1954 Corvette Entombed For 27 Years Comes To The Corvette Museum

Would all efforts to protect something dear to your heart be worth it? What if those efforts kept you from enjoying it as well? That is exactly what happened to this 1954 Corvette.

The car’s original owner, Richard Sampson of Brunswick, Maine, was a successful businessman, owning a growing chain of grocery stores. That afforded him the opportunity to purchase a brand-new 1954 Corvette. He enjoyed the car for several years, and then, as one of the stores of his growing chain was under construction, he decided to have a tomb built for the car — inside the store!

A “tomb” is the best word to describe the car’s environment where it “lived” for the next couple of decades, beginning in 1959. Sampson specifically noted in his will, the car was not to be disturbed until the year 2000. He later removed this stipulation in a revision he made before he died in 1969.

The car remained entombed within its brick sarcophagus for 27 years. That is until the building’s new owner held a reveal ceremony in 1986. That’s when the car was exhumed and handed over to Sampson’s daughter, Cynthia. She shipped the car home to Daytona Beach, Florida, where she kept it in the living room of her home. A much more fitting abode for the car, but still outside the typical realm of Corvette stewardship. Cynthia kept the car in her home for the next decade, and then it passed through a series of owners.

The car was only four years old when it was snatched away from public viewing and presumably in well enough condition that Richard Sampson wished to preserve it. The second-year built Corvette is in unrestored condition but shows wear from its time in the tomb.

The car is still in unrestored, original condition with only 2,344 miles on the odometer. The car now serves, not only as an exacting build standard of a typical 1954 Corvette, but also to the extent that some owners will go to protect one’s originality. The historical significance of the car, along with the interesting twists within the story it tells, makes this car a significant artifact quite fitting for display at the Corvette’s one and only National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The car was recently donated to the NCM by its present caretakers.

The intent of the NCM is to preserve the car in its current condition and to put it on display. NCM Curator, Derek Moore explains, “We know we want to recreate the tomb in some fashion, a diorama or vignette setting. We’re excited to share this unique piece of history!”

It is anyone’s guess as to why Richard Sampson entombed the car in the first place, and why he later rescinded on his desire to keep it there until the year 2000. And, what was the significance of that year? Since Richard passed away in 1969, we may never know exactly what thought process brought him to do that to his Corvette. We’re wondering, has anyone else ever protected their now classic so well that it prevented them from enjoying it as well? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave us a comment below.

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
Read My Articles

Hot Rods and Muscle Cars in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Street Muscle, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Street Muscle NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Street Muscle - The Ultimate Muscle Car Magazine

We'll send you the most interesting Street Muscle articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

Street Muscle - The Ultimate Muscle Car Magazine

Street Muscle NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

Street Muscle - The Ultimate Muscle Car Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Classic Ford Performance

Street Rods

Classic Chevy Magazine

Street Muscle - The Ultimate Muscle Car Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Classic Ford Performance
  • Street Rods
  • Classic Chevy Magazine

Street Muscle - The Ultimate Muscle Car Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Street Muscle - The Ultimate Muscle Car Magazine

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading