Survivor! Basic Beige – Rich Barry’s Sweet and Simple 1964 Biscayne
If you think it takes a mega-buck, hand-crafted, candy-painted custom to command attention at a Goodguys event, listen to Rich Barry talk about his experiences with this ultra-basic, bare-bones 1964 Biscayne.
“Every time the car is out and about it is memorable,” Rich says. “I’ve had a bunch of people at Goodguys shows the last four years tell me the Biscayne is their favorite car of the day. I love seeing everyone’s reaction when I give them the details, and quite a few have given me their card in case I ever sell.”
The Biscayne was built several years ago by Street Machinery, the Cleveland, Ohio-based shop started by Boris Maryanovsky that seems to have a knack for finding low-mileage original cars and older restorations and transforming them into attention-grabbing cruisers with well-chosen wheel-and-tire packages and just-right stances. The shop was way ahead of the curve on the survivor trend and continues to crank out great examples.
The Street Machinery guys found this well-preserved 1964 Biscayne at an auction and decided to leave nearly everything alone but the stance. They installed an air spring system to get the car down low, added disc brakes to the front, and bolted up a set of solid 18×8- and 20×9-inch Billet Specialties wheels with Chevy dog dish center caps. The stance really makes the car, and the dark tan wheels are a perfect complement to the original Desert Beige paint, which has been color sanded and polished but still proudly retains its nicks and rock chips.
Nearly everything else about the Biscayne is stock, from the 230c.i. six-cylinder engine and column-shifted three-speed transmission, to the original driveshaft and rearend. An HEI ignition is the most significant engine upgrade.
Being a base-model Biscayne seems to add to the car’s vintage charm. There’s something about its utilitarian simplicity that amplifies its appeal – it’s as plain as the beige paint. Striped original fabric upholstery adds a little flavor inside, with fresh carpet covering the floors. An AM radio keeps Rich tuned in to news and sports.
Rich wasn’t the first person to fall for the back-to-basics Biscayne – he’s the third owner since the car rolled out of the Street Machinery shop. “When I saw the car on Instagram and found out it was for sale, I knew it was moving to California,” Rich says. “The car was in Oklahoma. After numerous phone calls to the owner, JD, he assured me it was the cleanest survivor car he’d owned to date and sent me any and all pics I requested to ease my racing mind.
“About 10 days after I saw it online, it was pulling up to my place on a car hauler,” Rich continues. “I hardly slept the entire time it was headed to the West Coast and I couldn’t have been happier when it got here. It was more than I hoped for. I thankfully remembered where first gear was and quickly learned it takes a while to turn this thing around – and takes even longer to get up to speed!”
In a hot rod world where supercharged LS engines have become commonplace, Rich admits that it’s an adjustment to drive a slow-cruising six-cylinder Biscayne. That’s part of the appeal, though – sometimes it’s good to be forced to slow down. “Man, is it fun,” Rich says. “This car has quite the online following and has put me in touch with some really cool people the last few years. Brian Vastine of Vastine’s Paint Garage in Texas periodically checks in with me to see if I’m ready to send it back to Texas for him.”
The 1964 Biscayne showed a little less than 65,000 miles on the odometer when we photographed it, and Rich estimates he’s been adding about 1,500 miles a year to the total. Will he ever let it go? That’s hard to say. At the moment, he seems to be having too much fun to seriously consider selling it, but he can also see the big picture, so to speak. “I feel like I’m just the keeper of this beige beauty for now, since I’ve had three other ‘forever cars’ the last couple of years,” Rich laughs. “It’s such a one-of-a-kind car, I feel guilty about keeping it all to myself…kind of.”
Photos by Steven Bunker