The Corvettes of Russo and Steele Newport Beach


Russo Steels lead artAuctions are a great place to view interesting cars. Beautiful restorations, provenance, history… it’s all there.

Certainly there are strange ones too and of course, they’re all for sale. Corvettes have been hitting the auction block in record numbers recently and in some cases, a trip across the block can be an inexpensive way to gauge an estimate.

In other cases, serious buyers and sellers can trade big bucks for the right car. Russo and Steele, which pitched it’s tents at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort has had relative success in what principals Drew and Josephine Alcazar consider their “home auction”.


The excitement of the auction block is an environment like no other, it has the elements of anxiety, interest, tenacity, noise and color all rolled up in movement, cars and money. During our time at the Russo and Steele event, we took the time to go around and look at some of the cars that came to the block. There were many and here are a few that caught our eye:


A beautiful example of the last hurrah of the C1

This 1962 Fawn Beige Metallic creampuff is mostly an all original car. It has never been restored with only 25,250 miles. It has a numbers matching RD-code 327 cu. in. block making 300 hp and 360 pounds-feet of torque with a 4-speed manual transmission. 1962 was the last year Corvette had a solid-rear-axle suspension. We liked the color and it was very well cared for throughout its life. It was a very nice car. Because it was listed “without reserve” the car was destined to go into new hands.


Beautiful single headlight 1956

This single-headlight style 1956 C1 was the first to offer dual-quad carburetors as a performance upgrade to the base small block engine, making 225 hp to a Powerglide automatic transmission. Only 3,467 Corvettes were produced in the 1956 model year. This car was the 683rd, produced on or around March 29, 1956. The result of a complete nut-and-bolt, frame-off restoration, it renders the car nearly showroom new. We loved the pretty combination of the Onyx Black exterior, Venetian Red interior and black soft-top.


Early C1 always a treat…

Not too often do you come across a car that is a complete time capsule we nearly froze in our tracks at this very unique find. We gazed at this 1954 C1 — unmodified with only 1,072 indicated miles! The white paint over red leather and the150 hp tuned version of the Blue Flame inline 6-cylinder engine with a Powerglide Automatic Transmission makes this car more museum piece than driver. Whoever took it home, has a real winner.


Custom C1 looks good with slight de-chroming

Here’s one that would be a great daily driver. With 12,100 miles on a full restoration including a new crate 350 ci/300 hp. engine with electronic ignition, an Edelbrock carburetor and a Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, this dual headlight 1958 model would be the bomb for rides on Pacific Coast Highway and car shows. We liked that this particular car has all the classic looks and drivability without the worries of a “matching numbers” price tag.


Vanilla and lime is interesting color combo…

Want to own a genuine SEMA show build? This 2014 C7 Z51was featured at the 2016 show. It is pretty ostentatious, like many of the over the top SEMA cars, but has a certain charm as this 506 hp Stingray with a Magnuson supercharger, Borla 1 7/8-inch headers, a 3-inch catless X-pipe, and Magnaflow exhaust system would be a fun and fast track-ready car to run. The
Custom Pearl White paint, with ghost Corvette flags, has additional exterior add-ons that include carbon-fiber vents, mirrors, taillight bezels, splitter, side skirts, and wing. Not a particular driver for us, but there are many out there who could appreciate it.


Old school racer very cool.

We have a hard time walking past race cars, and Russo had a few. This was a under ten-year old build from a street Sting Ray donor car. The motor build was pretty nice with a 383 small-block Chevy engine with JE pistons, a SCAT crank, Crower rods, and AFR cylinder heads making about 600 bhp. This would be a fun track day car to run in clubs and vintage races that don’t require provenance. Clearly the guy who built this car had a great deal of fun and put a lot of thought into it.


Love the painted on “coves.”

And speaking of race cars, this one stopped us in our tracks again! Though not the real car, this very nice tribute was from a 1956 “basket case” donor. It was created to commemorate the famous EX87/5951 Corvette which set the 150+ mph speed record at Daytona Beach in January 1956. The owners spared no expense to get this car absolutely as close to the original as possible — and they were rewarded with invitations to the “big show” historic races such as Monterey, and won several appearance awards at others. We liked it, but would not be inclined to race it.


Low mile beauty

This 1957 C1 was a stunner for sure. The Venetian Red on Red leather was a showstopper. With only 62,500 miles on the clock, a single owner for 35 years and a complete restoration only two years ago, this 283 ci, four-speed would have looked real nice in our garage. looking the car over and under, it was like being in the showroom in late-1956. Hope they wiped our drool off the rear quarter panel before it went across the block.


Best performance bang for the buck?

This car was a real turn-on when it came out in 2002. Z06 had always meant performance and this particular car would be great for budget thrills! Featuring original paint, the only caveat was a complete engine rebuild 500 miles ago. It included new pistons, rings, polished crank, heads and a new clutch. It left us wondering if the 62,000 miles on the clock was done a quarter mile at a time? Regardless, with the rebuild, there is usually a shop warranty… Again, think budget thrills.


Love banana yellow, rubber baby buggy bumper C3s.

While there was little information offered on this “low miles” 1976 Corvette Stingray, it did boast complete service records. The yellow paint was not original, but the car popped with a tan interior. We liked the “Mako” body-style and the car would be a nice driver/project. The post EPA C3s, in the mid-1970’s to 1982 were underpowered and under-appreciated. In a way like Charlie Brown’s choice of a Christmas tree. However numerous examples of this car have become prime candidates for great resto-modding.

As we have seen at many of the auctions, the plethora of Corvettes, by proportion to other cars offered has kept the great American Sports car at a reasonable and attainable rate for the enthusiast. What will the next auctions bring when we visit Monterey in August? Stay tuned, between Mecom and Russo, there should be plenty to buy.

About the author

Tom Stahler

At eight months of age, Tom Stahler sat in a baby stroller in Thunder Valley and watched Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott win the 1968 Road America 500. He has had the car bug ever since. He has won several awards, including the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and the International Motor Press Association's Gold Medal for his writing and photography. When not chasing the next story, Tom drives in vintage road racing events and spends time with his wife and three daughters in Orange County, California.
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