism after the first 300 or so units were built. The choke control was moved from the right to the left of the steering column, swapping places with the wiper switch. This eliminated having to reach across or through the steering wheel to operate the choke with the left hand while turning the ignition key with the right. Moisture in the rear license plate recess tended to cause its plastic cover to fog up, so Chevy included two little bags of a desiccant material to keep the area dry.

Under the hood, a new camshaft gave the Blue Flame six an extra five horsepower, boosting the total to 155 bhp, though the increase wasn't announced until the following year. Other alterations included a new-style rocker-arm cover (about 20 percent of which were finished in chrome -- serial numbers 1363 through 4381), a tidier wiring harness, and more plastic-insulated wire (replacing fabric). Also, the three bullet-shaped air cleaners were replaced by a two-pot configuration after the first 1900 cars rolled off the line.

The 1954 Corvette featured bucket seats, a sports-car must -- even for one with only an automatic transmission.
The 1954 Corvette featured bucket seats, a sports-car must -- even for one
with only an automatic transmission. Note the short floor-mounted shift lever.

Another problem the 1954 model addressed concerned the convertible top mechanism. On early cars, the main irons had to poke through slots in the chrome moldings behind the seats and were capped with spring-loaded flippers. Beginning with serial number 3600, the irons were redesigned with a dogleg shape that allowed them to slip between the body and the seatback. Unhappily, this led to another annoyance -- the top irons rubbed against the upholstery. Since the preferred top-folding procedure was not particularly obvious, the factory began sticking explanatory decals on the underside of the top cover.

For 1954, the Corvette finally came in a choice of colors: Pennant Blue, mated to a tan interior, accounted for about 16 percent of production. Sportsman Red, selling at about four percent, and the original Polo White, at about 80 percent, were teamed with red interiors. A very small number of cars -- as few as six -- were painted black and also carried a red interior. Some 1954 owners claim to have original paint colors other than these four, though they're not shown in factory records. However, pain bulletins are known to have listed a Metallic Green and a Metallic Bronze.

Learn about other Corvettes in this generation:

1953 Corvette

1954 Corvette

1955 Corvette

1956 Corvette

1957 Corvette

1958 Corvette

1959 Corvette

1960 Corvette

1961 Corvette

1962 Corvette

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