The Incredible Story of the Entombed 1954 Corvette: A Time Capsule Unearthed

Prepare to be captivated by the extraordinary tale of a 1954 Corvette that was entombed for over 25 years and has now found its place of honor at the National Corvette Museum. This remarkable story begins with Richard Sampson of Brunswick, Maine, who purchased the Corvette brand new in 1954. Little did he know that his love for the car would lead to an unconventional decision that would make headlines for decades to come.

Richard Sampson's 1954 Corvette on display at the National Corvette Museum.

After enjoying his beloved Corvette for nearly five years, Richard realized that his wife didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the car. Rather than selling it, he chose a truly unique path. In 1959, during the construction of his new grocery store, Richard expressed his desire to have his Corvette entombed within the building. The construction team carefully encased the car, brick by brick, creating a time capsule that would preserve his cherished possession for future generations.

Notice the pitting, crazing and other deterioration of the original front fender due to neglect, poor air circulation, and the quality of the project used in 1954.

Richard Sampson’s will originally stated that the Corvette should not be unearthed until the year 2000. However, before his passing in 1969, he rescinded this stipulation. In 1986, new owners of the grocery store began the meticulous process of dismantling the tomb to retrieve the Corvette. Wesley and Will Irving painstakingly removed the bricks one by one to ensure the car’s safety. The Corvette, now owned by Richard Sampson’s daughter Cynthia, was then transported to Daytona Beach, Florida, where it remained in her living room for an additional decade.

Since its resurrection, this 1954 Corvette has changed hands a few times, even making its way to the Barrett Jackson auction in 2016. With only 2,344 miles on the odometer, the car has been remarkably well-preserved. Recognizing its historical significance, anonymous donors generously donated the Corvette to the National Corvette Museum. The car now resides in a cutaway recreation of its original vault, allowing visitors to marvel at its unique story and appreciate the imperfections that bear witness to its time entombed. This captivating piece of automotive history serves as a testament to the enduring allure of the Corvette and the passion of its devoted enthusiasts.

Richard Sampson's 1954 Corvette, as presented by the Barrett Jackson auction in 2016.

Sampson's 1954 Corvette undergoing clean-up and preservation conditioning at the National Corvette Museum.

Richard Sampson's 1954 Corvette on display at the National Corvette Museum as seen thru the recreation of the original viewport built into the wall at Sampson's grocery store.

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