Jay Leno Takes A Drive In An Almost Perfectly Original 1954 Corvette
The Corvette is considered by many to be the very first American sportscar and Jay Leno has just enjoyed a long date with one of the very earliest models. Equipped with the Blue Flame inline-six and no modern improvements it’s a window into the past of American motoring.
As Leno points out while driving the Vette, it’s easy for restoration to destroy the true driving behavior of a car. Mike McCluskey, the man behind this and many other Corvette restorations, including Jay’s personal 63 Split Window, took the time to painstakingly bring this one back to the condition it was in the day it rolled out of the factory. That even includes not restoring some features too much in fear that they would be better than factory finish.
Of course, getting it to the condition we see here wasn’t an easy job. This particular car sat in a field for some 30 years before being restored and it highlights the benefit of fiberglass as a body material. Instead of rotting or rusting away, it was in good enough shape to clean up and restore without the need for major panel replacement.
As clear evidence of how different times were back in 1954, take a look at the way the rear end of this Corvette sort of sags. That’s not a failure of the springs or some other mechanical problem. That’s the way this car came because as Leno says “they wanted it to look like it was taking off”. That’s literally the opposite of the way people design sports cars today.
The driving experience is decidedly old-school too. It doesn’t have power brakes or power steering and the inline-six clatters away with a noise that would shock those only familiar with new Corvettes. It’s comfortable though and as Leno points out, today, nobody expects it to be fast so it’s more fun to drive. Back when it was new it wasn’t very fast either but at the time that could prove to be a little embarrassing.
Now, you can use it and enjoy it, says Leno and that’s even better news because McCluskey is looking to sell it. No word on how much he’s asking but it’s a slick ride with lots of original pieces and a great history.