Time capsule 1954 Corvette - image: David Newhardt for Mecum AuctionsEnlarge Photo
In 1959, grocery mogul Richard Sampson gave builders of his latest store, in Brunswick, Maine, a rather unconventional request: they were to entomb a perfectly good, low mileage 1954 Corvette in its own room, lit by two incandescent bulbs, with only a single square window from which to view the car.
As Hemmings Daily
tells us, the C1 Corvette
was to remain in this time capsule until the year 2000, then some 41 years in the future. Sampson died in 1969, and the car stayed parked in its mausoleum until the store was sold in the 1980s.
Prior to his death, Sampson had amended the clause requiring the Corvette to remain in storage until the year 2000, and in 1986 his daughter Cynthia (now the owner of the Corvette) spent $3,000 to have the car removed from its tomb.
To honor her father's memory, the car was shipped from Maine to Florida, where it ultimately wound up not in her garage, but in her living room. While we can understand such an art installation, most of our partners have less-refined taste in sculpture.
The cold and damp storage environment hadn’t been kind to the car’s finish, though the rest of the Corvette
remained remarkably intact. It’s convertible top was still in superb condition, and its whitewall bias-ply tires even held air (likely since the car had been stored on blocks).
Cynthia Sampson kept the car for another 10 years, before selling it to model specialist Pro Team Corvette. It’s since remained in “as original,” unrestored condition, with just 2,500 miles on the odometer, making it a true time capsule Corvette.
Offered for sale at last week’s Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida, Hemmings Daily
advises that the car was bid up to $100,000 before being removed from the block. Aside from “over $100,000,” it’s not clear how high a reserve price the car carried.
Hagarty’s prices a Condition One (flawless, essentially, and among the best in the world) 1954 Corvette at $110,000, so the $100,000 bid received may have been a fair offer for the car. With prices slowly climbing, perhaps its current owner can afford to wait for a market rebound.