BRUNSWICK, Maine — The famous “entombed” Corvette that spent 27 years bricked into a vault inside a Bath Road building could sell for at least $175,000 in a Florida auction Saturday.
The Corvette is one of more than 3,000 vehicles to “ride the red carpet” at the Mecum’s Kissimmee Auction at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla.
The car has an automatic transmission, red interior and a “Blue Flame” 6-cylinder engine.
Richard Sampson, a businessman who built a chain of 33 grocery stores, purchased the car new in 1954 and drove it until 1959. Then he took it to the construction site of a store in Brunswick — currently home to China Rose restaurant, 42 Bath Road — and had workers enclose it in a brick-and-mortar vault, according to a story by Kane Rogers in this month’s edition of Mecum Monthly, an auctioneer publication.
Although he had ordered in his will that the car stay sealed until 2000, he removed that order before his death in 1969.
Rogers writes that the building was sold in 1982 to auto dealer Frank Goodwin with the agreement the car be removed by 1986, so it was “liberated once again by Sampson’s daughter, Cynthia, who watched as workers removed the outside wall brick by brick.”
The car’s white paint had yellowed and blistered through the years, but the tires held air and the chrome, top and interior “were still in remarkably good condition,” according to the auctioneer.
Cynthia Sampson then kept the Corvette — in her living room — for 10 years in Daytona Beach, Fla., until selling it to a collector.
The car appeared in 1996 in the Bloomingdale Gold Special Collection in Springfield, Ill.
The 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster may bring $175,000 to $225,000 when it is auctioned at 4:50 p.m. Saturday.
The Corvette “remains probably the lowest mileage unrestored Corvette in the world, still with the 2,331 miles that were on the odometer when it finally again saw daylight 27 years after its entombment,” according to Mecum Auctions.
Mecum Auctions offers absentee bidding by phone for those who can’t attend.
For information call 262-275-5050 or visit www.Mecum.com, where one can find information about the car and a link to a live webcast of the auction.