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Corvette collector’s persistence pays off

Old Cars Weekly archive – March 27, 2008 issue


Story and photos by John Gunnell

51191 Turq Vette

“Pretty in Cascade Green” could be the title of a photographic portrait of this ’57 Corvette “fuelie.” The current owner never caved on trying to buy the car and finally wound up with it.

One car showcased in Bloomington Gold’s “Special Collection XXIII” last June was Darrell Davis’ gorgeous 1957 Corvette “fuelie” out of Winter Park, Fla. Davis was following the restoration of the Cascade Green sports car and, since he knew the restorer’s reputation, he came to the conclusion that he would like to own the car. This didn’t happen overnight, but he remained persistent and wound up with the car.

Let’s start at the beginning, in 1957. The car was built with Serial No. 5217 and had the year’s 283-cid in its hottest 283-hp rendition. This was the now-legendary fuel-injection engine, widely hyped one horsepower per cubic inch.

With today’s technology, there are a number of current powerplants with horsepower ratings above their displacement, but in 1957, marketing a “street” car that provided one pony per inch was a notable achievement. Many – maybe even most – of the injected cars were raced, but buyers did not have to have a competition license to get one at their local Chevy dealer.

By the early ’90s, car No. 5217 wound up in the care of Bob Odiorne, a fireman in the San Diego, Calif., area. It next went to Neil Wynn, who had run a Chevrolet dealership in southern Ohio.

Wynn brought the Corvette to Curt Austin, of Roscoe, Ill., to have it completely restored. Austin was well known for the quality of his ’57 Corvette restorations. He turned out a consistent number of show-winning cars. It was during Austin’s project that Davis started asking about the car.

Davis knew that Wynn’s cars were always very nice and so he kept asking him if he could buy the fuelie. Finally, around 2002, Davis was offered the chance to own the Corvette. Naturally, he pounced on the opportunity.

The car was expertly done. The Cascade Green paint is complemented by Shoreline Beige coves. The engine wears a perfect Rochester fuel-injection setup and is hooked to a Borg-Warner T10 four-speed manual gearbox that drives to a positraction rear axle with 4.11:1 gears. It is brightened up with factory full-wheel discs, correct-for-the-era white sidewall tires and the optional fiberglass auxiliary hardtop.

In addition to its appearances at Bloomington Gold, the car has been shown at Chevy Vettefest and at National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) shows, as well as at Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) meets. It holds Top Flight and Performance Verification certificates and a Duntov Award from Bloomington Gold, as well as Gold Certificate, Gold Spinner, Triple Crown and Top Gun awards. In AACA judging, it has taken First Junior and First Senior honors, as well as a James Melton Award.

You are probably getting the idea that ’57 ‘Vettes don’t come much better. It also goes to prove that, if you are serious about car collecting, it pays to be persistent when you know what you want. 

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