John chose Richard Robinson Restorations in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, to bring this '56 back to its original, as-delivered condition. "It took the restorers, Dick Robinson and Jimmy Keegan-who runs The Discovery Channel's restoration shop now-six months trying to come up with the proper metalflake and tint," John says of their efforts to replicate the OEM Aztec Copper finish. "This is one of those cars where, if you show up at a NCRS meet with it, everybody's going to say, 'That's not the color that I remember.'"
Speaking of the No. 7 Sebring Vette, it now shares something with this C1-two brake drums, as John found that locating originals from 1956 was all but impossible. "I do have one full set of the SR brake drums, but two cars that require them," he says, while noting that he may have to use the '57 Corvette's RPO 684 drums if he wants to show both cars at the same time, what with original '56 SR pieces being unobtainable. "I have never seen those for sale," he adds. "I'm just lucky that I have another car that had them."
All the luck and restoration skill resulted in the C1 that you see here, looking like it just drove out of a Chevy dealer's delivery department in the spring of 1956. What's it like to drive? "It's really fun," says John. "We did the California Mille in 2002 with it, and we got a little more than our money's worth-it turned out to be around a 1,250-mile road trip. Rich and Charles Mason from Carson City, Nevada, who own the Jerry Earl/Harley Earl SR2-we ran together with them in that event.
"I do get it out a few times a year. It's fun, but would you want to take off cross-country in it? You'd probably rather have a C6 to do that."
How about vintage racing this '56? John says that it might still hold its own on a road course...maybe. "The technology's changed so much that the Bob Bondurant '57 car that Mick Swezey runs in its '62 configuration was competitive in the '80s, is now mid-pack."
Does John have any advice to those considering a first-generation Corvette as a driver or a resto project? "You have to decide what you really want to do with it," he says. "It's like Dale Pearman said-you have to figure out whether you want a race horse, a show horse or a plow horse, before you get started. It makes it a lot easier, and a lot less frustrating-and less expensive."