So Good, It’s On A Stamp


1953 Chevrolet Corvette ‘Noland Adams’

The 1953 Corvette was designed by the very talented Harley Earl, Chevrolet’s chief designer. GM listened to the demands of the GI’s that returned from Europe wanting an American sports car. Production was limited to only 300 units the first year so selling the entire production of the entirely new model was not a problem. The first Corvette reached the end of the assembly line on June 30, 1953. The first 53’ Corvettes were all built by hand, in the back of a customer delivery garage in Flint Michigan. Chevrolet made it clear the new Corvette would only be available to high profile executives and people of power and influence. An example is John Wayne received a Corvette for promotional events. . The first two 1953 Corvettes were engineering test cars and according to official records, were destroyed. Of the first 300 Corvettes, approximately 225 are known to exist today.

All 1953 Corvettes were Polo White with a red interior and a black canvas top. There were two options offered: a signal seeking AM radio ($145.15) and a heater ($91.40). Although listed as options, all 1953 Corvettes were equipped with both items. The base price was $3,498.00, including the federal excise tax and $248.00 for shipping and handling. This was almost twice the price of the standard Chevrolet!

When introduced in 1953 the Corvette featured the “Blue Flame” six cylinder engine. The “Blue Flame” six was known for reliability but it had only 105 horsepower which was standard for Chevrolets. The Corvette motor did have enhancements which included a three carburetor design and dual exhaust which upped the horse power to 150, almost 50% more than the standard Chevrolet. The Corvette was lighter and with more horse power, helped make the first year Corvette a strong performer.

When Chevrolet introduced the new Corvette it took the Motorama in New York City by storm! This new sports car by Chevrolet with only two seats, fiberglass body and sleek lines was state of the art at the time! It was extremely well received!

In 1953 Chevrolet was already working on a new facility devoted to building Corvettes in St. Louis which had the capacity to build 10,000 cars a year.

One of the country’s foremost Corvette authorities, Noland Adams has 55 + years of experience as an owner, restorer, and historian of the Corvette. His first two books, Corvette Restoration & Technical Guide, Volume l, 1953-62 and Corvette Restoration & Technical Guide, Volume ll, 1963-67 are the bibles of Corvette restoration. In 2003 Noland was inducted into the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame.

Noland purchased his 1953 Corvette Number 284 in 1955 and began his 43 years of ownership. A 10 year frame off restoration by Noland and his friend Don Mulenhoff was completed in 1999. The best Corvette experts in the world came together and contributed to the 2,667 hour 1953 Corvette masterpiece. Noland’s 1953 then earned the Bloomington Gold Award, NCRS Top Flight, NCRS Performance Verification Awards, and the NCRS Duntov Mark of Excellence Award scoring of 99.8%.

In 2003 Noland accepted a secret mission from the graphics company contracted by United States Postal Service to serve as technical consultant for a 1953 Corvette stamp. Noland was asked to ensure the 1953 Corvette drawing was accurate. He could tell no one except his wife about the stamp until the artwork was approved by the US Postal Service. The preliminary drawings Noland began to review were based on photos of his own 53 Corvette. With his eye for detail, Noland improved upon the drawing for the postage stamp. To get the headlights positioned properly Noland took additional photos of his Corvette and found a paint sample that matched the white of his car. The real Polo white was creamy white, not white like a refrigerator. Eventually the mission was completed and the 1953 Corvette stamp was born.

In September of 2001, Mid America Motorworks orchestrated a massive grassroots movement called the Corvette Stampede, 100,000 signatures were needed to petition the United States Post Office to create a Corvette Stamp. The stamp was to honor the 50th Anniversary of Corvette. Finally released in 2005, the USPS debuted the stamp at Mid America Motorworks Corvette Funfest. Noland Adams and his ’53 Corvette were present for the unveiling at Mid America and also present for the unveiling in Detroit at the 2005 Michigan State Fair. Patrick Donahoe, Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Postal Service said, “Automobiles have always been a clever way of celebrating our American history and culture”.

A four inch binder documenting every hour of the restoration with pictures, judging sheets, awards, and a full set of autographed books is also included.

SOLD at Russo and Steele’s 2012 Scottsdale Auction for $467,500.00

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Text by Russo and Steele