Don Fletcher's 1957 Chevrolet

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A photo of the El Capitola taken at the 1960 Renegades Rod & Custom Motorama in Long Beach, California. This photo appeared in Car Craft November 1960, in a coverage from the show. Photo by Bud Lang, courtesy of Car Craft Magazine.
Photo from the Barry Mazza Colection.
The El Capitola at an indoor car show in the 1960s. Photo from the Dave Jenkins Photo Collection.
The El Capitola as it sat after Chuckie Gollahon received the car as a gift from his grandmother.
Guy towing a Chris-Craft Cobra with the El Capitola. Photo courtesy of Guy Boucher.

1957 Chevrolet 210 restyled by Sam Barris of Barris Kustoms for Don Fletcher of Del Paso Heights, California. The car is known as the "El Capitola," and it was the last collaboration between Sam and George Barris. The car was entirely built by Sam at his own shop in Charmichael near Sacramento, California. That is why the car was called El Capitola, as it was built in Sacramento, the capital of California.[1]

Sam began by chopping the top 3 inches in front and 5 inches in the rear. The side posts were removed, turning the car into a hardtop. All the glasses were butted together and the drain moldings were hand-made. The center of the top was recessed 1/2 inch by hammering it. Up front Sam welded a pair Studebaker grille pans into place, the split grille cavity had an expanded metal grille inserted. Vertical quad Lucas headlights were tunneled, the front fenders were peaked as well. The hood opening was reshaped making it into a pancake hood, it featured a beaded center.[2] In the rear Sam fit the car with 1957 Lincoln fins. The fins were canted outward with flat T fins on top, and housed a pair of red lenses with frosted white bars for taillights. The fins were 96 inches long, and were sculptured to protrude forward into the doors. The molded-in rear end was protected by 1957 DeSoto split bumpers. The rear bumpers were set in split rear grille similar to front. Double-quad exhaust protruded out from under the frenched plate housing. Components from a 1954 Pontiac, 1953 Oldsmobile, and 1954 Lincoln were used to make the side trims which were fit with extruded panel inserts. The car was nosed, decked and shaved for door handles, both Doors, deck lid, and windows were electrically operated.[2]

Inside the car featured four swivel bucket seats. The interior was upholstered in white pearl Naugahyde and imported gold French frieze by Eddie Martinez. Both the cab and trunk featured TV installations. The cab had also a stereo tape recorder and a phone installed. The gauge cluster and moldings were fully chromed, and the car could be steered using the stick in the center console. The car was painted Dust Pearl white with Kandy Burgundy Peral panels at the Lynwood shop by Hershel "Junior" Conway. The hubcaps were made from polished aluminum, and provided extra brakecooling via the finned openings. The hubcabs were designed by George Barris, he tried to market them, however only a few sets were made. The build took 2 years to complete. [2] In February 1960 the car was shown at the Sacramento Autorama.[3]

In 1983 Eula Gollahon purchased the El Capitola for her 12 years old grandson Chuckie Gollahon of Brookville, Ohio. Guy Boucher of Lewiston, Maine bought the car while buying a 1932 Ford Roadster body in Ohio. The car was exactly how it was built for Don Fletcher, except of the purple paint which had been replaced with gold. The car was totally untouched and 100% complete. Guy and his son John spent 5 years restoring it back to how it first appeared. The car was taken apart and stripped right down to the surface of the original lead filler that Sam applied. The candy purple color was able to be reconstructed from a spot found under the trim, and he had Norm Long of Lewiston to re-paint it. The interior was in good shape and only needed a good cleaning. Guy rebuilt the 265 engine and transmission himself. The engine compartment are loaded with many details and chrome pieces, including finned valve covers, and an Edelbrock three deuce intake with Rochester carburetors. The final touch Guy made was having Ed Roth to have it pinstriped.[1]

Magazine Features

Car Craft July 1960
Trend Book 197 Custom Cars 1961 Annual
Car Craft April 1961
Spotlite Book 526 Twenty Top Customs



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