Collette Young’s – 1953 Corvette
Collette Young purchased her 1953 Corvette in 2001. One of only 300 ever produced, each
fiberglassed by hand, Young’s car sports the same polo white exterior as the original, along with
the same red interior and black soft convertible top, although she did add a few things that might
make traditionalists cringe a bit.
She was drawn to the car because it was designed the year she was born, even though the first
cars didn’t come off the production line until June of 1953. “The lines and the fins,” she added,
“make the car look sleek and sexy.” It’s also the perfect fit for Young’s shorter stature.
The 1953 Corvette was one of the first sports cars in the era, and Young explained that it almost
went extinct, due in part to lackluster engine performance. Most buyers, she continued, “were
Chevrolet dealers, dignitaries, people like John Wayne.” Young explained that it would take
another couple of years and competition from the Ford T-Bird for the Corvette to really take off.
As for the lineage of Young’s car, she’s traced that through a Sacramento auction to the buyer in
Oroville to another owner in Alabama. “It’s probably one of those situations where it was a
dealer car,” she said.
“It was pretty ugly when we bought it. It was missing some parts and the engine was pretty ugly.
“It had a tired 350 in it and whoever put it in did a horrible job,” she said.
Instead of restoring the model’s original Blue Flame 6, due to unavailability and cost of parts,
Young decided to stay with the V8, opting for a 283.
Within a year of purchase, which included six months of restoration work, the car was stolen
after the first show and wrecked, its back end destroyed and the body riddled with rock dings.
“We took to the car back to Chico to a friend of ours who has an auto body shop there,” she
said. “It spent the entire next year in the shop getting completely redone.”
Contemporary fiberglass and hand sanding make the car look better than the original she
explained. Replacement bumpers and trim weren’t easy to find, so some body pieces were sent
out for straightening and re-chroming.
The Youngs continue to attend several car shows each year, recently showing in Los Banos
Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar