Six years ago, the oldest production Corvette in existence, Corvette #003, sold for $1,080,000 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale. RM Auctions is not expecting a repeat of that sale when the third-oldest Corvette, Corvette #005, crosses the block next month at its Arizona auction, but is still predicting a sale price of about half a million dollars.
This car, VIN E53F001005, one of the first three 1953 Corvettes sold to the public, was bought by Crawford Greenewalt, then president of DuPont, as a gift for his wife, Margaretta DuPont Greenewalt. The Greenewalts kept #005 until March 1956, when they traded it in for a new 1956 Corvette. In the late 1960s, after passing through several hands, it was found in North Carolina, needing restoration. It was then bought by Vintage Corvette Club founder and turkey farmer Ed Thiebaud, who sold it in 1972 to Randy Hickman. (There’s a photo of it, unrestored and on a trailer, on this page.) Restoration didn’t begin until the car was sold to John and Melanie Kocsis of Athens, Pennsylvania, in 1997. It was shown on the Corvette’s golden anniversary, at the 2003 Corvettes at Carlisle show, along with Corvette #006.
Just 300 Corvettes were built in 1953, and the early cars have some unusual features. This one is the last example built without an outside rearview mirror; it, Corvette #004, and Corvette #006 were the only ones sold with chrome Bel Air hubcaps. It features a VIN tag made of stainless steel, rather than aluminum, and a chromed speaker grille.
The roadster achieved Top Flight certification with a score of 99.6 percent at the National Corvette Restorers Society convention in 2003, and also brought home the Ladies’ Choice award. The National Corvette Certification Board awarded it Gold Certification in 2004, meaning that it had been restored to at least 95 percent of the way it appeared when it left the factory.
RM’s pre-auction estimate of $450,000 to $650,000 is about twice the book value of a typical 1953 Corvette in #1 condition. Guess we’ll all find out what the bidders think it’s worth on January 20, when it crosses the block as Lot 266 in the ballroom of the Arizona Biltmore. For more information on the event, visit RMAuctions.com.