Real Wheels: 1953 Chevy Corvette

·3 min read

May 21—LIMA — This 1953 Chevy Corvette Roadster is currently owned by Dave Kriegel. He purchased the beauty off of Vern Tilton's children, Jim and Barb.

"I'm sure they could have gotten more for this car, but they sold it to me, as I'm a Lima car guy," said Kriegel.

Kriegel is indeed a Lima car guy. This is his twelfth Corvette that he owns. Being a car guy, Kriegel is a major sponsor of The Westgate Charity Car Show every year. He will be bringing this rare Corvette to the show on Sunday, June 27th at Apollo Career Center in Lima.

Vern Tilton was a well-known car collector in Lima, with a vast knowledge of and love for cars of every shape and size. This pristine 1953 Chevy Corvette Roadster was the 41st car to come out of production in 1953, which was the first year for Chevrolet's sports car. Tilton had the original owner's manual. The 25th anniversary of Chevy's Corvette occurred in 1978. During the Indianapolis 500, the race festival paid tribute to Chevy's Corvette. Tilton took his 1953 Corvette to the Indianapolis 500 and his car was pictured in "Corvette News," a magazine with a blurb that one car came from Ohio for the 500 Race Festivities. Of course, the 1978 Chevrolet Corvette was the pace car that year as well for the race.

"I have been trying to buy this car off and on for about 20 years," said Kriegel.

Buying a 1953 Chevy Corvette was difficult for the general American public. Seeing the success of the prototype at the 1953 Motorama in New York City, the Corvette went from being a concept car designed by Harley J. Earl to a production car. General Motors put the production of the Corvette on the fast track. The Glass Reinforced Plastic, more commonly known as "fiberglass" bodies were supplied by the Molded Fiber Glass Company in Ashtabula, Ohio. Each fiberglass body was shipped in 46 separate pieces that workers in Flint, Michigan had to glue together. This was done by hand. Dealers were restricted in selling the 1953 Chevy Corvette to VIPs in the community: i.e. mayors, celebrities and favorable customers. It did not take long for the entire production of the 1953 Corvette to be spoken for. Chevrolet increased the desire for their sports car by selling out in that first year.

There were only 300 Corvettes produced that initial year, and two were destroyed by General Motors; now there are approximately 225 left. This fact makes the 1953 Corvette more desirable as it is one of the rarest and most collectible Corvettes of all time. The 1953 Corvette came in Polo White exterior and Sportsman Red Interiors, with a black top. They featured the "Blue Flame" Inline-6, with an automatic transmission and top speed of 108 MPH. Back in 1953, the Corvette would cost $3,490 to buy new.

Just like Vern Tilton, Dave Kriegel knows a great car when he sees it.

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