- Desirable first year of the Corvette
- The 87th of only 300 built
- Three known owners from new; less than 6,000 actual miles
- Restored to NCRS standards; Top Flight winner at chapter level
First introduced as one of the GM Motorama Dream Cars, the Chevrolet Corvette was put into production in June 1953. Born somewhat by accident, it was built as a show car and skeptics thought of it merely as a publicity model. In order to get the car into production quickly, the body was built of fiberglass, rather than taking the lengthy time needed to mill dies and produce a body out of steel. Although considered a production model, each car was essentially hand-crafted. The powertrain was quite simple, a 150-hp “Blue Flame Six” with three side draft carburetors and shifted via a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. All were finished in Polo White with red interiors and black tops. With a base price of $3,513, just 300 were made.
This Corvette, the 87th of those 300 built for 1953, is presented in the original Polo White over red combination. The car was purchased new by Gerald Wiles of Orrville, Ohio. He owned the car for a number of years, at one point changing the exterior color to black. Admired from afar, the Corvette was acquired in 1962 by fellow resident of Orrville, Ohio, Lyle Hill, then just 20 years of age. Hill enjoyed the car in nice weather, with a work vehicle being his main mode of transportation. In 1968, Hill, a member of the National Guard, was called into full duty in the U.S. Army, where he was assigned to a base in Germany. Prior to leaving for service, not knowing how long he would be away or if he would be headed to Vietnam, Mr. Hill disassembled his beloved Corvette, not wanting anyone to drive his car while away.
In 1970 Mr. Hill returned home, married, and began his quest for a college degree. With the focus put on his family and career the Corvette remained in storage, awaiting restoration. In the early 1980s Mr. Hill began purchasing up parts for 1953–1957 Corvettes from estate sales, advertisements, and swap meets. He and his wife attended numerous Corvette shows around the country. Mr. Hill became well known in the Corvette world, selling parts throughout the U.S. and into Europe, South America, and Asia.
The year 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of the Corvette, and Mr. Hill, having worked on putting his Corvette back together over the years, used this date as his goal to complete the restoration. An event was held in Flint, Michigan, where the first corvettes were built, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of America’s sports car. While he was not able to complete the drivetrain restoration, Mr. Hill was proudly in attendance with no. 087. At the reunion, a general agreement among the officials was that there were no. 1953 Corvettes known with any lower original mileage. Mr. Hill owned the car until his passing in 2014. Later in 2014 the car was purchased from the estate by a private collector, and current owner, who went on to complete the restoration to NCRS standards. Less than one year later the car was judged by Bonneville Chapter National Corvette Restorers Association where the car received the chapter’s Top Flight award in 2015. The car is accompanied by Mr. Hill’s title from 1962. The current owner is only the third registered owner of this fantastic first-year Corvette.
With its restoration to NCRS standards, no. 87 is a stunning three-owner example, and with less than 6,000 actual miles from new, possibly the lowest mileage 1953 Corvette in existence. It is a fine example of the first year of the of the Chevrolet Corvette, America’s first sports car.