Southern California’s climate and lack of “real” seasons provides an ideal environment to witness some very “real” cars almost year round. Occasionally the state experiences precipitation, which leads the news media into a panic, but generally speaking driving season is year-round, and one weekend in February proved why car guys love southern California. At the spring Temecula Rod Run, Ron Barry brought out his stunning 1957 Corvette Convertible. Barry lives in Rancho Palos Verdes, California and actually drove the ’57 down to Temecula proving that not all show cars are trailer queens.
Barry paid careful attention to use the correct replacement parts to maintain the pure feel of this vintage 'Vette.
A Fresh Start – Sort Of…
Prior to Barry acquiring the car in 1995, the previous owner had started a frame off restoration back in 1991, but left it unfinished. In ’95 a deal was worked out with the previous owner, and Barry had project car to finish. After taking plenty of time to research and locate the best quality parts available and working with knowledgeable Corvette shops, the ’57 was on its way.
Most restored cars exist in a climate controlled bubble, only leaving the garage while tucked inside the confines of an enclosed trailer. Ron Barry believes that these cars are meant to be driven, and he has logged over 40,000 miles in this beautiful '57 convertible.
When restoring a Corvette to be judged at national events, it takes time, patience and decent funding. Sporting the original engine complete with fuel injection, Barry had a great place to start. According to Barry (and confirmed by the Corvette Black Book) this car is 1 out of 713 equipped with the option code 579B fuel injection, out of a total production of over 6,100 vehicles. A standard 283 cubic inch engine (producing 283 horsepower) sits between the fenders in all of its restored glory. According to Barry, highlights under the hood include Rochester mechanical fuel injection, the aluminum fuel-injection-specific intake manifold and a camshaft designed by the father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov.
Barry brought his '57 Corvette to the National Corvette Restorers Society to be evaluated by a panel of judges back in 2000. It received a score of 92 out of a possible 100.
This ’57 features a Borg Warner 4-speed gearbox and a RPO 678 Positraction rear differential with a set of 4:11 gears. From the information provided, the clutch and drivetrain components are all stock pieces. It takes a certain level of restraint to keep from hot rodding a Corvette, since they respond well to certain horsepower enhancements, like headers, exhaust and power adders, but Barry held to true to his vision.
This '57 Corvette features the original 283 cubic inch engine, equipped from the factory with the optional Rochester mechanical fuel injection.
A Work In Progress
In keeping with restored or stock appearance, the interior was treated to a nearly flawless overhaul. Currently the car is due for a little touch up work; since it is never trailered to shows or events, it has been subjected to everything the local freeways have to offer. Barry plans to continue to keep driving the car and plans to continue the restoration process as needed.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it is nearly impossible to find fault with car like this.
In 2000 the ’57 was judged by the National Corvette Restorers Society, which involves a rigorous inspection and critique of the overall authenticity of the restoration. Like many of the prestigious Corvette shows, this event involved a group of judges who take up to 45 minutes to evaluate each car. At the end of the event and judging, Barry’s ’57 was awarded 2nd Top Flight honors, receiving a score of 92 out of 100. Again, the ’57 received high marks at the 2007 Chevy Western National Convention, where it was received the Platinum Award. At this particular event Barry’s convertible scored 988 points out of a total of 1,000.
All of the original gauges, knobs and even the factory radio were restored to a pristine state. Barry did elect to install a modern head unit, designed to be easily removeable for shows requiring the car to be in an OEM state.
These scores are impressive on their own, but considering this car is not kept in a bubble or trailered it makes it even more extraordinary. This Corvette actually accrues miles; in fact the Barrys have logged over 40,000 miles on the odometer since they first purchased the Corvette. Barry and his wife enjoy taking the car to shows and cruising it on the weekends. Along with esteemed awards and recognition, the orange ’57 has had its fair share of media attention through the years. This little convertible has graced the pages of both Vette Magazine and International Sports Car. Along with the photo layouts and car features, the Corvette has been featured in a billboard campaign for Budweiser.
When a car looks like this, who could resist wrapping "their ass in fiberglass" as the license plate frame suggests and going for a ride?
15 Minutes of Fame
For those classic car lovers on the west coast, In-N-Out Burger is known for their basic menu consisting of burgers, fries, shakes and some really great looking t-shirts. In-n-Out uses classic cars as part of the marketing campaign and occasionally a lucky classic owner will be asked if their car can grace the cotton fabric at the iconic burger chain. Released in 2002, the Fisherman’s Wharf T-shirt proudly displays the orange ’57 Corvette convertible. Artist Bill Hall was selected to create the design featuring the Fisherman’s Wharf Store with Barry’s Corvette parked in front.
According to Barry, his '57 is 1 of 713 cars produced with the RPO 579B mechanical fuel injection, from a total production of over 6,100 units.
It is a rare thing to find a Corvette with numerous awards, a media pedigree and an owner who actually drives the car. Barry may have a very “correct” Corvette, but he is not afraid to enjoy his hard work. Almost every nut, bolt and trim piece may indeed be show worthy, but Barry plans to replace and restore any items that show wear from actual use. “This car has been a lot of fun and restoration continues,” said Barry. In the end this is truly a beautiful example of a first generation Corvette that is indeed worthy of kudos, not just as a piece of automotive history, but as a car that’s driven and enjoyed.