1957 Chevrolet 210 “El Capitola” Sam Barris Custom Wins 2024 Greenwich Concours de Sport Best in Show

Shoot For Details/Josh Sweeney

Best in Show for the Greenwich Concours de Sport is usually reserved for a vintage racer that was campaigned by a famous driver in a famous race. However, the criteria for the Concours de Sport extends to all cars that epitomize automotive style, performance, and innovation. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that the wildly customized “El Capitola” owned by Tim McMann clinched this year’s top honors.

“El Capitola” started life as a 1957 Chevrolet 210, but it didn’t stay stock for long. Original owner Don Fletcher took his 210 to Sam Barris to be thoroughly customized. At the time, Barris was tiring of the customs industry. He had already moved away from his brother George’s shop in Los Angeles to pursue a quieter family life in northern California, but he still took on some work for Barris Kustoms out of his home shop in Carmichael, California near Sacramento. “El Capitola” was the last car that Sam Barris customized before becoming an insurance investigator and the fire commissioner for Carmichael.

“I think he used every trick he ever learned on this car,” remarked owner Tim McMann. Indeed, Barris did not hold back on his final car, as it scarcely resembles the ’57 Chevy it started out as. For starters, the top was chopped three inches in the front and five inches in the rear, the b-pillar was removed to convert the car to a hardtop, and the badges, emblems, and door handles were deleted. Many body parts from the likes of DeSoto, Lincoln, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Studebaker were grafted on to the Chevy in addition to one-off pieces like the taillights and fender skirts. The magenta parts of the body sit proud of the rest of the sheet metal. In an era before plastic body filler, all of the work was done with lead—630 pounds of it according to McMann.

Unsurprisingly, the interior was treated to the same lavish attention to detail as the exterior. Legendary custom upholsterer Eddie Martinez went all-out with rolled Naugahyde faux leather and gold frieze fabric. The instrument panel was chromed, and the original seats were swapped out with four individual swiveling buckets. The color-matched, free-standing TV in the rear is a feature way ahead if its time.

“El Capitola” took two years to finish, but once completed, it was featured in magazines like Car Craft and Customs illustrated. Original owner Don Fletcher sold it in 1961, and the car swapped hands multiple times before McMann took stewardship in 2019.

“My whole deal is to buy customs from the ’50s or earlier, and bring them back to the exact build the first time they were built,” explained McMann. “It had a lot of things on it that weren’t original. For example, it had a 350 engine, and it came with the original 265 in a crate. So, I put the 265 back in.”

Ultimately, the judges rewarded McMan’s dedication to originality. “It’s unbelievable that a custom should even be a finalist, much less win Best of Show. I’m over the moon!” We’re just as excited to see a custom win.


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    A horrible ripoff of the ’57 Lincoln. Maybe it’s a good thing this was his last effort.

    I can’t say I like the changes to this car. Front end for sure is a lot of work to… look a lot like the same-year Lincoln.

    This is a custom with a lot done to it. Tri-Five Chevy seldom benefit from customizing aside from some smoothing and dechroming. Chopping makes less sense on the 55 and later (depends on brand) cars that weren’t designed with 10-gallon hat headroom.

    If you are going to do the lots of effort custom, the Valley Custom 50 Oldsmobile is a much more tasteful direction in my view.

    A horrible ripoff of the ’57 Lincoln. Maybe it’s a good thing this was his last effort.

    I’m just trying a different place to eat and stuff I can eat wowywow I can do it lol 😂 I’m not good with that you can cook and it just isn’t good enough when it’s done so I can get a hold on it and I’ll try it to make sure you get my money done and then I’ll take you to a meeting with my dad to help you get me up and then I have a question for you lol thanks 😊 I’ll see you soon I hope you have all good day I hope you have yyyyy great 😊 I hope you have a great weekend love love you too dad I love how you feel like it is just a little bit of a life harder and I feel like that it’s just a little bit of a pain but in a way you too will have never done it before you get to sleep and I don’t feel good to you be like a really good friend and to you know you. Concours. Where to?

    Alright settle yer britches youngsters and listen good! Grandpappy’s got a tale wilder than a rodeo clown ridin’ a bucking brontosaurus! Now back in my day, science wasn’t so fancy. We didn’t have no fancy computers or nothin, we had to make do with what we got. That’s how I came up with the “Sneeze-a-vator!”

    This here contraption, it was a masterpiece of junk! A rusty old oil drum for a body, an umbrella for a top, and a whole lotta feathers shoved in the back. Now the science behind it, well, it was a bit foggy even for me. The idea was, you’d climb in, take a big ol’ sneeze, and the feathers would propel you outta sight! Like a human cannonball, but powered by your own nose!

    The first test flight, well let me tell ya, it was a sight to behold! I climbed in, took a deep breath, and let out a sneeze that coulda knocked a cow outta its boots! But instead of flyin’, the Sneeze-a-vator just kinda sputtered and coughed, shootin’ feathers everywhere like a deranged chicken. I ended up stuck headfirst in a pile of hay, lookin’ like a misplaced scarecrow.

    Needless to say, the Sneeze-a-vator never quite took off. But hey, it sure got the townsfolk talkin’! They still tell stories about the day Grandpappy tried to fly with his nose. Just remember, kids, even the craziest ideas can lead to a good laugh… or a face full of hay!

    Sport? Hardly. Don’t care how well done it is, how well presented, etc. The award is meant for a car representing motorsport, not lead work.

    I’m typically not big into full-blown customs – especially those where I can’t really tell what the original car actually was. Would I have picked ’57 Chevy off a multiple-choice questionnaire, asking “what’s this car”? Maybe the instrument cluster would’ve given me a clue, but I also might’ve just thought it’d been grafted into a Lincoln-Mercury product. However, I do think some kudos are appropriate for imagination, skill, and effort. This sort of thing is surely not an easy task to plan and execute. And there is a not-insignificant group of folks out there who love this sort of thing. So I’m giving credit where credit is due – even though the end result would never grace my “cup-of-tea” list (or my driveway). Interesting piece.

    A really appropriate name for this monstrosity is “ Send in the Clowns. “
    Perhaps designer of this joke on wheels intended to spoof the asininity of pompous concours d’elegance (sic) events.
    It reminds me of Rodney Dangerfield crashing a high society soiree. Or, maybe it wasn’t a spoof.

    It looks something you’d see parked in the rubble of Fallout 3. Excess that can only come from the past. It looks like a delicious pastry. It’s challenging, but I don’t hate it. Looks better than a 57 Lincoln.

    I took part Sunday, a beautiful show. This joke is an ugly piece of crap! Shame on the judges!

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